Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) CIO James Gfrerer said today that the agency is “in place to move about half of our portfolio … into our enterprise cloud by 2024.”

“That is not about cost savings, that is about capabilities delivery,” the CIO said about the transition during remarks at AFCEA Bethesda’s Health IT Summit on Jan. 15. “If something is in a particular aging environment, we’re going to probably put it high in the queue in terms of putting it into a more responsive infrastructure in the cloud,” he added.

The cloud transition is a big step toward medical supply chain, human resources, financial management, and electronic health records (EHR) modernization. VA Deputy Secretary James Byrne said that modernization of the entire IT infrastructure is a priority for the agency, after customer service and MISSION Act implementation.

“A lot of the things that we’re doing in these transformations are not visible to the American people … and that’s by design,” he noted. “[We] are making things better for them in an efficient manner.”

EHR is a modernization project that can be closely watched from the outside as VA prepares for launch, but even that project has substantial behind-the-scenes IT modernization efforts that the public will not see. For example, Gfrerer explained that building a longitudinal record with the Department of Defense (DoD) as a part of EHR requires “substantial IT components” such as security initiatives that the public may not see.

Across all of these projects, and collaborations with other agencies, the VA officials emphasized the importance of keeping the agency’s workforce empowered to perform complex, important work.

“One of the key things we’re focusing on right now is the sustainment of the momentum we have,” Byrne explained. “We have to maintain all these lines of effort which are codependent in many cases.”

Gfrerer added, “We want to outsource and take away those things that are commoditized … We want our workforce to stay focused on high value work.”

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.