Peachy future for VA buying

VA contract Web site

With the success of a contracting vehicle known as Peaches 2 under their belt, officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs are planning to launch the next generation of the program next year.

Although the contracting mechanism, which is officially called Procurement of Computer Hardware and Software-2, still has time before it expires, it is quickly reaching its cap of more than $1 billion in sales, according to Edward Meagher, the VA’s deputy chief information officer.

"We think Peaches 2 was a huge success," Meagher said. "We've simply see the end in sight a little earlier than we expected. We are going to reach the ceiling sooner."

Peaches 2 required all VA facilities to purchase hardware through the contracting vehicle, a move intended to save money, reduce costs and standardize much of the VA's equipment.

The four prime venders on Peaches 2 included GTSI; Hewlett-Packard; Apptis/Dell, formerly PlanetGov; and MPC Computers.

Although Peaches 2 has another two years to run, Meagher said the VA had decided to make some changes, including recompeting the vendors for the program and setting a higher cap.

That doesn't mean the new deal will cover everything. "We are not looking for this to be the Wal-Mart," Meagher said. "We want to limit this to a finite number of devices that meet our needs."

The contracting vehicle has made it easier for the VA to track buying habits departmentwide and encourage information technology managers to get the best price, not necessarily the name brand, he said.

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