VA Requests $180M in Information Security Spending for FY 2016
March 3, 2015 in News
The Department of Veterans Affairs is looking to increase its information security budget from $156 million in fiscal year 2015 to $180.3 million in FY 2016, according to VA officials, FCW reports.
The budget increase comes amid criticism of the agency’s health IT systems (Mazmanian, FCW, 2/26).
In November 2014, a Government Accountability Office report found VA had failed to adequately address IT security issues, potentially putting veterans’ sensitive health data at risk (iHealthBeat, 11/19/14).
In a separate report released in February, GAO identified VA as a “high-risk” budget issue, noting that it has failed to completely address more than 100 GAO recommendations regarding its:
- Lack of oversight and accountability;
- Outdated health IT systems;
- Poor care coordination and data interoperability; and
- Inadequate training for VA staff members (iHealthBeat, 2/12).
Further, VA has been a target for hackers. According to VA data, there were over 14 million intrusion attempts on VA networks last month (Moore, Nextgov, 2/24).
Latest Request Details
The information security budget includes:
- Freedom of Information Act request processing;
- Network security;
- Records management;
- Security incident response; and
- Wireless and mobile security.
Of the $180.3 million budget request, $53 million would go toward cybersecurity efforts, up 16% from FY 2015 (FCW, 2/26).
During a conference call with reporters, VA CIO Stephen Warren said, “We’ve got dollars identified in the budget that are new tools or new processes.” He added, “But [for] every single VA employee … a large part of their job is doing cyber support and doing activity and actions that are necessary to secure the enterprise” (Dvorak, FierceHealthIT, 2/25).
Overall, VA is requesting $4.1 billion for IT, up 6% from fiscal 2015, according to FCW. Of the $4.1 billion:
- $2.5 billion would go to operations maintenance, such as replacing old hardware and transitioning VA’s phone system to a cloud-based system; and
- $505 million would go toward new projects.
Those projects include:
- $20 million for mobile application development, such as building telehealth capacity;
- $76 million for a new scheduling system; and
- $160 million to upgrade the VISTA Evolution project’s electronic health record (FCW, 2/26).