VA Seeks $7.8B in FY 2021 IT Funding

Published: February 20, 2020

CybersecurityElectronic Health RecordInformation TechnologyVA

The Department of Veterans Affairs is seeking the largest civilian IT budget in FY 2021, of $7.8B, surpassing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Historically, DHS has held the highest dollar value civilian IT budget followed by HHS.  But for the FY 2021 IT budget request, VA has garnered the top spot requesting more than DHS and HHS. The $7.8B budget request is 27% higher than estimated IT spending for FY 2020. The majority of the increase is due to additional funding requested for the Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) initiative.

VA budget documents describe the IT budget as supporting IT and infrastructure modernization, customer service enhancements, continued MISSION Act implementation, claims processing, supply chain management, and financial management business transformation.

The total VA IT budget for FY 2019 through FY 2021 is shown below, along with the amounts allotted for Development, Modernization and Enhancement (DME), and Operations and Maintenance (O&M).

Many of Secretary Wilkie’s priorities for VA involve IT support and are detailed in the department’s Budget in Brief document.  They include:

  • Customer Service
  • Implementing the VA MISSION Act
  • Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM)
  • Business Transformation

VA’s largest IT programs as listed in its IT portfolio request for FY 2021 on the IT Dashboard include:

  • Electronic Health Record Modernization, $2.6B
  • IT Operations End User, $978M
  • IT Operations Application, $693M
  • IT Operations Network, $477M

VA is requesting an additional $1.1B for EHRM for a total request of $2.6B for FY 2021.  Interestingly, VA classified EHRM funding as O&M versus DME, even though the project is for implementing a new electronic health record system to replace VA’s legacy EHR, VistA. 

The increased funding for FY 2021 for EHRM will allow VA to speed up rollouts of the Cerner system while it also pursues installing Cerner’s scheduling software. However, Secretary Wilkie told lawmakers last week that the initial launch of the system in the Pacific Northwest, originally scheduled for March 28th, would be delayed after a review of the project in the wake of the dismissal of James Byrne.

VA is requesting $340M for the Corporate IT Support program, which is a 109% increase over FY 2020.  This investment supports training, travel management, financial and program management, acquisitions, vendor management, and strategic sourcing.

The budget shows a $476M drop in funding for IT Operations End User, which is a 31% decrease from FY 2020, making it the top decreasing program.

The budget also includes $460M to support cybersecurity efforts, a 12.2% decrease over FY 2020 enacted levels.

VA plans acquisitions for 22 programs in its IT portfolio, representing $4.5B (58%) of its total IT budget request.

Deltek’s Federal Market Analysis team is in the process of analyzing the entire FY 2021 President’s Budget Request.  Watch for our report to be published in mid- March.