THE HONORABLE HERSHEL W. GOBER
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
April 15, 1999
It is my pleasure to testify on behalf of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on the status of our readiness for the Year 2000. I am accompanied today by Harold Gracey, VA’s Acting Chief Information Officer (CIO) and some other key staff from Information and Technology, VBA, and VHA who have been involved in Y2K full-time for the last several years.
The essence of the Year 2000 problem is that when the year changes from 1999 to 2000 or is entered as "00," systems and devices may not recognize this date as the intended or correct year.
Mr. Chairman, when I met with you in July 1997, you expressed your concern about the potential impact of this issue on us and the delivery of benefits and health care to veterans. I promised you then that we would be ready and I would be personally accountable.
We have worked very hard across VA to ensure we will be ready for the Year 2000. We have program delivery people and information technology people working hand-in-hand within and across Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), Veterans Health Administration (VHA), National Cemetery Administration (NCA) and other VA organizational elements to ensure that we provide uninterrupted support of benefits delivery and healthcare services.
I appear before you today to say benefit payments will be made without interruption, and our healthcare facilities will be fully operational on
January 1, 2000. Veterans will continue to receive their benefits on time, as well as the highest quality of health care in the Year 2000 and beyond. Because December 31 is a holiday and January 1 is a Saturday, VA’s regular recurring benefit payments, including compensation and pension, most education programs, vocational rehabilitation, Restored Entitlement Program for Survivors, and those for Vietnam veterans’ children with Spina Bifida, will be posted to beneficiaries’ accounts and be available on the morning of December 30, 1999. This will mitigate any unexpected Year 2000 interruptions of benefit payments arising from sources outside our control.
VA has demonstrated that we can successfully process multiple century dates. Since most of VBA benefits use forward projections, changes were made as early as 1982 to accommodate Year 2000 requirements. For example, in 1989 we corrected the 10-year delimiting date for education benefits in our systems. Another example is future award changes based on a child reaching age 18 after 1999 that are being successfully processed today. Further, our beneficiaries often maintain a relationship with VA lasting several decades. For example, we still cover insurance policy holders born in the 19th century.
I am pleased to report that we have completed the Year 2000 renovation, validation, and implementation of our applications including all benefit payment-related applications and applications supporting health care. We have repaired and implemented applications supporting compensation and pension, health care, insurance, vocational rehabilitation, education, loan guaranty, financial management, payroll, and national cemeteries.
VA has also completed business continuity and contingency plans for benefits delivery and health care to reduce risks due to other potential Year 2000 interruptions such as loss of power supplies, water and telecommunications. I’d be happy to submit these for the record if you like.
VA is also playing an active role as a member of the President’s Year 2000 Conversion Council chaired by John Koskinen. VA has representatives on the healthcare, education, financial and benefit payment sector work groups of the Year 2000 Conversion Council. VHA is also leading a subgroup of the healthcare sector dealing with issues regarding pharmaceuticals.
How VA Categorized Mission Critical Systems
Let me take a few moments to address how we classified our systems at VA. When VA began the Year 2000 tracking and reporting process in March 1997, we categorized all of our applications into 11 mission-critical system areas reflecting our business functions. Those systems are compensation and pension, education, loan guaranty, insurance, vocational rehabilitation, administrative, VISTA, VHA corporate systems, national cemeteries, financial services and payroll. These 11 mission-critical systems represent over 300 applications and 17 million lines-of-code. In addition, each of the applications supporting our 11 mission-critical systems areas runs independently of all others. For example, there is no single loan guaranty system. Instead, we have 18 independent applications supporting the loan guaranty business function.
We also prioritized all applications supporting these mission-critical areas into a three-tiered structure, providing a common VA-wide priority ranking for VA's applications inventories supporting these VA mission critical system areas: Level I - business priority applications directly impacting the delivery of medical care and benefits to veterans; Level II - internal support systems that improve timeliness and efficiency of administrative processes and operations support; and, Level III - discontinued (retired) systems. VA considers both Level I and Level II as mission critical, and we have completed the renovation and implementation for both Level I and Level II applications.
Year 2000 Update
I would like to take this opportunity to specifically bring you up-to-date on NCA, VHA and VBA status, accomplishments and VA business continuity and contingency planning efforts.
