MR. ROBERT N. MCFARLAND
NOMINEE FOR ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR
INFORMATION AND TECHNOLOGY
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFIARS
COMMITTEE ON VETERAN'S AFFAIRS
UNITED STATES SENATE
October 30, 2003
Chairman Specter, Senator Graham, and members of the Committee, it is indeed an honor to appear before you today as President Bush’s nominee for Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology at the Department of Veterans Affairs. I would like to thank the President for nominating me, and am grateful to Secretary Principi for requesting my nomination.
You should know that I owe a huge debt to the United States Military. In February 1963, I was a young 18 year old in Kilgore, Texas, when I was drafted into the US Army and subsequently served a one-year tour of duty in South Vietnam.
During those years of military service the Army taught me a number of things such as discipline, responsibility, teamwork and respect for authority. These core values allowed me to build the kind of life my family and I enjoy today. I cannot think of a better way to repay that debt than to serve our veterans, many of whom have not been nearly as fortunate as I.
Secretary Principi has as one of VA’s enabling goals to implement a "One VA" information technology framework. That framework must be reliable, accurate, and secure. I believe that my 32 plus years of experience in the information technology industry will allow me to assist him in executing that goal.
During those 32 years, I have observed and experienced a countless number of information technology systems that were implemented based purely on technology, not on sound business rational. Those mistakes cost many of these organizations millions of dollars and countless lost man-hours. You have my commitment to help the Department of Veterans Affairs and Secretary Principi avoid traveling down that path. It is my belief that the VA’s Office of Information and Technology (IT) should serve two customers-veterans and their families and VA employees. Everything the Office of IT does should revolve around what is best for those customers.
I am first and foremost a businessman that believes most programs of this type fail due to lack of execution. If I am confirmed, you have my promise that I will help VA develop a plan for sound systems based on clear goals and proper program management, and then we will execute that plan.
In closing, I am deeply honored to be here today and to be considered for this position. It is my hope that you will allow me to repay that debt I incurred in the 1960’s. I stand ready to serve and would be happy to answer and questions you may have.