Washington– U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., has introduced legislation to protect veterans’ personal information in the Department of Veterans Affairs computer network.
Her bill, the Department of Veterans Affairs Information Security Protection Act, would help the VA improve information security without compromising the agency’s ability to provide healthcare, benefits and services to vets.
“My bill offers some common-sense steps we can take right away to protect veterans,” said Kirkpatrick, who is Arizona’s only member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “By boosting oversight and accountability, we can empower the VA in its core mission of helping the men and women who have served our country.”
As the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Kirkpatrick holds a key role in ensuring the VA is effective and accountable in its handling of veterans’ personal information.
Her legislation would:
• Ensure the VA follows current federal law and practices on information security mandated by other government agencies.
• Require the VA to develop an Information Security Strategic Plan that protects current veterans’ information and anticipates future cybersecurity threats. The VA would be required to consult with agencies such as Defense and Homeland Security to establish best practices.
• Require the VA to report to Congress on its progress in implementing the Information Security Strategic Plan, report VA employee violations of its policy, and report any incidents involving the compromise of veterans’ personal information either by the VA or from outside cyberattacks.
Kirkpatrick has prioritized veterans’ issues on behalf of Arizona’s more than half-million veterans. Her legislation tackling the VA claims backlog was the first from Arizona’s current delegation to be passed and signed into law. In 2013, she introduceda bill to strengthen mental health care for rural veterans and their families, and a bill to boost construction of veteran nursing homes on tribal land. During the 111thCongress, Kirkpatrick passed legislation that helped Native American, rural and disabled veterans with critical issues such as housing access and cost-of-living adjustments.