VA inventorying data assets, constructing virtual test environment for AI apps

The department is further preparing a statement of objectives for industry on transforming its supply chain with AI.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is inventorying all of its data assets to ensure it’s at the quality needed to enable artificial intelligence, according to the senior adviser for strategic initiatives.

Paul Brubaker is spearheading a departmentwide effort among operating administration staff offices to get policy control of that data, he said Thursday at Swish’s GIST 2022 conference produced by FedScoop.

VA is integrating AI operations into its DevSecOps environment to speed up and remove humans from some decision-making processes, but more data is needed to understand veterans’ journeys and better deliver services to them.

“That doesn’t mean we’re not doing some things with AI today,” Brubaker said. “Particularly around network resiliency with identifying behaviors and applications and devices that we can get in front of an employee, identifying if things are crashing or not working well.”


VA remains in the early stages of the effort; AI algorithms lack a “robust” neural network or the ability to learn, but “it’s on the radar,” he added.

Chief Technology Officer Charles Worthington and his innovation team are currently identifying AI best practices to be implemented departmentwide.

“You’re going to see environment testing a lot more,” Brubaker said.

To that end, VA’s National Simulation Center (SimLEARN) in Orlando, Florida, is constructing a virtual test environment for a host of AI applications.

VA also plans to “dramatically” transform its complex supply chain using AI, Brubaker said. The department’s chief acquisition officer is leading that effort with Brubaker assisting. 


“We’re going to issue a statement of objectives to industry asking for best ideas, and it’s not going to be your typical statement of work,” Brubaker said. “It’s not going to be overly prescriptive.”

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