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Opening Statement of Honorable Ann Kirkpatrick, Ranking Minority Member

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  

As the Department of Veterans Affairs works hard to serve the needs of today’s veterans they must work equally hard to protect their personal information.  

Today’s hearing is an attempt to determine whether a veterans’ private information is secure. Mr. Chairman, veterans need to know that when they ask VA for the services and benefits they have earned, the information they submit in order to get those benefits will not be compromised under any circumstances.  

I hope that the VA came prepared today to provide assurances to Congress and veterans that that all their information technology systems are secure.  We expect VA to also answer our questions directly and honestly. As we get questions from veterans in our districts we want to provide complete and honest answers to them.

Congress received a letter from Mr. Jerry L. Davis, now a former employee at VA, who states that “there is a clear and present danger and risk of exposure and compromise of the sensitive data.”  I share the Chairman’s concern on whether VA is following the required government practices and policies regarding the monitoring and remediation of system risk.  

In addition, two OIG reports from 2012 and 2013 raise additional concerns. The 2012 report questions whether the agency has the proper Strategic Human Capital Management program to meet mission-critical system capabilities as VA moves in the 21st century. The second 2013 OIG report faults VA for failing to ensure private information by not encrypting health data transmitted to outpatient clinics and external business partners. The VA must address the concerns raised and assure veterans who come to VA for assistance that their personal information is secure.  

I want to thank everyone for being here today.  I would also like to thank the witnesses for their testimony and for answering our questions about the security of veterans’ private information at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Thank you Mr. Chairman. I yield back.