Doubling of VA's IT budget could tip the market

Doubling of VA's IT budget could tip the market

Summary: If $2.4 billion goes into a wrong turn, it's a legacy that could take a decade or more to fix. Congress should look closely at how the VA's IT money is going to be spent before they approve it.

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TOPICS: CXO, Open Source
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Veterans Affairs logoThe fiscal 2007 IT budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs was about $1.2 billion. The proposed budget for fiscal 2009, which starts in October, is $2.4 billion.

That's a lot of IT.

That should be very good news for open source. The VA's medical records system, VistA, is not just open source, but public record. There's an active open source project behind it, and a commercial implementation as well.

An open standard with enormous market share and development power behind it sounds cool, but that's not what we're getting.

That's because, in keeping with the Administration's general policy, the VA is privatizing. In November, it chose a proprietary solution for its laboratory software.

Fred Trotter wrote this increased the risk of vendor lock-in for all medical software. Double the budget behind that proprietary attitude and it's hard to see where open standards come from.

As I noted yesterday, the view of the elite business community is coming around to the idea that open source values should direct medical reform, especially in the area of IT.  

That view is unlikely to gain much currency so long as the present Administration is in power. And despite the calendar, that power is likely to extend through fiscal 2009, at least on the agency level.

If $2.4 billion goes into a wrong turn, it's a legacy that could take a decade or more to fix. Congress should look closely at how the VA's IT money is going to be spent before they approve it.

Topics: CXO, Open Source

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  • How's it going to go... this might be a clue

    McKesson is number 3 of the top 100 Recipients of Federal Contract Awards for FY 2008 1Q. (http://tinyurl.com/27sr74)
    John Norris
    • Good Clue

      I don't want to have to spend billions tearing up systems (or forcing them open) because of another Bush Administration scam.

      But that may be where we're heading.
      DanaBlankenhorn
  • RE: Doubling of VA's IT budget could tip the market

    Thanks for the report.
    wmlundine