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24 Friday, Oct 2014

The most-recent blog posts appear first. For past posts, click on the desired category in the column on the right.

Winning a VA Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology Next Generation (T4NG) Contract

October 23, 2014

usa flagThe $22.3B Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology (T4) Next Generation (NG) contract will be one of the most hotly competed programs this year.  Given the high dollar value and the different award categories, the VA will likely receive well over 100 proposals.  The incumbents will be wondering which competitors have figured out an ingenious solution to provide higher value at lower cost. 

The value of having a T4 contract rose considerably when Robert McDonald took over as Secretary of the Veteran’s Administration (VA).  His immense experience as an industry “turnaround specialist” and public recognition of the deep needs at VA combine to enhance the future of this program.  

There is reason to hope that the final solicitation will be released on schedule in November 2014.  So far, program managers have been good about meeting schedule in accordance with the T4NG solicitation timeline in the original TAC APBI on June 11, 2014:  RFI in July, Industry Day in October.  Some industry observers predict a slip to December.

T4NG Industry Day

Information provided at the online Industry Day of October 6, 2014 included the following:

  • Twenty awards are anticipated
  1. 4 SDVOSB awards
  2. 4 VOSB awards (NOTE: an SDVOSB qualifies as a VOSB)
  3. 4 WOSB or HUBZone awards
  4. 8 Full and Open (8 potential large business awards)
  • Term of the contract is 5 years with a one five year option
  • Veterans’ employment is an evaluation factor
  • New flexible on-ramp and off-ramp rules and guidance will be implemented

The “Veteran’s Employment Factor” is important in the evaluation.  This factor relates to the extent to which the prime bidder has a “veteran-rich workforce.”  It will be considered as slightly less important than the Past Performance Factor which is slightly less important than the Technical Factor.  This weighs Veteran’s Employment as third for non-price factors.

The procurement strategy announced at the Industry Day leaves large business the loser.  With a maximum of only eight full and open slots, some large businesses will probably want to re-evaluate their position and consider teaming with small business.

Insight into Winning a T4NG Contract

According to G2Xchange Health industry leaders, the VA approach to source, evaluate, score and rank both large and small integrators will likely be based on the following: 

  • Ability to attract key partners for the T4NG bid – e.g.,  IT health innovators
  • Commercial Healthcare IT expertise with a focus on clinical
  • Leadership team and key hires
  • Federal Healthcare IT expertise
  • Commitment shown to hiring Veterans        
  • Breadth and depth of work at VA today
  • Commitment shown to working at VA and with Veterans
  • Experience winning and managing IDIQ contracts

Now that the spotlight is on the VA, they will want contractors with solid capabilities to avoid the risk of an embarrassment like the Affordable Care website that didn’t work.

Bidder’s progress at this time should be close to a fully executed capture strategy, with most teammates booked, including a significant number of small businesses, particularly SDVOSB’s and VOSB’s if you are either a large or small business.  Significant work on draft writing should be accomplished, particularly that related to “Win Theming” and “Executive Summary” development.

OCI helped one of the most successful contractors on the current T4 program to prepare their winning proposal.

Experienced Proposal Talent Available for Air Force Contract Field Team Maintenance (CFT) Program

October 23, 2014

OCI is offering proposal consultant talent with previous experience in the CFT program.  The Air Force is expected to release the final solicitation for the $11.4 B Contract Field Team Maintenance (CFT) program imminently.  Experienced talent is scarce. Please reach out to John Cook at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  to discuss how we can support your CFT proposal response.

How 2016 Sequestration Hits Procurement

Alan Chvotkin HeadshotOctober 23, 2014

Q&A with Alan Chvotkin, EVP, Professional Services Council                 

Question:  If the Sequestration of 2016 takes effect on Oct 1, 2015, what will the net effect on discretionary spending be?

