By Bob Brewin
01:00 AM

VA/DOD data sharing imperiled by theft?
The fallout continues from the loss of personal information on 26.5 million veterans from the home of a Department of Veterans Affairs data analyst after someone broke in and stole a PC and digital storage device.

The incident could slow the VA/Defense Department health data-sharing project, which started to gain traction in the past year.

At the tail end of a Senate hearing on the data theft, VA Secretary Jim Nicholson told Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) that he could not guarantee that the VA had controls in place to protect sensitive personal information in any data-sharing project with DOD.

The VA and DOD will probably approach any data exchange program, including the Clinical Data Repository/Health Data Repository, much more cautiously until the VA gets is data-protection act together. The repository enables real-time bidirectional exchange of health data between the two departments.

DOD to buy into VA PACS system?
One salient point missed in the whole VA data imbroglio is that the agency has produced world-class software and systems, including the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) electronic health record system hailed by pundits and publications ranging from Fortune to Federal Computer Week's own Government Health Information Technology magazine.

The VA also developed a picture archiving and communications system (PACS) for filmless radiology that includes VistA Imaging and VistARad.

Robert McFarland, who recently retired as the VA's chief information officer, told the Interceptor last week that he believed DOD's Military Health System was close to tapping the VA's PACS for DOD's imaging products.

McFarland added that he backs the language in the House's fiscal 2007 Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, which calls for the VA and DOD to use common software, data standards and repositories for health IT systems.

Such a move, McFarland said, would reduce application development and maintenance costs for the two largest health systems in the country.

Bye bye, AKO; hello, DISA uberportal
Look for the Army Knowledge Online (AKO) Web portal to disappear around the start of the next fiscal year, to be replaced by a Defense Knowledge Online (DKO) portal with a distinct Defense Information Systems Agency flavor.

DKO will have a "DISA portal as its top layer or "˜uberportal,'" according to a recent joint brief by James Perry, DISA portal product line manager, and Col. Edwin Payne, chief of Army AKO/KM integration, that made its way to Intercepts Central.

Although it looks as though DISA has successfully subsumed AKO in the name of partnership, Army CIO Lt. Gen. Steven Boutelle will be chairman of the DKO Board of Directors, according to the Perry/Payne brief.

DISA's director, Air Force Lt. Gen Charles Croom, will serve as executive secretary of the DKO board, whose members include Dave Wennergren, the Navy's CIO; Lt. Gen. Michael Peterson, the Air Force's CIO; Brig. Gen. George Allen, the Marine Corps' CIO; and Army Lt. Gen. John Wood, deputy commander of the Joint Forces Command.

Despite the window dressing and the fact that DKO will be built on AKO architecture, it sure looks like DISA beat Army in the portal game.

No guard units guarding the border
Despite the fact that President Bush promised to start deploying as many as 6,000 National Guard troops on or about June 1 to support the Customs and Border Protection folks, no indication appeared last week at the Interceptor's New Mexico border observation post that such an operation had begun.

Sometimes even the president has to wait for stuff to happen.

Army Lt. Col. Kimberly Lalley, public affairs officer for the New Mexico National Guard, said she expects the border mission to begin in mid-June, with the guard providing command, control and logistics support for all the guard units that will rotate through the state on their border missions. Lalley promised she would invite me to cover the mission when it begins, and I can hardly wait for my next visit to the border town of Columbus, N.M.

When Pancho Villa attacked Columbus in 1916, the Army dispatched 10,000 troops under the command of Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing on a mission to hunt down Villa. The Army built a large camp in Columbus, and a state park on the site of that camp includes the first vehicle grease rack ever used by the Army.

I took my wife, Deborah, on a vacation side trip last year to see the grease rack, and guys, learn from my experience. Don't ever take your wife to see a grease rack, no matter how historic. Dozens of roses don't even begin to ease the pain.

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