President Biden on June 23 signed into law the VA Electronic Health Record Transparency Act that aims to increase the transparency of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) problematic Electronic Health Records Modernization (EHRM) program through regular reporting requirements.

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Ranking Member Jerry Moran, R-Kan., introduced the legislation in December. The act aims to hold the VA accountable for its EHRM program, which has come under fire from VA Office of Inspector General reports and Congress over a troubled roll-out and inaccurate cost estimates.

Reps. Mark Takano, D-Calif., Mike Bost, R-Ill., and Frank Mrvan, D-Ind., introduced companion legislation in the House, which passed the full chamber in November 2021.

“It’s clear that VA’s Electronic Health Record Modernization program is not working for veterans, VA employees, or taxpayers,” Chairman Tester said in a statement. “I’m proud to have worked with Senator Moran and our colleagues to get our bipartisan bill across the finish line, allowing us to increase oversight and transparency on behalf of the VA medical staff using this program, so we can better provide our nation’s veterans the quality care they have earned.”

The legislation calls on the VA for periodic reporting on the costs, performance metrics, and outcomes of its EHRM program. It also calls for an initial 90-day reporting window.

“Now that this legislation has been signed into law, we can make certain the VA is providing the proper transparency throughout the EHRM implementation,” Ranking Member Moran said. “This will better allow the committee to conduct oversight during the deployment process to ensure veterans receive the care they deserve and hold the VA accountable for taxpayer dollars.”

Just this week, the VA announced it is delaying the rollout of its EHRM program at four sites until 2023, due to unanticipated system outages and a lack of system reliability.

The VA said it is “highly confident” in its ability to achieve the updated deployment schedule and “is doing everything possible to ensure safe and successful deployments.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.