Costs jumped on VA's Wi-Fi contract, IG says

Contract terminated after costs rose from $91K to $161K

Contracting costs jumped 77 percent on a contract to install Wi-Fi infrastructure at 236 Veterans Affairs Department facilities, in part because the VA rushed the procurement, according to a new report from the department’s Office of Inspector General.

The VA awarded the five-year contract to Catapult Technology Ltd. for $91.4 million in October 2008, but current costs are projected at $161.5 million, according to the report by Mark Myers, director of the IG's Healthcare Resources Division Office of Contract Review.

The VA terminated the contract due to invoicing and pricing problems in October 2010 after installation was completed at 45 sites.

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“We determined that the time frames established to plan, solicit and award a contract were unreasonable,” Myers wrote. “Our review determined that because of the rush to award, VA did not establish firm requirements and issued a statement of objectives that lacked the detail needed for vendors to submit reasonable firm-fixed-price proposals to VA. The lack of detail has caused contract costs to escalate under the contract as well as significant delay of installation of Wi-Fi nationwide.”

The IG report dated March 31 made seven recommendations to the VA’s deputy assistant secretary at the Office of Acquisitions and Logistics, along with the assistant secretary for information and technology.

In a response, the acquisitions and logistics deputy assistant secretary said the entity that awarded the contract was not part of the acquisitions and logistics office at the time of the award.

The VA deputy assistant secretary agreed with four findings and disagreed with two of the findings, in one case asserting that the finding was moot because the contract has been terminated.

Also, the VA deputy assistant secretary agreed with six of the seven recommendations.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Tue, Nov 26, 2013 Steven Oregon

the wifi signal is extremely weak at the Portland Oregon VA, no excuse for it,,, the people who set it up are either inexperienced or could care less... IMHO

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 Frank Moran VA Hospital Portland

I have been around for a long time and have deal with IT (OIT)roll outs. I have all ways felt any nation wide roll out cost the VA 100% more than it should. Here at the Portland Medical Center we have staff that knows how to do this type of work, yet we have to work with OIT and babysit their conttractors knowing that we are wasting money. We can no longer waste this type of money.

Wed, Apr 13, 2011

I was on the original work group for this project. The cost overruns were no surprise to me. At the outset I warned the leaders that the budget originally submitted was 1/2 of what would be necessary. On top of that, feature creep set in, adding access points in areas with limited benefit (stairwells for example), effectively stealing resources from later installs. And now, the same group wants to control future RTLS installations - likely leading to another disaster

Wed, Apr 13, 2011

To the VA IG do not stop there keep digging there is more to this. There were other solutions offered but the VA had decided what they wanted before hand and were closed to other solutions.

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