The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is keenly focused on improving the healthcare and general services that support our military veterans. Incumbent on these improvements is the integration of leading edge technologies that digitize and automate processes for efficiency along with important security enhancements.
ONE: Implementation of Electronic Health Records
The Department's efforts to modernize the way they store and access records for the nine million veterans they care for into a comprehensive electronic system has been well documented. These efforts involve upgrading all 1200+ VA facilities' existing systems to ensure better continuity of care, and are currently focused on moving EHR data to a cloud system that will be interoperable with the Military Health System. The ultimate goal is to ensure service members can seamlessly and digitally transition from DOD to VA health care, instead of needing to carry around stacks of paper forms as is current practice.
The latest Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) scorecard showed that all agencies still have passing grades when it comes to meeting federal goals for IT management and reporting, but there was some backsliding in the latest report.
Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Veterans Administration improved their overall scores, while five agencies -- Commerce, Small Business Administration, The General Services Administration, Social Security Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Aid - all dropped. A positive among the scores was that every agency received at least one A for the first time in the scorecard's history.
The battles of tomorrow will likely not be fought on the ground, they will take place in cyberspace as nation-states and rogue actors alike look to interrupt the everyday functions of a country via high-tech attacks. Recently we saw theRussian hack of software, designed (ironically) to help organizations monitor network problems and anomalies, which has the government and private companies scrambling to determine what data was compromised. With cyberspace being the new battlefield, data and data management have quickly become a strategic asset in the DoD arsenal.
Last fall, the DOD released the Department's Data Strategy. An overarching guidance on how they will manage, secure, and use data. This document supports theDOD's transition to "a data-centric organization that uses data at speed and scale for operational advantage and increased efficiency." The Data Strategy includes 7 goals, nicknamed VAULTIS, to becoming data-centric:
In one of its first acts, the 117th Congress passed theFedRAMP Authorization Act. This bill codifies the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) and, in the process,speeds up the time it takes for cloud solutions to be implemented in the Federal government. Currently, cloud solutions must frequently gain separate authority to operate statuses for each agency where they are used. This bill looks to have the General Services Administration (GSA) automate processes to promote reciprocity for security validations from one agency to another.
This bill was passed at a critical time for cloud adoption within government as agencies continue to accelerate their digital plans to meet the needs of a remote workforce. While the way has been cleared for "emergency" use of cloud to keep the business of government running, laws and policy like this Act ensure that there is long term support for the move to cloud services.
With telework expected to stay long after the pandemic ebbs, government agencies are looking to shore up the remote work solutions they put in place to ensure on premise security measures extend to the dispersed workforce. Multi-cloud environments are the reality for almost every agency. The many applications needed for the diverse functions of an organization require multiple cloud solutions to provide the specific support needed.
A report from Meritalk, Multi-Cloud Defense: Redefining the Cyber Playbook, found that 83 percent of respondents are increasing multi-cloud adoption to support telework and mission needs related to COVID-19. However, 42 percent said their cyber strategies cannot keep up. One part of the challenge is creating a solution that can be applied to the wide variety of endpoint devices and meeting enterprise security requirements.