Veterans Health Admin procurement reforms not working, IG says

The Veterans Health Administration created a new oversight process for its contracting in 2009, but it is not being carried out consistently, according to a new report.

Acquisition oversight reforms begun two years ago at the Veterans Health Administration have not been effective, according to a new report from the Office of Inspector General.

The VHA has 21 networks that oversee purchasing for 150 health care facilities. In 2009, the agency created a new Integrated Oversight Process to monitor those contracting activities. The new process was to replace the traditional technical and legal reviews

When the new process reviews were conducted, they generally resulted in fewer deficiencies in the contracts. However, the integrated oversight reviews were only performed 32 percent of the time, Belinda Finn, assistant inspector general for audits and evaluations, wrote in the Dec. 1 report.

“The 2009 changes were not effective because VA did not follow the new review processes consistently and VA and VHA acquisition management did not provide adequate guidance and oversight on IOP implementation,” Finn wrote in the report.

Auditors estimated that the reviews were not performed for about 3,000 contracts valued at $1.6 billion between June 2009 and May 2010.

Procurement practices have been a major concern at the Veterans Affairs Department for more than a decade.

The inspector general recommended that VA and VHA acquisition management improve oversight of Veterans Information Management Service contracts and develop effective tools to manage those contracts. The agencies agreed with the recommendation.

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