VA will use Silicon Valley hiring spree to bring fresh talent into EHR program, CIO DelBene says

The hiring scheme is focused on appointing employees to jobs covering transformation efforts including financial accounting management systems, supply chain and HR as well as the EHR system.
Kurt DelBene speaks at a public meeting of the Defense Innovation Board in Austin, Texas March 5, 2020. (DoD photo by EJ Hersom)

The Department of Veterans Affairs will use a recently launched Silicon Valley hiring spree to bring new technology expertise into the agency’s troubled electronic health records modernization program, according to Chief Information Officer Kurt DelBene.

Speaking Friday at a roundtable event with reporters, the agency’s CIO said it would appoint new staff as part of a wider scheme to hire 1000 new employees within its Office of Information and Technology.

The scheme will be used to hire new staff to work on technology transformation across a range of areas including the EHR program. Other areas where newly hired staff will work include financial accounting, supply chain and HR management systems.

appointing employees to jobs focused on transformation efforts including the update of financial accounting, supply chain and HR management systems, in addition to the EHR system.


He told FedScoop: “The EHR has been, as you rightly point out, a challenging project. We are already the largest Oracle Cerner customer in their EHR system. It is also a very complex environment with our medical centers and clinics across the U.S., and we are stressing Cerner in ways they had not been stressed before.”

DelBene added: “I think [the new EHR hires] will be able to focus our efforts in very clear ways, which is what product managers do great at which is here’s all the issues, here’s the underlying problems around those issues – now let’s get to a plan of attack that actually gets us the fastest possible improvement there,” he said.

New product managers brought in through the hiring scheme will be tasked with overseeing implementation of Oracle Cerner’s Millennium platform. The hiring scheme will use a new special salary rate for Technology workers, which is expected to be rolled out early next year.

“Let’s have them define a set of metrics around what great looks like that we’re going to track and we’re going to hold Oracle Cerner accountable for improving their performance as well,” DelBene added, commenting on the role of product managers.

According to DelBene, the VA will also use the lure of a remote-work environment to bring private sector talent to federal service.


The VA hopes that a new roster of product managers could help to hold Oracle Cerner accountable for IT system implementation through aggressive problem solving.

Since its initial rollout in October 2020, the Oracle Cerner EHR system has been roiled by outages and glitches that in some instances — including at a VA medical center in Spokane, Washington — have caused major harm to veterans.

In July, the VA led several federal agencies in submitting a Special Salary Rate (SSR) proposal to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), requesting a higher pay rate for federal IT management workers that fall under OPM’s 2210 occupational series.

The Special Salary Rate for cyber hires, if approved, would mark the first major governmentwide step to address its cyber workforce shortage.

DelBene said that OPM is expected to approve the new SSR pay hike by late January 2023.

Nihal Krishan

Written by Nihal Krishan

Nihal Krishan is a technology reporter for FedScoop. He came to the publication from The Washington Examiner where he was a Big Tech Reporter, and previously covered the tech industry at Mother Jones and Global Competition Review. In addition to tech policy, he has also covered national politics with a focus on the economy and campaign finance. His work has been published in the Boston Globe, USA TODAY, HuffPost, and the Arizona Republic, and he has appeared on NPR, SiriusXM, and PBS Arizona. Krishan is a graduate of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School for Journalism. He grew up in South Korea, Saudi Arabia, India, and Singapore before moving to the United States to study politics and journalism. You can reach him at

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