Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) are asking for answers after the Coast Guard canceled a contract to modernize its medical records system, costing taxpayers nearly $67 million.
A Senate press release detailed the letter they sent to Adm. Karl Schultz, the new commandant of the Coast Guard, asking what the USCG will do to hold the personnel responsible for the problems with the Integrated Health Information System accountable and what will be done to ensure past mistakes will not be repeated when it acquires a new electronic health records system. They also requested details on what the Coast Guard will do to address the negative impact of its current paper health record management system.
The contract was canceled following a report by a government watchdog that revealed the Coast Guard failed to oversee the process adequately. GAO found that the Coast Guard’s IHiS suffered from mismanagement, leaving contractors unclear as to who decision makers were and placing sensitive medical data at risk. The Coast Guard terminated the contract following GAO’s report, and they have been forced back to a paper health record management system, which could easily result in mistakes in medical data tracking and sharing.
“We wasted tens of millions of dollars on software and equipment that didn’t work, and then millions more because of our contractual obligations — and the worst part is that this appears to have been preventable,” McCaskill said. “The Coast Guard didn’t follow its own contracting guidelines, and we need to find out what went wrong.”
“The brave members of the Coast Guard deserve answers, and moving forward they need a fully functioning, efficient electronic health records system,” said Johnson. “The committee is committed to providing the necessary oversight until this goal is met.”