Answer:  As we saw from the sequestration action last time, there will be two significant impacts. The first will be the mandated reduction in discretionary spending in EVERY budget account. Depending on the timing of the implementation, that could be a small amount if done early in the fiscal year or a larger amount if delayed past the start of the fiscal year. But more importantly than the dollar level will be the short term uncertainty on programs -- and on program releases -- as agencies determine how best to execute the reductions. The disruption to the procurement cycle will be unquestionable but the magnitude will be varied across agencies and programs. 

Rapid Growth in Healthcare IT Continues

From our partners, Aronson Capital Partners

Healthcare IT remains as one of the largest and fastest growing segments of government spending, with both civilian and military agencies issuing contract vehicles and task orders in an effort to structure and stabilize IT systems. Due to an expanding utilization of the cloud and accelerated digitization of records, federal agencies are struggling to meet requirements set by the federal government such as the Managing Government Records Directive.HealthcareIT

Healthcare Motivations

The rapid growth of healthcare IT in the federal budget is being driven by requirements for the improvement of patient care; reduction of fraud, waste and abuse; and overall cost efficiencies through more efficient processes. The digitization of patient records allows doctors and medical professionals to utilize information in order to improve patient treatment. Along with individual treatment, record management creates massive amounts of data that medical professionals can use to analyze healthcare trends.

According to OMB’s “Improper Payments Overview,” federal agencies reported an improper payment rate of 3.5% in 2013. This resulted in approximately $106 billion of incremental costs. Medicare is one of the worst offenders in this group with improper payments of almost $50 billion, while Medicaid generated another $14.4 billion of losses. Reconciliation of these losses could finance nearly all of the major Healthcare IT procurement spending.  The federal government therefore has made it an urgent priority to upgrade the inefficient systems in efforts to reign in the improper payments.

Lastly, next generation healthcare technologies and applications developed by the commercial sector are gaining traction by federal healthcare agencies. Research has shown that the cost of traditional billing is $1.58 per claim opposed to $0.85 for electronic billing. Improved cost efficiency will not only make federal healthcare programs more affordable for the government, but can make healthcare more affordable to the population.

M&A in the Federal Healthcare IT Market

Acquisitions of federal healthcare IT targets have accounted for 7% of all government services transactions in the last 12 months. On the supply side, there are a limited number of targets with F&O revenue streams, since most healthcare oriented agencies rely heavily on preferential awards. On the demand side, both traditional Department of Defense firms as well as Federal Civilian focused buyers are targeting healthcare IT acquisitions. The below exhibit summarizes examples of traditionally focused DoD firms that have acquired healthcare IT firms in efforts to diversify away from declining defense budgets and gain exposure to this more rapidly growing market.

Traditionally DoD Focused Healthcare IT Acquirers

pic-1-1024x132

Meanwhile, large businesses with an existing Federal Civilian presence also look for healthcare IT acquisition targets that either provide a new capability, contract vehicle, or customer access, as summarized below:

Traditionally Federal Civilian IT Acquirers

pic-2-1024x132

M&A Focus Key Contract Vehicles

Nearly all of the healthcare IT acquisitions have involved targets with a presence on a key contract vehicle. For example, 3 of the 9 small businesses on the $12 billion Veterans Affairs’ T4 IDIQ contract have been acquired by buyers seeking an entrance into the VA’s IT budget, including funding for VistA. The Veterans health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) houses over 2.5 million gigabytes of data around medical and pharmaceutical patient encounters, and makes it available for public analysis. Upon the eventual recompete of the VA T4 contract in 2016, we expect similar acquisition activity by acquirers that are not successful in the initial award. pic-3-e1411504600587

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Enterprise Systems Development (ESD) program was awarded in 2007pic 3 and will provide up to $4 billion for the design, development, testing, maintenance and other IT work intended to advance current data systems. Eight of the nine small businesses with the CMS ESD contract have been acquired.

There are similar examples of buyers making acquisitions to gain access to the key HCIT contract vehicles at other agencies, including NIH, CDC, and DHA.

