VA kicks off $1.5B COTS procurement

The Department of Veterans Affairs last week issued a request for proposals for two or more contracts worth up to $1.5 billion to provide department users with a range of hardware and software, from office automation to medical applications.

Allan Gohrband, associate deputy assistant secretary for IRM policy and program assistance at the VA, said the department will also purchase an array of advanced technology, including wireless PC peripherals and personal digital assistants for use in VA hospitals, voice-

activated computers, document imaging systems and electronic-commerce solutions. He said some of these technologies will be added to the five-year pacts as the products mature.

Gohrband said the Procurement for Computer Hardware and Software (PCHS) contracts will differ significantly from the Nationwide Office Automation for Veterans Affairs contract, which they will replace. That contract, held by Lockheed Martin Integrated Solutions Co., was more of a systems integration job than the PCHS (pronounced "peaches") deals.

"We are looking for commodity services at commodity prices," Gohrband said. "There are no bundled services included in PCHS."

A companion contract, the $100 million Procurement of Automated Information Resources Solution, will provide IT services to VA users.

Gohrband said some systems integrators have expressed interest in PCHS. "I would expect we will get bids from a cross-section of industry," he said. "One would expect that the systems integrators would not be interested, but we have heard from a lot of them." He added that he believes a significant number of small and disadvantaged businesses will also submit proposals.

Gilbert Gautereaux, vice president of sales and marketing at AmeriData Federal Systems, would not comment on whether his company plans to bid on PCHS, but he said he believes the solicitation will attract great interest from companies that traditionally sell computers to the government as commodities. "It's like the National Institutes of Health Superstore contract; it's the same type of concept," he said of PCHS.

"I believe a lot of companies will go after it," Gautereaux said. "We're looking at it."

Gohrband said the VA wants to avoid the administrative hassles associated with programs that encompass too many vendors and will most likely keep the number of vendors that win down to two or three.

PCHS bids are due in mid-August, and an award is expected in December.

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