Peter Levin, CTO for Veterans Affairs, doing a great job

Okay, I’ve worked with Peter for a couple years, and just saw a very positive article which understates his performance and results for vets. For those years, I’ve seen remarkable work including real innovation, like employee and vendor innovation, and increasing use of social media.

I bear witness to this, including some worry that he’s been working eighty hour weeks routinely.  (I couldn’t do it.)

Anyway, he reports to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, to get it right.

Check out Feds@Work: VA’s Peter Levin Pursues ‘Art Of The Possible’ In IT Innovation

“I’m a huge believer in a very high tolerance for errors and mistakes,” he said. “I assume that most of the things I do are going to be wrong or somehow mistaken. So I rely on a highly iterative process, a highly collaborative process and a highly communicative process that allows me to say, ‘What about? What if? Could we try? Let’s engage each other constructively in a conversation not about why it won’t work but how it will work.'”

Levin says his aim is to “encourage the culture” at VA to “recognize that it’s much better to have tried something silly and know not what to do than to stay in the rut you’re in, knowing that you’re never going to succeed on the trajectory that you’re on,.”

“In government, frankly, there’s a premium in saying ‘no’ because if you say ‘no,’ nobody can hold you accountable for having made a mistake. I’m trying to find the ‘yeah sayers,’ the ones who say ‘I have no idea either but I know how to run an experiment.'”

Peter just blogged about new efforts to help vets, particularly regarding finding a job, check out Celebrating Our Veterans With “Apps for Heroes”.

0 thoughts on “Peter Levin, CTO for Veterans Affairs, doing a great job

  1. Agreed. I had the good fortune to be part of a few meetings with Peter. He and folks like Todd Park (and some others) really have the ability to excite those around them on several levels: through intellectual and conceptual inquisitiveness, practical and tactical clarity, mission and service (recognizing who they serve) motivation. The bite-sized approach Levin speaks about in the referenced article is important. Blue Button started as a smaller focused effort at VA and now is being rolled out to all Federal Employees. It’s a great example of the “thin edge of the wedge” strategy. In the end, that’s going to create a huge base for electronic health records.


  2. Although I have never had the opportunity to meet Dr. Peter Levin in person but I’m HONORED to be able to call him a friend. Dr. Levin has called on me to assist him on different aspects pertaining to the Blue Button and assisting the developers with the eBenefit’s Website of which I felt honored that he would ask someone as myself to help.
    As a Vietnam Veteran I can attest to the fact that Dr. Levin has and continues to help not only Vietnam Veterans but ALL VETERANS. He is a true assest to the Department of Veterans Affairs and I also Commend Secretary Shinseki for everything he has and continues to do for all of US. Thank You Dr. Levin and Secretary Shineski.
    I would also like to Thank Rachel Lunsford who is big part of Team Peter at the Department of Veterans Affairs.


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