National Cemetery Administration (NCA)
The information systems supporting NCA are fully Year 2000 compliant. Non-compliant NCA systems were replaced in December 1996. NCA has also completed business continuity and contingency plans for NCA operations in January 1999.
Veterans Health Administration
VHA has two mission-critical systems, VISTA and VHA Corporate systems consisting of 200 applications. VHA has completed the renovation, validation and implementation of both VISTA and VHA Corporate Systems.
VISTA is the name given to the standardized set of national software applications that form the automated systems environment supporting integrated healthcare delivery at local VA healthcare facilities. The VISTA inventory consists of 105 applications and all of the applications have been renovated, validated and implemented.
VHA Corporate Systems perform a variety of corporate-level functions within VHA. These systems range from management decision support tools to patient information systems to systems for tracking construction project progress. The VHA inventory of 95 corporate systems has been renovated, validated and implemented.
The potential Year 2000 impact on medical devices is a national issue, affecting both private sector and Federal healthcare communities. VA, like any other healthcare provider, buys these devices from industry. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates these products.
VHA has worked very hard for the past two years to develop a comprehensive approach and Year 2000 strategy for managing medical devices. This approach was developed with input from VHA Headquarters specialists and VHA field biomedical engineers in order to take advantage of their collective knowledge and to tailor a process for the actual users of medical devices.
VHA established the Medical Devices Integrated Product Team, a collaboration of engineers, clinicians and technologists, which reviewed the manufacturers’ assertions of Year 2000 status of their devices. The members of this group are the leading Year 2000 experts on the potential problems with medical devices within VHA.
Beginning in September 1997, VHA sent letters to biomedical equipment manufacturers whose products are used within VHA. To date, we have achieved a 99% response rate. We have sent follow-up letters, made phone calls and have met with those companies that have not responded. The information we have gathered has been published on our internal network for the use of all VA medical facilities, and we have shared our database with FDA, the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Based on preliminary findings and comments from field facilities, our estimates are as follows: 82% of the vulnerable devices we use are compliant, 16% are conditionally compliant (meaning a fix or upgrade will be provided by the manufacturer) and 2% are non-compliant.
It important to note that through our exhaustive efforts we have found only one non-compliant medical device that could potentially pose direct harm to a patient. This device is a radiation dosage therapy system owned by three VA healthcare facilities. Two of these systems have already been replaced and the remaining healthcare facility is awaiting delivery of its replacement. In many cases, noncompliance is date-stamp related (for example, printing "00" on a report) and is not life-threatening. Almost all non-compliant devices are still clinically functional.
In addition, both VHA and DoD have worked together with large manufacturers of medical devices to increase the timeliness of Year 2000 fixes, negotiate charges for solutions, and organize their web pages to make them more user-friendly. These efforts not only help other Federal users of medical devices, but also further assist smaller providers and rural healthcare organizations in managing such a complex task.
The VHA Medical Devices team has aggressively pursued manufacturers of medical equipment who are trying to charge VA for Year 2000 fixes. VHA’s posture has been that medical device malfunctions are a design issue or a latent defect and that the manufacturer should fix any device under 10 years of age at no charge. Over the past year, the VHA Medical Devices team invited several of the large manufacturers to VHA to discuss charges and solutions. To date, through this series of meetings with manufacturers, VHA has successfully negotiated a cost avoidance of $2 million dollars.
VHA Year 2000 Biomedical Equipment Guidebook
VHA has worked closely with its biomedical engineers and technical experts to develop a guidebook that assists healthcare facilities as well as community organizers in managing the complex Year 2000 problem. The goal of the guidebook is to encourage healthcare organizations to conduct a thorough review of their biomedical equipment and to share findings within and across organizations. The strategic approach detailed in the guidebook will assist community hospitals, outpatient clinics, healthcare facilities, physicians’ offices, tribal governments and other healthcare organizations through assessment and compliance conversion of their devices, equipment, and systems.
There have been many requests for this guidebook from the public. VHA has supplied the College of American Pathology & Information Services Committee, the Washington State Biomedical Association, the Colorado Rural Development Council, and many manufacturers of medical devices with copies of the guidebook. VHA has distributed over 1600 copies of this guidebook to small and rural hospitals as part of its commitment to assure that no patient is harmed as result of the change to the Year 2000 as well as the commitment for outreach to the President’s Year 2000 Conversion Council.
