The Department for Veterans Affairs (VA) highlighted the efficiency and magnitude that a crowdsourced tool has brought to the agency’s healthcare, human resource, benefits, and financial systems in a blog post last week.

Michael Gao, a software developer at the D.C. VA Medical Center, and his team developed the open-source software called Light Electronic Action Framework (LEAF). VA employees can adopt the solution to provide insights into VA operations and processes, and those employees can also process documents they produce through LEAF, thereby making it serve as a library for VA resources.

LEAF uses automation to streamline data storage and processing, since employees choose what to enter and what should be automated.

“LEAF is flipping the government modernization model by empowering front-line employees with the ability to modernize their everyday workflow,” LEAF Chief Learning Officer Susan Hall said.

VA said that sites that have adopted LEAF have reported positive results. North Carolina VA hiring decision approvals have accelerated from taking 48 days to now only taking 22 days. The Phoenix VA LEAF has helped officials identify and fill staffing absences. In Oregon, the Portland VA Medical Center has used LEAF to fuel a real-time graphical dashboard of quality-of-care indicators.

Since LEAF was developed within VA with open source components, it does not require additional licensing fees as its user base expands, making it a relatively cost-effective solution. And currently, the platform “supports 85 business processes and 39,000 active monthly users,” VA said.

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Melissa Harris