Healthcare IT M&A Outlook

We expect buyers to continue to target healthcare IT acquisitions over the next 24 months. Despite rapid growth in healthcare IT, most public acquirers still derive less than 20% of their IT services revenues from healthcare agencies, and often have significant capability and customer gaps in this market.

In addition, there are a number of private equity backed acquirers focused on the healthcare IT space that are effectively executing on roll up strategies to accelerate growth, creating another segment of acquirers with ample access to capital. The main hurdle will continue to be the concentration of preferential awards amongst small business targets, and the lack of well positioned targets that are willing to exit in light of the optimistic outlook for this sector.

Orginal article can be found here: http://blogs.aronsonllc.com/aronsoncapitalpartners/rapid-growth-healthcare-continues/ 

About Aronson Capital Partners

Aronson Capital Partners is a leading M&A advisor to middle-market defense and government technology solutions providers. ACP provides a full range of M&A and corporate finance advisory services to enable their clients to achieve their growth and liquidity objectives. With an exclusive focus on the Government Services and Technology sector, ACP is able to provide clients with a unique industry perspective and access to longstanding relationships with the most active strategic buyers.

OCI Hiring for a Sales/Business Development Manager

Position:  Sales / Business Development Manager
 
Focus is on selling proposal consulting services to government contractors.   
 
PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES: 
The role will involve supporting Executive Leadership on client acquisition and retention. Responsibilities include:
• Identification and qualification of new accounts that require Proposal Support Services and retention of existing accounts.
• Manage a monthly and yearly quota based on prior year’s sales with existing clients.
• Warm leads will be provided since there is a successful “inbound” sales model in place, but candidate must have experience in developing, closing and retaining new clients.
 
QUALIFICATIONS:  
• Successful record of lead generation, prospect development, and closing deals
• Presents a polished and professional image/persona.
• Passion for meeting people, giving strategic presentations on the company’s core business to large and small groups
• Good character and personality; multi-tasker, self starter, and  team player
• Strong consulting/advisory and customer relationship management skills.
• Ability to think strategically, and actively participate with client, management and other staff.
• Full lifecycle experience including sourcing, screening, interviewing, offer negotiations and closing of candidates for temporary staffing roles a plus.
• Must be a US Citizen.
• Ability to make initial outside sales calls in person to senior-level and executive prospects, present service offerings, and answer questions from prospects.
• Knowledge of the proposal process and capability / judgment / understanding to effectively staff all standard proposal team positions.
• Professional judgment needed to interview and evaluate candidates for proposal consultant assignments.
• Capability to negotiate the financial rates and terms for assignments with templates
• Capability to handle / solve proposal project problems such as replacement / counseling of consultant personnel, customer complaints, misunderstandings, contract disputes, etc.
 
Ideal candidate would have:
 
1. Capability to read a solicitation and prepare an estimate of skills / hours / dollars for a whole proposal / complex assignment.
2. Capability to prepare a statement of work and appropriate contract clauses / disclaimers for a whole proposal / complex assignment assisted by given templates.
 
EXPERIENCE & EDUCATION
• 10 years experience in Federal Contractor Market with a minimum of 5 years experience in sales or Business Development with emphasis on Federal Contractor market. 
• 4-year college degree. 
WORK ENVIRONMENT:  Company provides excellent work environment and personnel policies.  Occasional travel.  In Reston, Virginia adjacent to the Silver Line Metro Station 
 
COMPENSATION:  $75-90,0000 plus commission
 
CANDIDATES:  Submit your resume by email to Trina Holland at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with Subject Line – Sales / Business Development Manager.
 

Name Change for Defense Systems Integration Design Development Operation and Maintenance Support (D/SIDDOMS IV) Contract

D/SIDDOMS IV Changes to DHITS Generation I, Contract Has $20 Billion Cap

October 6, 2014

armoured ambulanceThe name of the D/SIDDOMS IV program was recently changed to Defense Health Information Technology Services Generation I (DHITS Generation I). The Department of Defense (DOD), Office of the Secretary of Defense, Defense Health Agency (DHA) is continuing its Information Technology support to the TRICARE program with another competition for an IDIQ contract with a base performance period of ten years and a $20 billion cap.  DHA operates TRICARE as the worldwide, integrated system for delivery of health care services to DOD beneficiaries during peacetime and wartime.

