The RFP will award the contract to at least two separate companies, yet the two “separate” companies that won the business are “partners” that work together quite closely.
And one has repeatedly failed to meet performance requirements and been accused of overcharging the client – while the other does not have the infrastructure or experience or basic functions required to meet the RFP’s requirements.
That’s the summary of the Veteran’s Administration contracting process for veterans’ disability evaluations, one that is now on hold pending protests from other bidders. Yesterday Politico’s Ellen Mitchell reported that the contracting process is now on hold pending the resolution of the several protests, a delay that will cause further harm to veterans.
This is about the change the process for evaluating veterans for disability benefits, a highly-specialized service that long was the purview of the VA itself. However, long delays in evaluations led Congress to launch a pilot program using non-VA entities to deliver the service. The results were sufficiently positive to convince the powers-that-be to transition the evaluations to private entities.
And that’s where we are now – except the entities that “won” the vast majority of the business are either owned by or “partners” with Lockheed Martin – the giant defense contractor.
Despite a pretty shoddy performance record and demonstrated inability to meet the scheduling timeframes. So, the VA awarded most of the work to a company(s) that, to date, hasn’t been able to fix the problem that caused the VA to outsource evaluations in the first place.
After much work, three companies have protested the VA’s decision, and we’ll know more in a month or so. (I’ve done work for one – Veterans’ Evaluation Services.)
In the meantime, veterans who need to get their evaluations done so they can start getting benefits and getting on with their lives are stuck in limbo.
Yes, the VA has been hampered by political enemies. Yes, it has been damaged by the incredibly stupid sequester. But the failure of the contracting officials at the VA to consider their own standards when awarding this contract is a travesty, smacking of backroom deals for huge corporations.