Before the July 4th holiday, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Acquisition Center (NAC) held its VA NAC Industry Days conference in Chicago. It was a great opportunity for Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contractors that hold pharmaceutical and medical product and service contracts to hear from VA acquisition leaders about their current priorities and initiatives. FSS contractors also had the unique opportunity to have one-on-one meetings with their contracting officers during the industry days. The VA NAC is to be commended for all their hard work in putting together the conference. It was a tremendous first step in the Mythbuster’s dialogue on how to most efficiently and effectively deliver best value products and services to our nation’s veterans.
One point made during the Keynote by Executive Director of the VA Enterprise Program Management Office, Greg Giddens, particularly resonated with me. It was the “two thumbs test” that the VA is using in decision-making these days under Secretary Robert McDonald. The two thumbs up test is whether something is 1) good for veterans and 2) good for the taxpayer. At the Coalition, we are committed to advocating for common sense solutions that improve the Federal acquisition system for both the government and its industry partners. In the case of the VA, a more efficient and effective procurement system could deliver pharmaceuticals and innovative commercial medical products and services to our veterans faster—and at a better value to taxpayers. Now that’s a “two thumbs up!”
You may be aware that members of the Coalition’s Healthcare Committee are currently developing a supplemental to our MAS Pricing Policy white paper focused on pricing and policy matters unique to VA Schedules. We hope that the recommendations made in the white paper will serve to continue the dialogue with the VA on many of the topics discussed during the NAC Industry Days, such as:
- how to best leverage the Schedules program to get veterans the medical products and services they need at a best value to taxpayers,
- how contract procedures may be modified in consideration of VA customer preferences and demand for innovation, and
- how to increase efficiencies and reduce the cost of acquisition for all stakeholders.
The Coalition also looks forward to continuing the dialogue with the VA’s NAC and the Strategic Acquisition Center (SAC) regarding the vision and objectives for the Medical/Surgical Prime Vendor program. Again, we sincerely appreciate the VA’s acquisition leadership for launching the dialogue on these important topics at the VA NAC Industry Days in Chicago.