Medical Device Clearing House
Since September 1998, under an interagency agreement, VA and HHS jointly post data to the Federal Year 2000 Biomedical Clearinghouse as an on-line database operated and maintained by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This web page disseminates timely information about the potential impact of the Year 2000 date change on specific biomedical equipment to healthcare providers and their patients.
VA Policy Regarding Non-responsive Manufacturers
This month, VHA’s Chief Network Officer will be contacting specific VA healthcare facilities that have medical devices for which a) there is no compliance information available and b) the manufacturer has not responded to repeated inquiries. Currently there are 8 medical devices with no compliance information available from non-responsive manufacturers; none of the 8 fall into the category of critical care/life support.
For these 8 devices, VHA is recommending that healthcare facilities develop additional contingency plans including availability of back-up devices in case of unanticipated failure upon the transition to January 1, 2000.
VHA biomedical experts along with clinicians, medical records experts and General Counsel representatives met in February 1999 to discuss the results obtained from manufacturers of medical devices and to determine how stated Year 2000 non-compliance will affect clinical treatment and medical records.
As a result of this meeting, VHA has developed a policy to establish a facility review process including patient safety impact assessment, documentation, and facility management approval for continued use of medical devices for which no compliance information is available or which are identified as non-compliant from Year 2000 assessment activities.
Industry (ECRI), Other Hospital Systems, FDA’s and VA Position on Additional Testing of Medical Devices
VHA’s approach has not gone unnoticed. Professional working relationships have been established among VHA, Department of Defense (DoD), Food & Drug Administration (FDA), American Hospital Association (AHA), Emergency Care Research Institute (ECRI), and Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). These large organizations and owners of medical devices have worked together to validate and reinforce the Year 2000 process for medical devices.
The National Patient Safety Partnership, initiated by VHA in 1997, has used its combined resources to raise public awareness about Year 2000 medical device vulnerabilities, to encourage action by manufacturers, healthcare organizations and consumers and to conduct outreach with particular emphasis on small and rural organizations. The Partnership includes the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, AHA, JCAHO and eight other national organizations. VHA will continue to work with the Partnership to provide overall leadership for a national Year 2000 effort.
The medical device industry is highly regulated and is acutely aware of its exposure to legal liability. When potential hazards with the use of medical devices are uncovered, there is a "community standard" or industry response to addressing and correcting the potential hazard. End users and manufacturers alike understand that it is in everyone’s best interests to immediately contact the medical device manufacturer to investigate the potential hazard and develop the repair.
VHA views the Year 2000 problem as one large potential hazard and will follow what has proven to be a successful approach for the past several decades. We expect medical equipment manufacturers who have responded promptly and appropriately to identify hazards in the past to continue that course of action regarding Year 2000 problems.
VHA’s position is that all medical devices must be tested to determine Year 2000 compliance. However, the primary source to determine the Year 2000 status is the medical device manufacturer. No other source, or combination of sources, can provide device-specific information while simultaneously ensuring proper and thorough testing. This position is consistent with other healthcare entities, including the Emergency Care Research Institute (ECRI) - an international nonprofit health services research agency and a Collaborating Center of the World Health Organization. ECRI is widely recognized as the world's leading independent organization committed to improving the safety, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of healthcare technology. ECRI represents over 20,000 organization and individuals.
Other healthcare organizations that support this view include Columbia/HCA, Daughters of Charity National Health System, Mediq/PRN Life Support Services, Clinical Technology Services/Premier, Inc. and COHR, Inc. It is important to note that there is no general standard or industry- prescribed approach to end-user testing of medical devices for Year 2000 compliance.
VHA Pharmacy and Medical Supplies Activities
VHA is leading the Year 2000 Pharmaceuticals Acquisitions and Distributions Committee, under the direction of John Koskinen, Chair of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion. The Committee has a two-fold mission: 1) to determine the overall status of the pharmaceutical industry's Year 2000 compliance efforts concerning supply and distribution and 2) to homogenize efforts among the Federal government and industry.
