Freshman Lawmaker Will Oversee VA’s Multibillion-dollar EHR Overhaul

Rep. Susie Lee speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington Jan. 16 to unveil the "Immediate Financial Relief for Federal Employees Act" bill. 

Rep. Susie Lee speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington Jan. 16 to unveil the "Immediate Financial Relief for Federal Employees Act" bill.  Andrew Harnik/AP

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Rep. Susie Lee will lead the House Veterans Affairs Technology Modernization subcommittee.

After less than a month on Capitol Hill, Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev., will take over congressional oversight of the Veterans Affairs Department’s multibillion-dollar electronic health record overhaul.

House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano, D-Calif., on Thursday tapped the freshman congresswoman to lead the Technology Modernization subcommittee, a body specially created to oversee the department’s massive IT upgrade.

Lee will succeed Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., who led the subcommittee since it was stood up last summer. Banks now serves as the group’s ranking member.

“It is critical that those who have put their lives on the line for our country are given proper care quickly, which means modernizing the VA and investing in the right technology to do so,” Lee said in a statement to Nextgov. “This subcommittee will make sure that the VA is doing this in the most effective way so that our veterans are cared for in a timely manner without abusing taxpayer dollars.”

Reps. Conor Lamb, D-Penn., Julia Brownley, D-Calif., and Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., will serve as the subcommittee’s Democratic members. House Veterans Affairs Ranking Member Phil Roe, R-Tenn., has yet to announce the group’s Republican roster.

Members will be responsible for monitoring the department’s 10-year, $10 billion effort to stand up a health record platform that connects seamlessly with the Defense Department’s record management system. Led by Cerner Corp., the project stands as one of the biggest health IT implementations in history.

The Pentagon’s implementation efforts have already been plagued by technical troubles, and at Veterans Affairs, officials raised cost estimates by $350 million just six months into the contract. In the subcommittee’s inaugural hearing, witnesses warned there needs to be increased accountability within both agencies or the project will likely fail.