The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) manages nine healthcare related ‘schedules,’ groups of umbrella contracts used to order medical supplies and services, under the Federal Supply Schedules (FSS) program. These schedules allow VA medical centers to more easily obtain goods and services to support veterans.

The VA requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to produce a report focusing on the following:

  • Program challenges.
  • The timeliness of contract awards.
  • The extent to which the schedules and the Medical Surgical Prime Vendor-Next Generation (MSPV-NG) program provide overlapping or duplicative offerings.

In addition to analyzing the requested issues, the report also contains a series of corrective recommendations to which the VA has largely agreed.

One of the challenges identified were problems with the VA’s vendor sales data practices. Although vendor submitted sales reports are sufficient to describe general trends, such as whether spending is increasing or staying constant, the VA lacks controls to ensure that sales data is complete. This data incompleteness is problematic because the sales data is used to calculate the fees used to finance the schedules. As a result, the GAO recommended that the VA implement controls to ensure that vendors submit complete sales data.

The report also identified significant timeliness issues in the FSS program. Between 2014 and 2018, only a quarter of non-pharmaceutical FSS contracts were awarded within the target time of 180 days. The GAO recommended that the VA assess the appropriateness of timeliness goals, and identify and address any barriers to achieving them.

Finally, the GAO also determined that the current relationship between the FSS and MSPV-NG programs may create serious inefficiencies. The two programs feature many similar or identical items, yet contracting staff manage contracts for the provision of these supplies independently. The report recommended that the VA assess any duplications and whether it is possible to reduce duplication and improve efficiency.

For more information on this report, or on the VA FSS program, please contact the author or any member of our Government Contracts team.