The committee includes pharmaceutical industry trade association representatives throughout the supply chain, government agencies such as the FDA, DoD, and the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), and consumer advocacy organizations. The key issues the group is addressing are potential disruptions in the pharmaceutical supply chain, information disclosure, legal liability, anti-trust concerns, international issues (i.e. customs, business process, transportation), stockpiling/hoarding and public education.
VA’s National Acquisition Center (NAC) collected Year 2000 compliance information from the medical device manufacturers that supply VA facilities with their biomedical devices and equipment. Currently, the NAC is pursuing manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and medical and surgical supplies to survey their Year 2000 compliance status. Surveys were sent to 843 medical and surgical suppliers as well as pharmaceutical manufacturers with whom VA does business. Results of the NAC survey will be available via its Internet site this month.
Mr. Koskinen has asked VHA to help plan an Industry Roundtable on pharmaceutical issues in May. At the roundtable, senior pharmaceutical industry representatives and government representatives will be asked to develop a strategy to address some of the industry's most pressing concerns relating to the Year 2000. The goal of the roundtable is to inform the public on the pharmaceutical industry's Year 2000 compliance status.
Veterans Benefits Administration
VBA has renovated and completed implementation of its applications that support their six mission-critical systems, which include Compensation and Pension, Education, Loan Guaranty, Insurance, Vocational Rehabilitation, and VBA Administrative business lines. VBA’s applications are very date sensitive, and today VBA is successfully processing dates for years 2000 and beyond.
VBA is conducting post-implementation testing and will soon begin end-to-end testing with some of its biggest trading partners, including the Department of the Treasury. VBA has also developed business continuity and contingency plans for benefits delivery, regional office operations and benefit payments.
Compensation and Pension
Let me specifically address the compensation and pension software application. VBA awarded a contract for renovation support of our compensation and pension software application in October 1997. This contract provided an automated Year 2000 conversion tool for the application and additional contractor support for VBA’s Year 2000 efforts. All of the code was renovated in October 1998, and the last pieces of the application were implemented in February 1999. The contractor used an automated tool to renovate the programming code and to review the programming code VBA had already made compliant.
Even though we have already conducted an independent verification and validation (IV&V) process for compensation and pension, we are going to undertake an additional IV&V effort by sampling some of the compensation and pension code. If this sample indicates a need for additional IV&V, we will expand the scope of this effort, and if required, we will run the compensation and pension code through another software tool to perform an automated IV&V. In addition to the IV&V I have just discussed, we continue to conduct post-implementation testing on compensation and pension application. These tests will actually test the compensation and pension production code in a Year 2000 simulated environment.
In June, we discussed with your staff a problem we had with the renovation of our Beneficiary Identification Records Locator System (BIRLS) application. BIRLS is our master record locator used for generating a benefit award. Although the contractor we engaged to undertake this job did not deliver, our government staff was able to complete the renovation of this critical application quickly, and it was installed into production in October 1998. We have not experienced any problems with BIRLS since.
VBA’s mainframe computers and Information Technology Infrastructure
The VBA infrastructure is ready for the Year 2000. Our Honeywell 9000 platform upgrades were completed in September 1998, and our IBM platform upgrades were completed in February 1999. VBA continues to conduct tests on these platforms to insure they will not experience any problems due to third-party product issues. Last month, we completed the installation of our server and software upgrades to the 58 Regional Offices. We still have three or four commercial off-the-shelf products that still must be upgraded, but these are products used in isolated instances and not across-the-board.
Business Continuity and Contingency Planning
VA is not alone in being susceptible to potential disruptions in operations due to Year 2000 date-related system failures. Vulnerabilities to the Year 2000 problem permeate government agencies and business institutions, creating a situation where large-scale interruptions in essential community services, such as electricity and water, could occur. The Year 2000 problem is unique in that traditional contingency plans and back-up systems may be affected by the same problem(s). Therefore, the Year 2000 problem required a review of our current contingency plans to safeguard continuity of operations.
In December 1998, I sent a memorandum to the Under Secretaries for Health, Benefits and Memorial Affairs emphasizing my expectation that contingency plans be in place to ensure continuity of VA’s business operations for our core business functions: benefits delivery and medical care.
VA has developed business continuity and contingency plans (BCCPs) to minimize Year 2000 impacts on our core business functions. BCCP plans for VBA benefits business lines and payments were completed in January. Patient-focused BCCP planning guidelines were completed in early March. Regional offices and healthcare facilities have been provided these plans and templates so that they can customize their individual plans according to their local needs. These customized extensions of the BCCPs will be completed this month.
