Set-Asides

Bundling language debated

When House and Senate conferees meet to resolve their differences on a bill to reauthorize Small Business Administration programs they will discuss whether to include language designed to curtail "bundling" of purchases into procurements for which only large firms can compete.

The Senate included the language in its version of the bill which it passed last month. But the House dropped the provision in its bill because Democrats opposed it. The House passed its version of the bill last week.

The Clinton administration objects to the bundling provisions because officials say it would limit popular multiple-award task order contracts. Kristin Young a spokeswoman for House Small Business Committee chairman Rep. James Talent (R-Mo.) said lawmakers hope to reach a compromise.

The conference committee meeting had not been scheduled at press time.

GAO: MTS lessons costly

The General Accounting Office last week told a House subcommittee that the Health Care Financing Administration wasted $80 million in its failed attempt to develop a computer system to track and pay Medicare bills.

Joel Willemssen GAO's director of information resource management at GAO said to the House Commerce Committee's subcommittee on oversight and investigations: "What has the money purchased? A huge learning experience about the difficulty of acquiring such a large system under a single contract and a better understanding of the requirements for developing a Medical claims processing system but no integrated claims processing software to aid HCFA in preventing fraud and abuse."

HCFA which in August canceled a 3-year-old contract with GTE Government Systems to build the software portion of the Medicare Transaction System spent about $50 million for software development and about another $30 million for internal costs Willemssen testified.

Bruce Fried director of the Center for Health Plans and Providers at HCFA said HCFA spent only $41 million on software development.

"As of Sept. 9 GTE reported to HCFA that it had incurred costs of about $45 million " Fried said. "As of that date GTE has submitted vouchers to HCFA for about $41 million which HCFA was paid."

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