MeriTalk: Two Years After Controversy, VA Finishes IT for Forever GI Bill

“The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the completion of all IT initiatives for the implementation of the Forever GI Bill – also known as the Colmery Act – and the full deployment of associated software and systems, finishing the implementation of a policy initiative that initially put VA’s IT in the headlines for the wrong reasons.”

“The full roll-out of the Forever GI Bill, completed on October 30 and announced in a news release on December 7, closes the book on an initiative that started poorly and in the public eye but has since been an example of how VA plans to modernize its systems.”

“In October 2018, the VA found its IT and agency leadership sitting in front of Congress, receiving a tongue-lashing for errors in implementing the Forever GI Bill that affected payments for veterans attending college. Members of Congress questioned why VA had struggled and where IT funding was being allocated at the department…”

“The bill’s requirements put too much strain on a 40-year old legacy system and required the VA to start from scratch with a new vendor and new approach.”

“’Redesigning the way VA calculates Post 9/11 GI Bill housing rates during a busy academic season was like flying a plane while building it, and that was unfair and frustrating to Veterans and taxpayers,’ said Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs in November 2018.”

“Partnering with MITRE and Accenture Federal Services, the VA started over with an agile approach to modernizing the software and underlying systems. VA highlighted the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) approach in its news release, noting that it resulted in ‘improved engagement, quality, and efficiency…’” Read the full article here.

Source: Two Years After Controversy, VA Finishes IT for Forever GI Bill – By Josh Mayo, December 16, 2020. MeriTalk.

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