Healthcare Business Continuity and Contingency Plans
In the case of our healthcare facilities, emergency preparedness plans are required by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) and are in place at each facility. These plans help ensure the operation of healthcare delivery systems, including biomedical equipment, patient scheduling, and facility operations such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Although contingency plans are in place at each facility, VHA recognized the need for specific Year 2000 BCCPs in order to prevent any disruption to patient care.
A detailed patient-focused BCCP guidebook to assist each VA healthcare facility prepare for continuity of operations before, during and after the changing of the century was completed in March. A VHA expert team, and consultants who have extensive experience in healthcare contingency planning and Year 2000 readiness, developed the guidebook. The guidebook meets JCAHO and GAO requirements, so that following the procedures will not only produce a compliant contingency plan, it will greatly aid in documenting due diligence and reduce each healthcare facility’s patient risk by minimizing the probability of adverse Year 2000 events. The guidebook provides a basic template for Year 2000 contingency planning for all VA healthcare facilities or healthcare systems.
There are four key elements to the VHA Patient-Focused Year 2000 Contingency Plan:
Training for Year 2000
An important aspect of patient-focused BCCP is staff training and assuring adequate resources to replace electronically controlled processes with manual processes of patient care, if necessary. Clinical processes for which VHA is assuring competence include, but are not limited to:
VISN-Wide/Health Care Facility Drills
Each healthcare facility will complete at least one Year 2000 Contingency Drill as one of the recommended internal or external disaster drills or will participate in a VISN-wide drill. These drills will include: 1) management participation, 2) stressing the system, 3) formal critique, and 4) update of contingency plans based on the critique.
VHA is recommending that VISNs conduct multi-facility Year 2000 Contingency Drills. These drills will incorporate specific mission-critical systems that are at Year 2000 risk for failure. Evacuation of patients between sites can be specifically tested as a tabletop exercise.
Emergency Power Disruption Drills
In addition, each facility will perform an emergency power drill to prepare for various power disruption scenarios. Each facility, under controlled conditions, to prevent any patient harm, will run their emergency generator system for at least eight hours disconnected from the local electrical power supply. This will ensure that healthcare facilities can operate under emergency power, if necessary.
Benefits Delivery Business Continuity and Contingency Planning
In August 1998, VBA established a work group comprised of representatives from each business and service line. This group identified mission critical operations and assessed the potential impact of failures on VBA services. VBA defined failure scenarios and performed risk and impact analyses on each business process. VBA completed Year 2000 BCCP plans for VBA’s six business lines supporting benefits delivery in January. VBA is responsible for meeting the needs of its veteran client base through its Compensation and Pension, Loan Guaranty, Insurance, Education, and Vocational Rehabilitation and Counseling Services business lines. VBA’s BCCP consists of three elements: 1) business lines functions, 2) regional office operations, and 3) benefit payments contingencies.
VBA’s BCCP includes plans for functions conducted at the VA Central Office as well as at VBA’s field and regional office facilities. VBA identified the minimum acceptable levels of outputs and services for each of VBA’s six mission critical, core business functions. In addition, the BCCP identifies Year 2000 risk scenarios, risk mitigation strategies and contingency "triggers." The Insurance Service developed the first VBA continuity of business operations plan in April 1998.
The objective of the BCCP is to minimize the impact on organizational business functions caused by problems relating to Year 2000 date manipulation. The intent will be, in the event of a Year 2000 disaster, to restore a previously defined, minimal level of critical functions as soon as possible and, if necessary, to implement an alternate strategy to meet the Department’s mission. VBA’s BCCP will be continually updated as information concerning Year 2000 readiness of such services as water and electricity become available as we approach the actual Year 2000 rollover.
Regional Office Operations
In addition to completing BCCP plans for benefits delivery, VBA has taken the additional step and completed a Year 2000 BCCP template for local regional office operations and personnel to mitigate potential Year 2000 risks and to establish the capability of maintaining minimal levels of operations. This template draws upon the BCCP for VBA’s six business lines. The regional office BCCP has been disseminated to the regional offices so that they can customize local BCCP’s to the unique needs of the regional office. VBA is currently documenting event specific contingency plans and implementation modes, defining triggers for activating each contingency plan, and establishing business resumption teams. These customized local regional office plans using the template will be completed this month.
