Lawmakers concerned over transparency for VA's $16B Cerner EHR funding

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Lawmakers have voiced their concern about the budget management of the Department of Veterans Affairs IT modernization initiative, according to a July 1 FedScoop report.

The VA intended on using $670 million from its transformation fund to supplement its $4.8 billion proposed IT budget for fiscal year 2022. In doing so, it would surpass its 2021 budget by roughly $600 million.

Under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, the VA is allowed to take money from its budget that has not been spent to use for other purposes as it sees fit, FedScoop reported.

"What is very concerning to me is that these funds that were dedicated or earmarked to be utilized for the delivery of healthcare purposes and now are being diverted out … and they go into a fund that gives you dramatic latitude on where it could be spent," Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., a ranking committee member, said at a House Veterans Affairs Technology Modernization Subcommittee July 1.

Rep. Frank Mrvan, D-Ind., said he is concerned about the management of the VA's EHR funding. Part of the program is funded through the Veterans Health Administration's budget, while the other part is funded by the VA's Office of Information Technology budget. Since the funding is splintered between the two, Mr. Mrvan said this could lead to a lack of oversight on EHR funding.

VA CFO Jon Rychalski said the funding is being properly managed.

"In our accounting system, we are keeping track of all of them," he said of the EHR funding accounts.

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