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VA appoints Paul to serve as agency’s chief data officer

The Department of Veterans Affairs has appointed Kshemendra Paul to be the VA’s chief data officer and executive director for data governance and analytics.

According to the VA, the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act requires federal agencies to develop statistical evidence to support policymaking, maintain a comprehensive data inventory available to the public and implement protections to ensure security of confidential information.

In his role as CDO, Paul will support President Trump’s call for the development of a federal data strategy to improve government operations and evidence-based policymaking.

“President Trump is delivering on his promises to improve care for our veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in a written statement. “We will continue to build on this progress by leveraging data as an asset to better deliver the care and services Veterans expect and deserve.”

Specifically, Paul will be “responsible for leading data governance, data analytics and business intelligence capabilities to inform VA-wide decision making and providing an authoritative clearinghouse for the collection, analysis and dissemination of information about veterans and VA programs.”

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Kshemendra Paul

Before working at the VA, Paul served as the cloud action officer for the Department of Homeland Security, and he helped coordinate efforts to migrate information technology assets to cloud management platforms and optimize data centers.

Paul is charged with bringing “improved data governance, transparency and innovation” to the VA—the country’s largest integrated healthcare system—with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) projected to spend about $81 billion on care for about 6.9 million patients this year.

However, an audit released on Monday by the Government Accountability Office found that when the VHA recently allocated funds to its regional networks and medical centers, it did not use the most recent data on patient workloads.

In fact, auditors reported that the Fiscal Year 2019 allocation levels determined by the models were based on data from Fiscal Years 2013 through 2017 but did not include data from Fiscal Year 2018.

“By not using the most recent data available when it makes final allocations, VHA’s allocations may not accurately reflect medical centers’ funding needs if they experience workload changes,” according to the GAO. “For example, from Fiscal Years 2017 through 2018, 34 medical centers had patient workload growth of over 3 percent, and nine experienced a decline of over 3 percent, which was not reflected in the Fiscal Year 2019 allocations.”

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