Procurement

DHA readies $10 billion IT contract

Shutterstock image: digital, global health.

The top procurement manager at the Defense Health Agency said DHA is in the final stages of developing a solicitation for an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity IT services contract worth as much as $10 billion over five years.

The agency will hold its last industry day for the Health Information Technology Services IDIQ contract on Feb. 17, said Col. Scott Svabek, DHA's acting director of procurement, during a Jan. 22 panel discussion on federal procurement and small business sponsored by AFCEA DC.

The final solicitation is expected in the third quarter of 2015.

The contract will be a follow-on to an IT support contract called Systems Integration, Design, Development, Operations and Maintenance Services, which expires at the end of 2015. The industry day is aimed at gathering input from the private sector on capabilities.

Established in 2013 by the Defense Department, DHA is responsible for managing enterprisewide support of DOD's medical mission, including the establishment of shared services and the introduction of common business and clinical processes across the Military Health System.

In response to audience questions, Svabek declined to say how many vendor contracts would be awarded to support the IDIQ. "I don't know the exact number. Just a number that stands up in court," he said referring to the growing use of protests against federal contract awards.

Svabek said he turned to the broad IDIQ contract option rather than an existing governmentwide acquisition contract because of the fees GWACs charge and the fact that he would have to cede control to other agencies whose goals might not match his own.

"I wanted to bring it back in house," he said, noting that DHA spent $14 million in usage fees last year. "It may be arrogance on my part, but I don't want to be held to others' restrictions and protests."

Other panel members said small companies' success in seeking new contracts hinges on their ability to talk specifics with agencies not only about their products but about how those products can be applied to agencies' specific projects.

Mitchell Ross, director of the Acquisition and Grants Office at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said small-business contractors "have to provide something of interest" in response to requests for information on projects, instead of supplying canned marketing materials that provide few if any specifics on how their firms' technology could be of use.

Other panelists -- including Kathleen Gregory, procurement analyst and small-business specialist at the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency -- agreed.

"Small businesses have to find something that we need," she said. They should not only say they have a better solution but show why that solution is better for the agency's project. "Everyone does IT. Match our mission."

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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