VBA’s BCCP is aimed at ensuring that its employees are able to carry out the assigned missions of each business line in spite of any evolving Year 2000 problem. The BCCP focuses on maintaining a minimal acceptable level of productivity regardless of the Year 2000 induced problem. The complete document is a collection of well-defined and executable contingency plans for each business line, as well as plans for the supporting services. It details the alternative approaches to performing the required mission of each business line and the strategies necessary for recovering from all Year 2000 induced problems as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Testing VBA’s Business Continuity and Contingency Plans
Finally, VBA will validate the BCCP through testing. Testing is paramount to ensure the plans will work if called upon. VBA is developing test plans and RO staff will obtain training in how to plan and conduct exercises at the Year 2000 Conference planned for July. Tabletop exercises will be conducted, evaluated and documented during August. Additional tabletop exercises will be performed in the November-December period.
In anticipation of concern among our beneficiaries as we enter December, and the possible increase in inquiries, VBA is notifying all of their Central Office and RO personnel of the need to maintain adequate staffing during the months of December and January. Leave usage will be minimized during these months to insure that personnel are available to respond to inquiries and activate contingencies, if they are needed.
Department of Treasury and Payment Contingencies
I would like to spend a few moments to discuss the Department of Treasury and veteran payments. As you may know, VA does not pay veterans directly. We transmit payment information to the Department of the Treasury's Financial Management Service (FMS) which, in turn, disburses payments to veterans. Payments are made electronically or via a paper check.
We have worked closely with FMS during the course of this project. We have verified that the payment data we currently send to Treasury is compliant and is being processed without error. FMS has also reported that all veterans' benefit payments are now being successfully made through Year 2000 compliant systems. Based on the fact that both VA and FMS are already Year 2000 ready, I am confident that all benefit payments will be made without interruption in the Year 2000 and beyond. To further ensure compliance, VA and FMS have scheduled post-implementation testing to begin in May.
In addition, we have several contingencies in place with Treasury in the unlikely event of a problem. In fact, an entire subset of our contingency plan deals with Treasury issues to ensure that beneficiaries will receive their benefit payments on time and correctly when the new century begins. These plans include a worst case scenario in which the private banking electronic systems fail or have problems. If this occurs, Treasury can revert to the use of paper checks to deliver veterans payments after recertification of those payments by VA. In addition, if the VA systems cannot process in January 2000, we will provide a contingency payment file for Treasury's use so that they can generate veterans' payments. We feel these are unlikely events, but we are ready with contingencies in case they are needed.
Data exchange interfaces
VA has completed its inventory of external data exchange interfaces with other Federal agencies and the private sector. As of January, 99% of VA's interfaces are Year 2000 compliant. However, VA must rely on the trading partner’s schedule. We are actively working to resolve any interface issues. VA is closely monitoring progress.
VA has identified three state interfaces that provide mailing addresses of veterans residing in those individual states on a quarterly basis. These interfaces are Year 2000 compliant. With the exception of these three interfaces, VA has no direct state or local government interfaces. This lack of direct interfaces mitigates Year 2000 problems with state and local governments. However, VA does provide information to other Federal agencies which, in turn, may interface with state and local governments.
VA working with Year 2000 interagency efforts
VA, VBA and VHA representatives are actively involved in several interagency efforts to find common solutions to Year 2000 issues. We are actively representing VA's interests in several sector groups created by the Year 2000 Conversion Council as well as subgroups of the Federal CIO Council Committee on Year 2000. Included are:
In addition, VHA staff meets regularly with staff from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs to pursue the identification of Year 2000 issues and solutions common to both organizations.
We will continue to work with the Federal CIO Council Committee on the Year 2000 and the Year 2000 Conversion Council to continue sharing information among Federal agencies.
We are committed to ensuring that VA information systems will be ready for the coming millennium. VA information systems will continue to provide uninterrupted support to our programs and ensure that we deliver the highest quality benefits and medical care to our Nation's veterans and their families. I thank you for this opportunity to present our progress in preparing for the Year 2000. I would be happy to answer any questions you have.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I will be pleased to respond to the committee’s questions.