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Keeping the Phone Lines Open for Veterans, No Matter What

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  • Published on: May 27, 2021

Providing continuous access to care for Veterans is a top priority for VA. Recently, in the face of a potential disruption, smart IT system design helped VA continue to provide seamless service to Veterans. In response to a regional issue, contingency capabilities already built into the Veteran Enterprise Integration System smoothly redirected incoming Veteran calls to contact centers in alternate regions, without any noticeable impact for Veterans.

The Veteran Enterprise Integration System, an application in the Veteran Experience Services Contact Center Product Line, integrates systems and information for VA call centers and their agents. The system is split into two distinct regions — South and East, that work in concert with each other. On October 22, a site reliability engineer who was reviewing dashboards for routine performance checks noticed something odd. He observed that in the Veteran Enterprise Integration System, activity in the South region flatlined and wasn’t receiving the traffic requests sent to that region — a clear deviation from normal traffic patterns. The system usually receives about 1.3 million calls per day in the South region, but on that day, the region received fewer than 3,000 calls by early afternoon. Upon closer inspection, the engineer saw that all traffic intended for the South region was automatically rerouting to the East region, thanks to how OIT teams originally architected the system. The rerouting was invisible to callers and agents and resulted in continuous access to information and care for Veterans and their families. OIT’s top priority for the Veteran Enterprise Integration System and other IT applications is to be “up and available” without service delays, and that’s exactly what happened!

As a fail-over contingency, the IT solution architect teams who designed the Veteran Enterprise Integration System made sure each of the two regions have the capacity to individually handle total combined traffic at any time. If one region becomes unavailable — due to a hurricane in the server’s location, or as in this instance, a technical issue with the network — the application is set up to automatically direct traffic to the available region. In this case, the system automatically rerouted all traffic from the Microsoft Dynamics 365 applications that use the Veteran Enterprise Integration System , such as CommCare and Customer Relationship Management Unified Desktop Optimization, to the East region.

The technical issue that prevented traffic flow to the South region originated from a patch that a separate team applied to the network the previous night — and was not direct result of or issue with the Veteran Enterprise Integration System. Because the site reliability engineer noticed the issue, he immediately alerted the appropriate networking team, who went in and resolved the problem before it affected any VA systems adversely. After the maintenance team addressed the underlying network issue, Veteran Enterprise Integration System automatically resumed call traffic flow to the South region, with no service interruption.

The Veteran Enterprise Integration System team members should be extremely proud of the  smart design choices they made during application architecture and development processes, as well as instrumental use of application performance monitoring. These efforts ensured Veterans and their families received timely and responsive customer service, especially during times of increased remote support, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our commitment to digital and IT transformation is shaped by daily dedication to customer service and the close collaboration of our workforce, managers, and leaders. Ready to join us in improving Veterans’ care? Check out all current information and technology career opportunities on DigitalVA. You can also contact VA’s Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer at 512-326-6600, Monday thru Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST or by submitting a resume to VACareers@va.gov.

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Page last updated on December 20, 2021

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