Veterans Affairs

If any technology in the last 25 years has demonstrated the consequences of too much of a good thing, it’s email. For employees in so many organizations, email’s sheer volume has made it almost counterproductive. That’s one reason why so many federal agencies are turning to social media tools for interpersonal collaboration.

Social tools don’t eliminate email, just as email didn’t wipe out phone calls or the occasional formal document. But they can enable directly relevant communications among members of a workgroup for the real-time collaboration required of efficient workflows. Keep reading →

The Veterans Affairs Department’s move to a cloud-based email system for its employees is nothing if not meticulous. When fully rolled out, in 2014, the new platform will give about 400,000 VA users — and eventually up to 600,000 — an array of collaborative tools and eventually yield tens of millions of dollars in savings on IT infrastructure for the department, VA officials expect.

But for the near term, in a carefully planned first phase, the department plans to migrate 15,000 users to Microsoft 365 for Government within a separate community cloud, by the end of March, said Charles De Sanno, VA’s executive director of enterprise systems engineering. Keep reading →

Mobile technology has joined cybersecurity, controlling costs, human capital and central agency policy on the list of top concerns that keep federal chief information officers awake at night, according to a newly-released survey of federal chief information officers released today by the trade group TechAmerica.

Based on in-depth interviews with more than 40 federal CIOs and their deputies, the latest annual survey finds that cybersecurity ranks as the Number 1 concern for CIOs this year, even as budget constraints now dictate how CIOs are moving forward to meet agency IT demands. Keep reading →

This year’s 100 most influential executives in the government IT community were honored at a a gala tonight at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C.

The Federal 100 Awards recognize government and industry leaders who have played pivotal roles in the federal government IT community and who “have made a difference in the way technology has transformed their agency or accelerated their agency’s mission.” Keep reading →

You might be hearing it a lot. Federal CIO Steve VanRoekel is calling for departments and major agencies to create vendor management organizations, or single-office gateways for managing contractors.

He comes at this in the context of the 25-point IT reform plan. He’s vetting the idea through the President’s Management Advisory Board (PMAB.) Industry uses VMOs widely. Basically VMO is modern parlance for purchasing department. Keep reading →

Data analytics are proving to be a powerful tool for improving the results of government program, according to a new report released today, “From Data To Decisions: The Power of Analytics.”

The report, which examines how several federal agencies used data, is a joint effort between the Partnership for Public Service and the Public Sector Business Analytics & Optimization practice at the IBM Center for The Business of Government. Keep reading →

The federal government’s record for acquiring major information technology projects has rarely earned high marks.

However, a new report from the Government Accountability Office identified seven occasions were agency IT acquisition investments were deemed successful. Keep reading →

This is the first of a three-part series examining government services addressing key challenges among military veterans amid high unemployment, a woeful economic outlook and an anticipated influx of veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan in the next few years.

The nation’s military veterans have long been lauded America’s heroes, deserving the utmost respect, admiration and support from fellow citizens. Keep reading →

Last week’s news that the Department of Veterans Affairs was expanding its efforts to promote its Blue Button personal health record system prompted me to research the Blue Button program for Personal Health Records (PHR) and make them easier to use by our readers not just our Veterans.

President Obama highlighted the Blue Button Initiative, as have many others in recent weeks. The program is just one of a series of successful government challenges to promote innovation in government.

This is similar to my efforts to make Traumatic Brain Injury information more accessible and useful in another story.

An authoritative online resource: Managing Your Health Information Online explains the difference between: Electronic Health Records (EHRs) (much in the news) and Personal Health Records (PHR) as follows:

  • An Electronic Health Record is a safe and confidential record your doctor, other health care provider, medical office staff, or a hospital keeps on a computer about your health care or treatments. EHRs let your providers share up-to-date information about your conditions, treatments, tests and prescriptions. If your providers use EHRs, they can join a network to securely share your records with each other. EHRs help cut down on medical errors and can keep you from getting duplicate tests.
  • A Personal Health Record is a record with information about your health that you or someone helping you keeps for easy reference using a computer. You control the health information in your PHR and can get to it anywhere at any time with Internet access.
So two questions that one naturally asks are: Who offers PHRs? and is my health information private and secure in PHR?

The previously mentioned authoritative online resource: Managing Your Health Information Online answers:

  • PHRs are often offered by providers, health plans, and private companies. Some are free, while others charge fees.
  • Some independent companies create and maintain PHRs for you. If you give them permission, they may be able to get your health information from your doctor or health plan.
  • If your doctor or health plan doesn’t offer a PHR, check what’s available from other companies at
  • Special permissions or passwords let you choose who can access your PHR so others can get your critical information quickly. When you use a PHR, make sure it’s on a secure Web site. With a secure Web site, you usually have to create a unique user ID and password, and the information you type is encrypted (put in code) so other people can’t read it.

My comment is: why not do it yourself for free, without the Internet (especially if you are not always connected or not able to use the Internet), and in a familiar environment like a spreadsheet, notepad, or word processing document.

So I am providing the “Blue Button PHR for All Americans” as an Excel spreadsheet (XLS) and Comma Separated Value (CSV) files that can be imported into most other softwares for the convenience of our readers and their family members and friends that need them but cannot afford a commercial service or use Internet services.

On August 2, 2010, President Obama announced the Blue Button capability that allows veterans and Medicare beneficiaries to download their personal health information by a simple click of a blue button.

So now you can just download the files, read the background information and do it yourself for free and with your own security. It can be on your iPhone, iPad, and/or laptop and desktop PC or Mac. Keep reading →

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has found an innovative way to address a shortage of trained acquisition professionals, growing contracting complexities and a need to curb waste, fraud and abuse for itself and other federal agencies.

Since September 2008, the VA has operated its own Acquisition Academy – a school built from the ground up to train a new generation of procurement officers to handle the agency’s $16 billion annual procurement budget. Keep reading →

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