Military Connection: VA to Integrate Web Systems: By Debbie Gregory

VA websitesThis week, the U.S. Department of Veterans (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald unveiled plans to launch a digital services team within the VA.

The VA secretary claims that the VA holds too many separate websites, which all require separate ID’s and passwords. Mr. McDonald’s sentiments are that this is confusing for Veterans, and counter-productive to providing timely information and benefits to the Veteran community. At a press conference on September 8, 2014, Secretary McDonald criticized the flaws in the current set of VA systems, and announced his plan to create a new, one-login system.

“Right now, if you go to any Veterans Affairs website, you”ll find that there are 14 different websites that require a different username and a different password for veterans to access the VA,” Secretary McDonald said. “That”s just flat wrong.  We”ve got to make it easier for the veteran to access the VA through one website, one username, one password.”

Currently, the VA has entirely separate websites and logins for its different administrations and separate benefits offerings. The programs are run independently from one another, and their websites reflect the divergence. Many Veterans have complained about getting tangled in the web (www) while searching and applying for VA benefits.

To improve the process, the VA intends to recruit and hire “the nation”s top technologists to partner with us in building and delivering world-class, cost-effective digital services to our Veterans.”

Along with the digital services team, McDonald also said that the VA needs to create a centralized information technology system.

“I think we all agree it”s better to have one IT system across the department than to have Balkanized IT systems,” McDonald said.

Additionally, the VA secretary also called for a geographic reorganization of the department’s benefits and burial operations.

“If you looked at the structure of VA, you would find that we have nine different geographic maps for how we”re organized geographically,” McDonald said. “Every part of the VA has a different geographic map, a different hierarchical structure.  We”re going to be looking at: How do we reorganize the VA so that when the veteran looks at the VA, the veteran knows how to connect and how to get things done.  We are too complicated from the veteran”s standpoint.”

The move away from a paper and snail mail system in favor of online applications and programs has improved the expediency of claims by leaps and bounds. Now that the systems are fully in place, it makes sense for Secretary McDonald to update those systems in order to create the most comprehensive and efficient system for our nation’s Veterans.

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Military Connection: VA to Integrate Web Systems: By Debbie Gregory