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Susan Perez, Chief of Staff for the Office of Information and Technology at the Department of Veterans Affairs, discusses how the OIT’s digital transformation strategy helped the VA respond to the pandemic

Years of preparation at the Department of Veterans Affairs allowed for a smooth transition to teleworking as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Susan Perez, the VA’s Office of Information and Technology Chief of Staff, tells Government Matters’ Francis Rose that the agency’s Digital Transformation Strategy aided this shift.

“We had several things in motion, including migration of our computing into the cloud, migrating applications into the cloud,” Perez said. “These things all played a big, key role while we got ourselves structured and postured to respond to this pandemic.”

The strategy, which began over two years ago, laid out a roadmap towards IT modernization at the VA with the goal of improving services for customers. Migrating to the cloud is just one piece of that, according to DigitalVA. It also includes plans for managing data, improving cybersecurity and decommissioning legacy systems.

“We tested ourselves at an agency level to make sure that we could support all of our employees, both government and contractor-wise, to be in a remote posture,” Perez added. “We also had to make sure that we could support the additional telehealth engagements.”

She went on to say the agency has had over 3 million telehealth visits since the start of 2020, reaching a record high of 35 thousand daily visits late last month.

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