VA to use NASA SEWP IV contracts

The Veterans Affairs Department has decided to scrap its Procurement of Computer Hardware and Software-3 contracts and will instead use NASA's Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement IV, a governmentwide acquisition contract vehicle that offers a wide range of information technology products.

The announcement, which came in an e-mail message to the service-disabled veteran-owned small business community, encouraged them to bid on SEWP IV. Those proposals are due Aug. 7.

The decision to switch was not totally unexpected as VA had earlier suspended procurement activities for the PCHS-3 to study whether to continue it or make the transition to an alternative acquisition of IT products, including to the SEWP program.

Gary Shaffer, the VA’s director of IT capital execution services, explained that the decision to centralize all VA IT programs throughout the agency’s three administrations – benefits, health care and cemeteries – was one of the main factors in deciding to review the nature of the contract.

In a follow-up e-mail message Thursday, Wayne Simpson, VA’s deputy director for the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, said PCHS-2 would expire as originally planned in April 2007.

“In order to ensure an orderly transition, VA will migrate some items to SEWP-III. SEWP-IV is scheduled for award in the November 2006 time frame. VA will not use GSA contracts to satisfy its hardware and software requirements, as SEWP-IV will be mandatory,” Simpson said.

Analysts and contractors said they were concerned that the two-week deadline for the NASA SEWP IV would not be enough time for some contractors to prepare bids for the new contract vehicle.

Mike McMahan, president of SDV Solutions, a veteran-owned small business, said companies like his “have only a certain amount of bandwidth” to go after these indefinite delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts.

He said when he learned of the decision, he requested a copy of the directive. He said he received an e-mail message from Efrain Fernandez, VA’s associate deputy assistant secretary for acquisitions, that instructed him to file a Freedom of Information Act request.

“A lot of this could be easily rectified by not making SEWP-IV a mandatory contract,” McMahan said. “There are plenty of GSA Schedule holders that are veteran-owned and disabled-veteran owned companies that could provide good service, good pricing and good delivery to the VA. We’re doing that to all the other federal agencies,” he said.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.


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