Recognized for rapidly deploying digital solutions to meet surging technology demands during the pandemic, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Information and Technology’s (OIT) COVID-19 Scrum Team was awarded the 2021 GITEC Emerging Technology Award for COVID-19 Response. Presented by the Advanced Technology Academic Research Center and Government Information Technology Executive Council, the award honors government initiatives which have made significant contributions in the advancement and implementation of innovative technologies over the last year.
Acting as a watershed moment for the Department, the once-in-a-century public health crisis accelerated the use of virtual technology at VA, while acting as a catalyst for the rise and rapid adoption of digital care solutions within the Veteran community. Compelled to transition and pivot away from standard operations, OIT assembled a group of technologists across the Department to create a COVID-19 Scrum Team, which synchronized VA’s $1.65 billion emergency IT procurement by:
- Prioritizing strategic digital initiatives in response to increased technology requests from internal and external stakeholders,
- Inserting technology or subject matter experts across the Department to ensure the continuity of VA’s mission and IT services, and
- Integrating technologists or product line managers into relevant Scrums to solve intra-Departmental challenges and reduce barriers to change.
Led by OIT’s former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Paul Brubaker, as well as OIT’s former Executive Director for IT Program Integration and Chief of Staff, Susan Perez, the COVID-19 Scrum Team was able to streamline new IT requirements, optimize resource allocation for maximum flexibility, and map progress towards VA business goals. As a result of their efforts, the Department was able to facilitate the:
- Expansion of tele-health services, which resulted in over 13.6 million telehealth visits for VA beneficiaries,
- Mature IT infrastructure to increase network capacity, which enabled 400,000 plus staff to connect remotely to the VA network, and
- Provision and deliver more than 225,000 laptops and 12,000 mobile devices in support of VA medical facilities.
The technological hurdles and challenges OIT’s COVID-19 Scrum team overcame throughout the epidemic has prepared the Department for an exciting and dynamic future. As the pandemic persists, VA remains committed to providing agile IT services that offer Veterans and staff the best possible experience. Secretary, Denis McDonough said it best, “We shouldn’t go back to the old way of doing things, because the work we’ve done to respond to the pandemic has forged us into a stronger, better Department for our Veterans.” In support of the Secretary, OIT will continue to lean forward throughout 2022, and a full lookback of the COVID-19 Scrum Team’s accomplishments can be watched in the 2021 Midyear Review or read in the 2021 Year in Review.
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.