PSC: New research center isn't CMS' only option

The Professional Services Council charged that officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have not considered all of their options to meet their mandates and operations as they implement the health care reform law, according to a letter sent April 25.

Officials have been intent on using a Federally Funded Research and Development Center, instead of using available government contracts, holding competitions for work, or considering hiring new federal employees, the industry group wrote. PSC, representing service contractors, opposes that approach.

“For more than a year, CMS has been singularly focused on one and only one solution—the creation of an FFRDC,” the letter states.

The FFRDC option could lead to unconstrained growth in its own staff and program support across a wide range of work because CMS has undefined functions and unknown requirements, the PSC letter says.

Further, the industry group argues, CMS officials only outlined a limited government structure of a potential FFRDC that would make its work narrowly focused. Without the structure, the FFRDC could potentially compete with work that contractors, including small businesses, are doing now.

Currently, CMS is under pressure to implement the Affordable Care Act. In March, CMS officials issued a Federal Register notice about their intention to establish an FFRDC to help modernize CMS’ business processes and other supporting systems. Officials wrote that they need help in developing requirements for programs, finding strategies to meet those requirements and more.

Officials concluded that, “Based on a market assessment of those vehicles, there is not a single source to fit CMS’ unique needs.”

PSC said though that CMS officials never conducted a request for information and didn’t do enough market research to find another possible approach. CMS may find more efficient ways to operate, both through competed contracts or hiring new federal employees.

CMS current approach “creates an open-ended organization that will benefit from the non-competitive, no-bid assignment of work that is contrary to statutory requirements and presidential direction,” said Stan Soloway, PSC’s president and CEO.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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