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VA Cooperative Studies Program (CSP)

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Data sources, access, and use

CSPEAR activities align with the VA Office of Research & Development (ORD) strategic priority, “Putting VA Data to Work for Veterans.” By providing VHA leadership, including ORD and CSP leadership, with timely, descriptive information, CSPEAR helps ORD plan research that helps fulfill its vision of achieving a learning health care system for the Veterans it serves. 

Data sources

  1. VA Corporate Data Warehouse (CDW): CDW is a repository comprising data from multiple VHA clinical and administrative systems. The National Data Systems (NDS) grants access to the CDW through the Electronic Permission Access System (ePAS). The VA Informatics and Computing Infrastructure (VINCI) provide access to CDW data through workgroups composed of NDS-authorized individuals. All individual-level data are securely stored and accessed behind the VA firewall on servers provided by VINCI. For the duration of data access, NDS-authorized CSPEAR personnel may only access and use CDW data through these servers.

  2. National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics (NCVAS), VA Office of Enterprise Integration: This Center provides aggregate data and statistics on Veterans by request and on its website (

  3. Data from Research Projects: CSPEAR may use data from research projects in accordance with the objectives outlined within that project’s protocol, per the approval of the appropriate oversight bodies, such as an Institutional Review Board (IRB) and VA Research and Development (R&D) Committee. Staff must be listed on the project’s approved study forms to gain access to these data. While data accessed through research can be used for operational purposes, data accessed for operational purposes cannot be used for the activities of these research projects.

Data access

Access is restricted to individuals who:

  1. Are acting under a VA appointment, including full and part-time employees, without compensation (WOC) employees, or individuals appointed or detailed to VA under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) of 1970;
  2. Are CSP personnel assigned to CSPEAR by their respective CSP Center Director;
  3. Have obtained all applicable permissions to access the data from the designated data owner;
  4. Are up-to-date on VA privacy training requirements; and
  5. Acknowledge that data are to be handled in accordance with institutional best practices.

CSPEAR personnel are responsible for accessing and using only the minimum necessary information required to accomplish the intended purposes of the project. Access to VA sensitive data is restricted to team members on a need-to-know basis. Personnel may not provide data access to users who do not have permission.

Use of data

CSPEAR uses existing VHA data to describe the health and care of Veterans using VA health care services. Its findings are intended for use by and within VA. CSPEAR personnel may use data only for those operational activities authorized by CSP Central Office and approved by the CSP Epidemiology Center Directors. Data may not be used for activities that constitute research, as defined by VA ORD. Data accessed for CSPEAR operational activities may not be subsequently analyzed, supplemented, or modified to produce information that expands the knowledge base of a scientific discipline or other scholarly field of study.