VA Drops $472 Million Computer System
Wednesday, July 28, 2004; Page A17
TAMPA, July 27 -- The Department of Veterans Affairs said Tuesday that it is scrapping a hospital's troubled new computer system because of problems that have delayed surgeries, prompted congressional investigations and led to the resignation of several top officials.
The system was in use at the hospital as a pilot project and was to be expanded to the rest of the VA system.
The department is phasing out Bay Pines VA Medical Center's use of a computer system called the Core Financial and Logistics System, Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony J. Principi said.
Principi said Bay Pines will return to its previous computer system in October. A committee of senior VA officials will make recommendations about the program's future, he said.
An agency spokesman said he could not say whether any money spent on the failed system would be recovered. The total project was to have cost $472 million.
The computer system was installed last fall at Bay Pines. The hospital is the fifth busiest in the VA system, and officials later conceded they never should have tested the system there.
Hospital employees were not fully trained in the system, and difficulty in using it led to suppliers not being paid, a shortage of surgical supplies and delays for some operations.
Five VA officials, including the hospital's chief of staff, have quit or been reassigned since February due to problems at Bay Pines.
Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who held hearings on the system at the hospital in March, was angered by the outcome, the St. Petersburg Times reported Tuesday.
"At a time when VA's health care system is stretched to the limit, it is outrageous -- simply outrageous -- to waste millions upon millions of dollars on a failed computer system," he said.
Congressional investigators discovered that the company awarded the contract for the system, BearingPoint, was paid more than $200,000 as an incentive bonus for keeping the Bay Pines computer project on schedule even though employees were not properly trained to use it. BearingPoint officials declined to comment Tuesday.
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