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Opening Statement of Hon. Ginny Brown-Waite, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida

Thank you Mr. Chairman,

I want to thank all of our witnesses here today for testifying before this Committee. There has been a great deal of focus placed on the use of Information Technology at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA relies heavily on information technology to carry out its important mission of serving our nation's veterans.

The VA undertook an ambitious process to recentralize its IT functions in 2003 and learned many valuable lessons as a result. This has led Secretary Nicholson to approve a federated IT management system for the VA. In this new federated system, the VA divided operations and maintenance from systems development. Innovative thinking like this is needed to ensure that the VA is meeting the needs of veterans in an effective and efficient manor.

Overhauling the IT system at the VA has been a long and difficult process and completion of the realignment is scheduled for July 2008. However, a June 2007, GAO report states, that the VA risks jeopardizing the success of these efforts and may not realize the long-term benefits of the realignment if they do not comply with the recommendations made by the GAO. I look forward to hearing more about these recommendations from both the GAO and the VA here today.

Once again, I welcome you to the hearing and look forward to hearing your thoughts on the issue before us today.