The Military Health System (MHS) provides medical support for military deployments and peacetime support to members of the Armed Forces and their families. The mission of the MHS is to provide and to maintain readiness, and to provide healthcare services and support to members of the Armed Forces during military operations.  TRICARE provides health services for military members and their families worldwide, including all three military services. 

Technical Areas Addressed by DHITS Generation I (formerly known as D/SIDDOMS IV)

DHITS Generation I is the fourth version of this IDIQ and providing tasking in Biomedical Research Health Sciences; CIO Support; Imaging; Outsourcing; IT Operations and Maintenance; Integration Services; Critical Infrastructure Protection and Information Assurance; Digital Government; Enterprise Resource Planning; and Software Development in support of the MHS.   A distinguishing factor of this solicitation is that companies priming this contract should have experience in military health services; including the ability within their companies or on their team; to conduct, collect data, and report on biomedical research programs.

Key History and Dates

D/SIDDOMS III had a spend total of $2.7 billion, beginning in 2004, over the ten-year period of execution.  A majority of that spend occurred during peak war years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now in a period of contraction as warfighters exit the service and enter the Veterans Administration (VA) health care system.  And, with the reduction of military budgets, the spend rate should be impacted by a savings program that was featured during the first of two Industry Day’s held on July 14, 2014.  Nevertheless, this program is one of the major government health care opportunities for information system companies with the right profile.  The second Industry Day is scheduled for January 20, 2015 and the solicitation is expected out on March 22, 2015.  A second RFP draft is expected to be released shortly after the Industry Day with the award anticipated in September 2015.

Contractors who plan to bid DHITS Generation I should be developing a team that can support and cover all of the ten task order areas. 

What should be included in unsolicited proposals?

project managementIn olden, golden days if a Federal contractor wanted to get the attention of the acquisition professional they would write an elaborate and unsolicited proposal. Even when accepted there was always a chance that the government may not do anything with the whitepaper but by the FAR Subpart 15.6 definition they must be "innovative and unique". Sometimes these new and innovated ideas found their way into an RFP or if you were really lucky a Sole Source Proof of Concept Contract no matter the cost suggested in the whitepaper.

With Frank Kendall’s Better Buying Power 3.0 announced on 09/19/14 there is shift from "innovative and unique" to a continued emphasis on "cost consciousness" and "understanding and controlling cost as a fundamental definition of success".

The DOD mandate is clear:

  • Achieve affordable programs
  • Incentivize Productivity in Industry and Government
  • Incentivize Innovation in Industry and Government
  • Promote Effective Competition
  • Improve Tradecraft in the Acquisition of Services
  • Eliminate Unproductive processes and Bureaucracy
  • Improve the Professionalism of the Total Acquisition Workforce

For many, this continuation of "do more with less" mentality sounds good on paper, but for anyone in the DC metro area who have owned a home for 15 years or more, the ability to purchase the same level of housing is impossible to achieve even with our real estate bubble. Tangible things have a way of costing more in the future than they did the past.

Mr. Kendall’s task is to find a way to "technical excellence" with another round of sequestration looming in 2016.  

Dr. Kendall invites all to join the conversation at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . BBP resource materials can be found at bbp.dau.mil.

Good luck with being "innovative and cost conscious" at the same time. My sense is that DoD may need to learn to "do less with less”.

clickhere

NOAA Pro-Tech Update

ProtechIndustry is still waiting for the long-expected release of the $3 billion Pro-Tech solicitation by NOAA. The September release date on the program web site very likely will be missed. This major vehicle will allow NOAA to strategically source services in the core areas of ocean, satellites, fisheries, meteorological, and enterprise operations. The vast range of potential tasks will require an army of subcontractors. There has been widespread skepticism that NOAA can successfully execute its strategy of procuring all services from small businesses. In areas such as satellites, for example, there are challenges that would normally require a large business solution. NOAA has built a reputation for providing world-class science, and research and public access especially via its weather-related products. Rumor has it that NOAA may be at an impass with main Commerce officials who would like to see a complete small business set aside program rather than a dual track small and large business vehicle.

