The General Services Administration has entered a seven-year partnership with the Defense Health Agency to assist with its $5.4 billion annual spend on health IT procurement.
Officials said the partnership gives the Defense Department agency access to the various contract vehicles GSA has that offer health IT products and services — such as IT Schedule 70 and other various governmentwide acquisition contracts. GSA will also offer DHA support in using those acquisition mechanisms.
DHA serves as an integrated health care provider for the entire the Defense Department as well as the various branches of the military. It was formed in 2013 during a reorganization of DOD’s health system that eliminated the prior Tricare Management Activity system.
Mary Davie, assistant commissioner for GSA’s Office of Integrated Technology Services, said during a panel presentation Wednesday that GSA will provide DHA with on-site support for all of its health IT procurement needs and assisted acquisition services to help it with effective purchasing.
Moreover, GSA is developing specialized opportunities to help DHA get the health IT products and services it needs.
GSA created a special item number, essentially a special category, on IT Schedule 70 for health IT products so it’s easier for DHA to find and buy what it needs. Likewise, Davie said there are plans to launch a health IT category hallway on the federal acquisition gateway, the administration’s platform for a more unified and better organized federal procurement process. The hallway would serve as a central location for DHA to explore existing acquisition information and solutions on the subject matter, collaborate on best practices, and make more effective and efficient buying decisions.
Both the health IT special item number and the acquisition hallway will be open for use by other agencies for health IT acquisitions, a $31 billion federal market in 2015.
GSA has created similar Schedule 70 special item numbers for cloud and cybersecurity offerings in recent years.
DHA initially set out to create its own indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for health IT, but GSA saw an opportunity to offer a more comprehensive solution to the agency. The two worked together for months to strike the resulting partnership.
GSA hosted an industry day in January on the partnership with more than 650 attendees. Davie said feedback was positive, and the agency moved forward soon after to release a request for information on the Schedule 70 health IT special item number, which has since closed.
“The strategic partnership between [DHA] and GSA will make the process of acquiring Health IT solutions much easier for DHA,” Davie wrote in a GSA blog post earlier in February. “By optimizing processes and technology, reducing costs, and streamlining delivery of core services, DHA will have a simplified way of buying the mission-critical products and services they need.”
GSA said at the industry day that it aims to publish a draft solicitation for the health IT special item number by April 22, with a final update to it by the end of May.
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