Sunday, October 3, 2010

VA's Purchasing Changes

Frederick Downs Jr., Chief Procurement and Logistics Officer for the VA’s Veterans Health Administration, appeared before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Health Subcommittee to discuss the VHA’s contracting and procurement practices.

All acquisition personnel previously reporting to the VISNs or to medical center directors now report to the Procurement and Logistics Office (PL&O). The PL&O develops the annual VHA acquisition plan that forms the basis for VHA’s acquisition strategy and serves as the liaison for the logistics staff in each of the 21 VISNs. VHA has approximately $5 billion worth of medical equipment in service at more than 1,400 sites with over 750,000 devices in hundreds of different categories.

The VHA has centralized their medical equipment within Biomedical Engineering (BME) and is working directly with clinicians, logisticians, and acquisitions staff to purchase equipment. BME identifies equipment that needs to be replaced, does market research, defines functional requirements with clinicians, writes specifications and statements of work, evaluates proposals, and operates as the contracting officer’s technical representative on contracts.

Acquisitions are accomplished by using VA’s Federal Supply Schedules but a significant portion is acquired through sources obtained via their publication of solicitations in, by commercial advertising, or by the VHA hearing about responsible bidders and vendors with products and services to offer.