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The department of VA is a comprehensive assistance system of veterans. It employs about 280,000 people at many facilities, benefits offices, and initiates and manages programs for the benefits of veterans. The department takes a significant amount of the US budget since it is the second largest department in the US government. The department was created due to the large number of persons eligible for veteran benefits. It is divided into three subdivisions; veterans’ Health Administration (VHA), Veterans benefits association (VBA) and National cemetery administration (NCA).
In the past year, the department of veteran affairs has had a hard time due to some blunders made. IT Projects have been stalled and top leaders have been reported to have departed. Investigations have led to the fact that the department has been experiencing a backlog of compensation claims and the progress on an expensive joint health records department has been painstakingly slow. Information yields the complex dysfunction at high levels in the department’s organization. The IT department at the VA has reported a significant turnover of top ranked executives in the system. There is also a lack of official accountability in the general organization’s practice. These issues have led to a serious disconnection between low rank and high ranking employees.
Lately, the organization has had a hard time as the number of claims pending for more than 125 days had piled up to alarming numbers. Pension and entitlement claims had also followed the same trend. This calls for changes that would help streamline the process hence making it more palatable for the users of the VA services. A shift in strategy in early February 2013 causes stalling of a project intended to help the two largest departments in the US share their databases. The stalling resulted in the two departments going to losses of the money invested in the project.
Reports reveal that the problems are not only prevalent in the IT section. In a report combined in 2012, the Deloitte report, several troubles were found in the organization. There was first of all low data quality. This had the effect of making the decision making process by the executives particularly difficult. There also existed a poor organizational quality that could lead to inefficient resource deployment. There was also the fact of duplicative functions across multiple organizational pillars. Right metrics were not being measured and customers did not understand the system. The administration was centralized and contained many management layers that significantly slowed down the efficiency and effectiveness of the company’s service delivery. The problems did not end there. In early March this year, a vulnerability of the department’s security was detected. It was figured out that the system which the department used was subject to hacking thus potential loss and misuse of information which was of course sensitive. The department generally lacked technical configuration controls. It exorbitantly displayed bureaucratic leadership style in which the subordinates were away from the decision making process which proved to be major setback back in the department’s development.
Veterans affairs Department Chief Information officer Roger Baker announced his resignation on Feb 15.His resignation came shortly after secretaries of the two largest government departments announced the end of the interagency Electronic Health Record (iEHR) development though sources indicate that his departure was voluntary. His period at the department was marked by some improvement, with many inside sources inside the organization acknowledging his progress.Turnover was also experienced when deputy assistant secretary for information security (IS), resigned in early 2013. Jeanie Larson, OIT’s director of risk management and incident response, resigned effective March 15. Jeff Shyshka, deputy CIO for service delivery and engineering, retired recently after 35 years with the department. Eric Raffin, executive director of field operations at OIT, left the department after about two years of service, and several other high-level OIT positions have been similarly vacated. Still other top OIT officials are planning their exit strategies, according to one VA source. Chief of Staff John Gingrich also left the agency in March after decades in public service. His exit came months after lawmakers called for his removal in the wake of an IG report noting VA’s over-the-top conference spending. And at press time, Deputy Secretary Scott Gould had announced plans to leave the agency in late May. With these problems, we now understand why a managerial change is required.
According to sources inside the regional VA offices, the main problem lay within the leadership. The leaders in the system were just in a bid to promote their careers hence followed individual instead of organizational interests. This was an issue that led to power struggles since the people working in the higher levels did not even supervise the way lower level employees were carrying out their tasks. In looking at the department’s state, there has not been a significant development in the last five years
In transforming the organisation, we need to first define our goals. The department will need to plan on the viable organisational transformational techniques available for use. There will be a need to define governance first.This will involve redesigning and reengineering organisational structures, responsibilities and roles that support change effort. The numerous layers that presented a problem in communication will need to be eradicated and the leadership made a little bit decentralized.
The leaders selected to guide the organisation in its transformation should have ongoing commitment as they directly impact employee performance. They should duly understand that the subordinates follow their steps. The stakeholders will be educated why the initiative is being undertaken and the expected outcomes which should be to obviously take the department in the desired direction.
There will emerge issues that will hold the organisations change thus all the anticipations should be documented and the management team taught how to resolve them.
There will be the establishment of a steering committee that will serve to generally guide the transforming initiative. The steering committee will approve the budget, make policy regarding the changes and making sure necessary risk management processes are running efficiently. The members of the committee will consist of the experienced leaders of the organisation.
The stakeholders of the transformational process will need to be committed to the change. In the process, the overseer of the organisation change process should ensure that the organisations leaders are actively communicating throughout the Change process. Communication is a key binder in the promotion of unity and working towards a common goal in the sector. The department reportedly had a problem in communication from top to lower levels. To impact the importance of change in the organisation, the message should be continuously repeated to actually reinforce the awareness of the change procedure to the stakeholders. The effectiveness of the communications should be monitored and the impacts that the initiative has on people should be engineered in such a way to steer the organisation to achieve its organisational vision.
An organisational needs survey will need to be carried out. This will helpto determine the desired workforce skills, size and competencies. The company experienced major turnover of executives and that factor should be put into consideration .In this process, gaps will be covered and the results will form a basis for the development of a workforce transition plan. The organisation will then begin the recruitment hiring, deployment, retention, and other staffing and development activities.
The final step will include the workforce development which will serve the function of reducing the deficiencies between the organisation’s vision and current workforce competencies. Performance management, necessary in reinforcing and sustaining the organisations change is applied. Workers will develop the necessary skills vital in making the transition with the new vision in mind. At this point, the employee should understand what he/she needs to do and have the necessary facilities and motivation to do it. In this case, the necessary rewards and incentives should be provided.
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