Update: VA Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology Next Generation (T4NG)

September 24, 2014

Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology Next Generation (T4NG) Procurement Update:  Requirements have been published within the Draft PWS, sources sought, released in late July, and with capability and prior experience statements due on August 28, 2014.  Extensive analysis and market research followed with the VA release of the Virtual Office of Acquisition (AOC) and the Proposal Dashboard, tools for contractor submission. Also, carefully developed analyses of submitted RFIs by the VA, and shared within Advanced Planning Briefing to Industry (APBI) publications, including details on:

  • Product Development – The Big Picture: Dedication, Discipline, Delivery
  • Architecture, Strategy and Design - End-To-End Process Re-Engineering
  • Outpatient Medical Scheduling -  Evolution/Importance of health care
  • Service Delivery & Engineering - System Sustainment, Cost Containment
  • Source Selection - Pre-Award road-map and Evaluation Factors
  • Enhancing Small Business Participation – Meeting VA Goals
  • Budget Execution – Strategic Direction & Top Priorities

Upcoming in October, VA will call for Industry-Day, with anticipated One-on-One collaboration, hosted by VHA and OI&T.  Their goal is the technical demonstration of COTS scheduling application products.  This will be followed by the final solicitation RFP release, Q&A and proposal submission, due likely in November.  Evaluation will be for 12 months, with expected awards in November, 2015.  

What is Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology Next Generation (T4NG) ? 

VA desires solutions in support of information technology (IT), health IT, and telecommunications.  T4NG is the overarching IT Technical services contract and includes incidental hardware and software for customer requirements across the entire spectrum of existing and future technical environments.  This includes program management and strategy planning, systems/software engineering, enterprise network, cyber security, operation and maintenance and IT facility support.  Key IT services listed within the Draft PWS are outlined as follows:

  •   technical support
  •   program management
  •   services management
  •   strategy planning
  •   systems/software engineering
  •   design and development
  •   integration
  •   implementation support
  •   architecture development
  •    studies and analysis
  •   test and evaluation
  •   modelling and simulation
  •   data migration
  •   training
  •   enterprise network engineering
  •   cyber security
  •   operation and maintenance

Healthcare Priority

Even though there are no specific healthcare identified Key IT services, healthcare oriented Matthew Ginty (VA DoD Health Information Sharing Directorate) has been identified as the lead Contract Specialist. This is in light of recent VA publicity concerning deficiencies from the digital waiting list to woefully inadequate claims processing and appointment scheduling, and culminating with the appointment of Secretary Robert McDonald.  We anticipate hot-buttons for this solicitation effort to include strong and capable HealthCare expertise including the replacement of system for private healthcare claims, electronic medical records improvements, electronic notifications, and telemedicine improvements.  Significant and numerous references to Health-IT are listed in the following sections of the Draft PWS:

  •   1.0          Scope
  •   3.5        Place   of Performance
  •   3.6.4     Connectivity
  •   3.8        Enterprise   and IT Framework
  •   4.2.1     Strategy   and Planning
  •   4.2.5     Studies   and Analyses
  •   4.3.1     Design   and Development
  •   4.3.4     Enterprise   Application/Services
  •   4.3.7     Human-Computer   Interaction
  •   4.3.10   Informatics   Services
  •   4.4        Software   Tech Demo/Transition
  •   4.6.2.2  Voice   Systems
  •   6.3        Facility/Resource   Provisions

Noted are three of the four top priorities, outlined within the Budget Execution EPBI, include eliminating claims backlog, expanding access to benefits and services, and modernizing VA Healthcare including VistA Evolution.  This is in conjunction with the main priority of improving information security.  Also, one of the strategic directions is healthcare oriented, as to enhance VA’s ability to provide the highest quality medical care to Veterans. 

