WASHINGTON—Though it might be lost among VA’s larger, higher-profile IT projects, the department is moving forward with its latest attempt to replace its financial management system—something it has tried and failed to do twice in the past.

The Financial Management Business Transformation Program would replace VA’s now 30-year-old financial management system and provide the department with a more transparent, up-to-date view of its finances and acquisition management processes. Two years in, however, the project is already experiencing cost increases and delays, which has both legislators and the project’s leaders concerned.

“The need for strong financial management and IT systems underlies all of VA’s operations. Obsolete financial IT systems require costly workarounds,” explained Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH), chairman of the House VA Oversight Subcommittee, at a hearing last month. “Twice before VA has tried to replace its financial management system. … Both previous attempts failed after years of development and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. We simply can’t afford another attempt.”

The first time VA tried to replace its FMS was with the Core Financial and Logistics System. That eventually failed due to the system’s inability to sync with existing legacy systems. That inability to coordinate resulted in the pilot facility in Bay Pines, FL, being unable to provide medical equipment when and where it was needed and the eventual cancellation of dozens of surgeries as a result.

The second attempt was with the Financial and Logistic Integrated Technology Enterprise, a $500 million project that began in 2006. VA pulled the plug on it in 2010 to focus on larger IT projects, like its electronic health record system.

Its current initiative, FMBT, began in 2016 with a shared services agreement between VA and USDA to purchase and implement an off-the-shelf financial management software from CGI called Momentum. USDA pulled out of the agreement in 2017, but VA decided to move forward on its own.

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