VA’s Wi-Fi Upgrades Fall Short

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched a plan in 2008 to upgrade the wireless networks at 236 VA hospitals and clinics across the nation. During that process, they ran into a multiple delays, and it stalled out all their intended progress.

The original plan was to use the upgraded networks to support real-time triangulation of equipment so it can be tracked. The networks were also going to be used to support the VA’s administration program. This program operates by using Wi-Fi bar code scanners so that bar codes on prescriptions matches the bar codes on patients’ wrist bands to ensure the proper medicine is administered.

Given the Wi- Fi’s limited ability to broadcast at more than 200 milliwatts, their effective range indoors is about 120 feet and outdoors is about 300 feet. The VA medical centers, like many buildings, feature many concrete walls. Those concrete walls limit the Wi-Fi’s limited range even further.

The unforeseen problem is set to the tune of $91.4 million to date. In testimony to the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, VA CIO Roger Baker explained because of the thickness of the concrete, the VA must install more access points to reach their goal of 100% coverage.

The VA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) criticized the VA for not performing a full site survey, which was required by the installation contract. The OIG also noted the severity with which the VA underestimated the square footage, resulting in the need for an extraordinary amount of additional access points.

Just how many new access points will be required is unknown and is going to vary by location. The installation contract is “on hold,” and will likely negotiate a new contract in light of these developments.

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.