VIDEO EXTRA: Ms. Luwanda Jones Leads a Smart Sourcing Initiative that is Transforming the Veteran Experience
As the Deputy Chief Information Officer for the Office of Strategic Sourcing, Luwanda Jones oversees the acquisition of more than $5 billion in IT services and products at Department of Veterans Affairs.
If you read the position description and instantly envision row upon row of laptops, desktop computer screens, and hard drives, think again.
The strategic sourcing universe overseen by Ms. Jones encompasses a sprawling supply chain that includes a variety of private-sector vendors, VA Office of Information and Technology risk management experts, IT category specialists, and much more.
For Veterans and families, VA’s strategic sourcing operation is the starting point of how they connect to telehealth visits with their doctors, attend remote-enabled benefits appeals hearings, and seamlessly access appointment scheduling apps via their mobile phones.
Fundamentally, the road to providing Veterans timely, reliable services and benefits that they have earned begins in Ms. Jones’s strategic sourcing division.
And, during the past year in which a once-a-generation pandemic temporarily disrupted some supply chains, carrying out the mission of strategic sourcing required redoubled effort and quick, creative thinking to develop workarounds, said Ms. Jones.
“We've always had good relationships with our partners, but during the start of the pandemic, when you look at it from an IT perspective, globally, we were all after the same assets and commodities to continue providing all of the services that VA offers to support Veterans,” said Ms. Jones. “And in the pandemic, our work could not have been successful without the collaboration of the vendor community,” Ms. Jones said.
Serving as the gateway to millions of Veterans who depend on VA’s IT infrastructure and digital platforms is a role that is far more than just functional for Ms. Jones. As a Veteran herself, Ms. Jones considers the work of providing quality experiences to Veterans through state-of-the-art IT and digital products as a personal and professional mission.
“As a retired colonel and the wife of an Army Veteran, I see my career as my way to continue providing selfless service to our nation,” said Ms. Jones. “As the front door to the marketplace, our Strategic Sourcing office connects vendors who have innovative solutions with requirements that meet our unique needs, support VA’s strategic plan, and improve customer service to our Veterans, their families, and their caregivers,” said Ms. Jones.
By applying a smart, agile approach to strategic sourcing, Ms. Jones and her teams are integral to the Office of Information and Technology’s success at transforming the Veteran experience.
The transformation also includes sharpening quality-control processes that safeguard Veterans’ privacy and essential data as they use mobile phones and digital platforms to access VA health care and other benefits. The road to strong cybersecurity protocols also begins with strategic sourcing. “These days, cybersecurity is everybody’s business,” Ms. Jones said.
In addition, Ms. Jones emphasizes the importance of building and maintaining diverse teams as a key component of overall workforce transformation — a multi-faceted human-capital supply chain that positively impacts Veterans’ interactions with VA.
That dedication to diversity extends to vendor relations, as well, and is critical to carrying out VA’s commitment to supporting equitable opportunities for all communities.
“For those in private industry who have innovative ideas to share, I encourage you to come meet with us,” said Ms. Jones. “We’re committed to working with businesses of all sizes. And we’re also excited to have a partner in VA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), which enables Veterans to gain access to economic opportunities,” Ms. Jones said.
Watch the video of Ms. Jones’s recent discussion at LinkedIn Live to learn more about VA’s Office of Strategic Sourcing.
If you’d like to support VA’s on-going strategic sourcing efforts, reach out to our Vendor Management Office at ITVMO@va.gov.
Our commitment to digital and IT transformation is shaped by daily dedication to customer service and the close collaboration of our workforce, managers, and leaders. Ready to join us in improving Veterans’ care? Check out all current information and technology career opportunities on DigitalVA. You can also contact VA’s Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer at 512-326-6600, Monday thru Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST or by submitting a resume to VACareers@va.gov.