VA’s IT shop touts top spot on governmentwide scorecard in push for higher employee satisfaction

The Department of Veterans Affairs spent much of last year making its IT shop one of the most attractive places to work in the federal government.

The Department of Veterans Affairs spent much of last year making its IT shop one of the most attractive places to work in the federal government.

Based on recent data, the VA’s Office of Information and Technology is achieving that goal.

VA OIT ranked number one among agencies with more than 100,000 employees in the 2023 Mission-Support Customer Satisfaction Survey.

VA OIT’s top ranking in the governmentwide survey is based on feedback from more than 53,000 VA employees and reflects all aspects of its functions.

Those functions include support, communications and collaboration, equipment development, modernization and enhancement, and operations and maintenance.

The Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration conduct the annual survey.

VA OIT held the top spot on the same survey in 2022 and 2021. It ranked fourth in its category in 2020.

Kurt DelBene, VA’s assistant secretary for information and technology and its chief information officer, in a blog post recapping 2023 highlights, said VA OIT “is powering world-class veteran health care and benefits through technology.”

“Our digital transformation isn’t simply about making new investments in the cloud or deploying new tech. It’s about meeting the high standards our customers expect in a world where digital interactions are second nature,” DelBene wrote.

VA OIT supports 18.5 million veterans through the VA’s health care and benefits systems. It also supports the work of nearly half a million VA employees and contractors.

“From uptime to ease of access, the results are key indicators that VA’s IT customers appreciate their end-user experiences,” the blog post states.

VA OIT received more than 2.5 million help desk tickets in 2023. It resolved more than 73% of them within 24 hours.

VA OIT in 2022 received a 73.9 engagement score in the Partnership for Public Service’s Best Places to Work in the Federal Government. That’s compared to a 68.4 score for VA as a whole.

VA research released in November 2023 found increases in employee satisfaction corresponded to higher satisfaction from veterans receiving VA care and benefits.

“Employee experience and veteran patient experience are oftentimes different sides of the same coin. And that when our employees are feeling valued and invested in, that care is going to reflect that,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a Nov. 28 press conference.

Meanwhile, the VA is calling on a new generation of in-demand tech workers to consider a stint — if not an entire career — in the federal workforce.

VA OIT last summer implemented a Special Salary Rate for its IT and cybersecurity employees. The SSR gave eligible employees a 17% average pay raise — about $18,000.

“By establishing the SSR, OIT continues to break barriers in federal employee compensation and address challenges to attract and retain top talent,” VA OIT wrote.

Christopher Paris, VA’s acting director of cyber workforce management said VA is able to offer some of the highest rates of basic pay of any Title 5 agency for technologists in the federal government.

“I hope that we’re setting the precedent,” Paris said in the blog post.

The VA sees the need to grow its tech workforce, and all other elements of its labor force, as it prepares for a historic expansion of VA health care and benefits under the 2022 PACT Act.

VA OIT supported PACT Act-related claims for 567,724 veterans and their survivors last year.

VA, more broadly, has processed more than 610,000 claims, granting 77.4% of them and awarding more than $2.4 billion in benefits to veterans and survivors. is now supporting a record 13 million logins per month, and its flagship health and benefits mobile app has been downloaded almost 2 million times.

The VA now has a record 3.6 million online accounts for veterans authenticated using multi-factor authentication. These include accounts on, and its health and benefits app. The department also uses a third-party vendor,, to authenticate online accounts for veterans.

“As the complexity of our organization and its needs increase, veterans remain at the center of what we do and why we do it,” VA OIT wrote in its blog post.

VA OIT states it blocked 37 million malware attempts and 871 million malicious emails last year.

VA OIT says it’s also taking steps to “embrace the red,” and respond to bad news quickly.

In 2023, lawmakers pressed VA officials for answers after technical issues on prevented some veterans from submitting updates to claims and appeals.

DelBene told members of the House VA Committee in December that the VA has implemented a “Code Yellow” to ensure that the department can monitor for potential issues on its website.

DelBene said work underway with the Code Yellow will ensure a VA employee knows about any significant IT issues on within 24 hours.

He added that so far, VA under Code Yellow has consolidated 56 automatic monitors into a unified “watchtower,” where the health of can be discerned in a single place.

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