VA set to spend billions on IT

Veterans Administration contracts will cover a full range of IT services, and the agency is also hiring IT workers

The U.S. Veterans Administration is making upward of $12 billion in IT contracts available to businesses over the next five years, as part of an effort to modernize its operations.

The VA spends about $3.5 billion annually in IT, a figure that Input, a government market research, estimates is increasing at 10% annually as demand for veterans' services increases, said Kevin Plexico, an analyst at the Reston, Va.-based firm.

The VA has changed how it acquires technology, creating a program called Transformation Twenty-One total Technology or T-4 for short. Previously, the VA would acquire much of technology through blanket contracts that General Services Administration negotiated with tech vendors.

But with T4, the VA is shifting to its own purchasing and creating a one-stop shop. It is doing this to gain more control more control over vendor selection and management, said Plexico.

In a speech this month at a meeting of Veterans small businesses convention, Eric Shinseki, the VA secretary, told the group that the "VA's information technology issues are significant."

The agency has been canceling IT projects that haven't met expectations, including a decision this month to drop a $500 million project to modernize financial management systems.

The VA's T4 spending plan includes $7 billion in VA IT procurement, or about $1 billion a year over the next five years. Another $5 billion will come through other VA contracts with other agencies. The VA last week

The VA contracts will cover a full range of IT services, including security, networks, and hardware from the desktops to data centers.

The agency is also hiring IT workers. Of the 1,200 IT jobs being advertised by the federal government, approximately 200 are VA related. The Department of Homeland Security has 274 IT openings.

Federal agencies are, overall, more optimistic about their ability to hire IT workers in the months ahead, according to a new survey. An ongoing survey of federal and state hiring trends by the CDW in its IT Monitor found that 29% of federal IT decision makers expect to hire IT staff, up 9 percentage points from April.

Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at  @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

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