Aaron Boyd, Federal Times 4:47 p.m. EDT May 2, 2016

Going forward, the Defense Health Agency will contract for its health IT needs solely through the General Services Administration, according to a DHA memo dated April 25.

The memo — signed by DHA Component Acquisition Executive Michael O’Bar — requires health agency procurement officers use GSA governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWACs) and schedules for “previously unsolicited and follow-on contracts/task orders” for all IT and health care systems, effective immediately.

DHA acquisition officials determined GSA vehicles were the best fit after reviewing guidance in the Department of Defense’s April 2015 memo on the Better Buying Power 3.0 initiative — which stresses contracting efficiency and strategic sourcing — and its own acquisition strategy, released December 2015.

DHA expects to solicit at least $1 billion through these vehicles over the next two years, the success of which will be monitored by the Oversight and Performance Management Team to see just how much the agency is saving through this approach.

Procurement officials will be able to ask for waivers from this mandate. However, to ensure there is enough data to track the success of this initiative, “DHA contracting officers must employ GSA’s suite of vehicles to the maximum extent practicable,” the memo states.

“Use of other than the prescribed GSA vehicles must be thoroughly documented in the acquisition strategy and clearly supported by market research,” it adds.

While DHA is not bound by mandates from the Office of Management and Budget, the latter has issued a number of similar directives for civilian agencies in recent months forcing them to use a set of established contract vehicles for new IT purchases.

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