UPDATED: The future of VA's PCHS contract in limbo

Editor's note: This story was updated at 3:40 p.m. July 5, 2006, with additional information.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has completed its study on information technology acquisition strategies and is considering whether to use its own procurement vehicle or another governmentwide contract, said Gary Shaffer, the VA’s director of IT capital execution services.

The VA issued a draft solicitation for a follow-on contract to its Procurement of Computer Hardware and Software-2 in July 2005. The VA suspended procurement activities for a PCHS-3 contract pending a review of the study. Shaffer said he expects a final decision shortly, but he could not give a precise date.

Earlier, a VA spokeswoman had said a decision would be made within two months.

Shaffer acknowledged that the recent loss of a VA laptop containing the personal data of more than 26 million active and retired military personnel had slowed the assessment process as the department’s top administrators turned their attention to the theft.

The decision to centralize all VA IT programs across the agency’s three administrations – benefits, health care and cemeteries – is one of the main factors in deciding on the nature of the contract, Shaffer said.

He added that the review is also assessing a variety of security and encryption methods that would prevent access to sensitive data should there be another loss of VA property.

Apptis -- formerly PlanetGov -- GTSI, Hewlett-Packard and MPC Government hold PCHS-2 contracts. VA purchasers who want to buy PCs, servers and peripherals must use the contracts.

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