OIG: VA Lacked Timelines for Cerner EHRM Progress Reports

OIG found that Cerner did not have deadlines for corrections to VA EHRM progress reports, which could have limited VA’s ability to manage deliverables.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has issued an advisory in response to allegations that the VA did not adequately oversee EHR modernization (EHRM) progress reports from EHR vendor Cerner.

OIG received an allegation that between October 2019 and March 2020, Cerner submitted invoices totaling approximately $5.8 million with inadequately detailed progress reports.

OIG’s investigation found detailed information in the progress reports, so it did not substantiate the allegation. However, the advisory noted that VA lacked timelines for when contractors needed to submit corrections to insufficient progress reports.

VA requested Cerner to resubmit the report with corrections for 18 of the 48 Cerner progress reports reviewed by OIG, to which Cerner complied. However, there was no timeline for corrections, which impacted VA’s ability to manage project deliverables properly.

“The delays observed for contractors’ corrections to progress reports could limit VA’s ability to promptly and accurately monitor contractors’ progress on particular tasks,” OIG wrote. “This management advisory conveys the information necessary for the Electronic Health Record Modernization Integration Office to determine if remedial actions are warranted.”

OIG requested that VA detail what actions, if any, it plans to take to improve the deliverable review process for contracts in the future.

The VA’s EHRM Office and Office of Information and Technology accepted the information in the memorandum without any comments.

The EHR modernization project, which VA kicked off in October 2020 with implementation at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center, has been plagued with issues. VA officials have confirmed that health IT deficiencies contributed to more than 150 cases of harm and the deaths of four veterans.

In April 2023, VA paused the rollout of the EHR at additional sites to address issues with the platform. The following month, VA renegotiated its EHR contract with Oracle Cerner to include stronger performance metrics and larger financial penalties.

Kurt DelBene, VA CIO, is “cautiously optimistic” that its renegotiated contract terms with health IT vendor Oracle Cerner will improve the agency’s EHR modernization, according to reporting from FedScoop.

“I feel good about the fact that we have taken a pause,” Kurt DelBene, the department’s CIO, told FedScoop in a podcast episode last month. “We now have lots and lots of service level agreement dimensions that are actually spelled out with penalties.”

Next Steps

Dig Deeper on Clinical documentation

Cloud Computing
Mobile Computing