Proposal Status for Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology Next Generation (T4NG)

Interested contractors should have well-developed capture strategy, covering healthcare associated capabilities in conjunction with their IT and telecommunications expertise.  We recommend the development of competent technical solutions for demonstrating COTS appointment scheduling and claims processing application products.  Furthermore, teaming should focus heavily on SDVOSBs and other small business entities.   These should include top-notch veteran-owned firms, based upon both business expertise and past performance, for best position to win a prime contract position. 

VA Medical Appointment Scheduling System (MASS)

September 24, 2014VA MASS

The Department of Veteran Affairs, Office of Information & Technology (OI&T) Product Development (PD) on behalf of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has a requirement for a Medical Appointment Scheduling System (MASS). This procurement comes in light of recent scrutiny by the Congressional VA Oversight Committee, the newly appointed Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, and issues exposed at Phoenix and other VA Medical Centers. As VA has spent over $167 million on a failed VA Replacement Scheduling project, this opportunity has high visibility. There will be much talk on this procurement on Capitol Hill, assuring that VA’s path is consistent with congressional direction. Medical Appointmentt Scheduling System (MASS) may be further impacted this year, as legislation recently passed by Congress (signed by the President) calls on a technology task force to review scheduling systems approach and make recommendations.


We are well into the procurement: Industry-Day having been completed in June, and Q&A completed in July. A draft SOW was released on September 17. According to a VA Press, the Solicitation RFP is anticipated to be released on a full and open basis during September 2014 with Proposals anticipated due 30 days following the Solicitation release, and award made prior to the end of CY2014.


Medical Appointment Scheduling Problem

In FY-2010 approximately 8.4 million of the 23.1 million living veterans in the nation were enrolled in the VA health care system. VHA’s 50,000 users schedule over 85 million appointments a year for this Veteran population. Modernization of the system across the enterprise is required in order to meet ambulatory and patient appointment needs of VHA today. In the current state, clinic grids are inflexible, productivity is not measurable, there is no method for scheduling resources (staff, rooms, equipment) and there are no links between scheduled appointments and ancillary appointments, i.e., lab and radiology. These broken links cause unnecessary bookings and rebooking as well as increased travel costs and patient dissatisfaction with VHA scheduling practices.

Resource-Centric Scheduling

Scheduling application “Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA)” lacks resource-centric scheduling, capacity planning and flexibility to schedule for evolving care delivery. Furthermore VA has just recently adopted an agile environment, and VA’s revamp of VistA will be the biggest project yet attempted under its agile development process. As there will be significant oversight and time demands placed on the project by Congress, implementation of a commercially off-the-shelf scheduling product, replacing VistA will be a challenge. To meet these needs and expectations, this enterprise scheduling business solution must provide consistent, seamless, timely and high-quality scheduling interactions for patients, providers and VHA scheduling oversight staff.

Medical Appointment Scheduling System (MASS) Demonstration Phase

Solicitation intelligence gathered indicates: VA will be requiring a full-blown proof-of-concept demonstration prior to award. This entails a two-phased evaluation period: The first phase will involve a technical evaluation of each proposal; the second phase will require actual demonstration, where the contractor/vendor demonstrates the capabilities of the system so that VA can actually see a working model. We understand that VA plans to conduct technical evaluations and complete demonstrations by mid-December, just weeks prior to awarding the contract. 

Medical Appointment Scheduling System (MASS) Proposal Status

Contractors who plan to bid VA Medical Appointment Scheduling System (MASS) should be concluding their Capture phase of intelligence gathering on client and competition. Effective contractors will have already developed their teams, outlined WIN-Strategy and Ghosting themes, have their technical solution and their proof-of-concept process in place, and make preparations for the final push – the proposal phase.

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