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DHA and GSA: Addressing contract duplication and the role of IT Schedule 70

Last month the Defense Health Agency (DHA) announced its decision to partner with the General Services Administration (GSA) to satisfy its Health Information Technology (HIT) requirements. The Coalition applauds this positive step toward reducing contract duplication. Coalition members look forward to working with DHA and GSA to provide efficient, effective best value solutions to support the healthcare needs of the warfighter.

In articulating its rationale for utilizing GSA’s suite of contract vehicles, DHA stated in part that market research determined that there was overlap between the Alliant GWAC contractors and the former D/SIDDOMS prime contractors. D/SIDDOMS was the Department of Defense’s previous MAIDIQ contract program for HIT. DHA also stated that to promote outcome standardization and cost/process efficiencies it will use Alliant, Alliant SB, 8(a) Stars II, VETS and Schedule 70. Significantly, the notice also indicated that “to facilitate onboarding of new technological solutions as efficiently as possible, DHA will work with GSA’s Schedule 70 program to create a new HIT Special Item (SIN) aligned with DHA and other Federal agencies’ requirements.”

On January 20th DHA will be holding an industry day to share its strategy with the IT contractor community. The industry day will be held at the GSA Central Office with two sessions, one starting at 9 am and the second at 1 pm. The same information will be presented at each session. As part of the industry day GSA will discuss “the work it is doing to create a Schedule 70 HIT Special Item Number (SIN), the GWAC programs, the future Alliant 2 and VETS 2 contracts.” The industry day is a very positive, sound step for DHA and GSA in communicating with industry partners regarding the way forward for DHA’s HIT requirements. Coalition members look forward to hearing first hand, DHA’s strategies for using GSA’s suite of contract vehicles.

Coalition members are also very interested in hearing an update on GSA’s work in evaluating the potential for a HIT SIN. Last summer GSA issued an RFI seeking industry feedback on the possibility of creating a HIT SIN. By letter dated July 7, 2015, the Coalition provided comments in response to the RFI. As noted in the letter, the Coalition supports GSA’s efforts to explore new ways to enhance its acquisition offerings for customer agencies. As part of the industry day, Coalition members look forward to GSA’s feedback on the industry responses to the RFI. This feedback will be an important step in GSA and industry’s partnership working towards efficient, effective and best value use of Schedule 70 to meet HIT needs.

Interestingly, as noted above, DHA wants to facilitate onboarding of new technological solutions as efficiently as possible. The Coalition members share DHA’s strategic goal for Schedule 70. In January 2014, in response to an outreach effort by OMB, the Coalition submitted a white paper entitled “MAS Reform: Towards an Innovation Portal.” The white paper provides recommendations to transform Schedule 70 into the IT Commercial Innovation Schedule. The white paper seeks to build on GSA’s New Introductory Item Special Item Number process by identifying opportunities to streamline the schedule contracting process and reduce barriers to entry to facilitate increased competition and access to innovation from the commercial marketplace.

Finally, the DHA industry day highlights the critical role GSA can play in bringing both customer agencies and contractors together to support the mission. A strong partnership between DHA, GSA and industry will ensure that DHA’s and GSA’s objectives are met. Coalition members look forward to hearing from DHA and GSA on January 20th. The Coalition stands ready to engage in a dialogue with GSA and DHA on achieving efficient, effective best value contracting processes through Schedule 70 to support the warfighter.

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