Key Issues > Duplication & Cost Savings > GAO's Action Tracker > VA Medical Supplies Procurement (2018-21)
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Health: VA Medical Supplies Procurement (2018-21)

The Department of Veterans Affairs could potentially save tens of millions of dollars when procuring medical and surgical supplies by better adhering to supply chain practices of leading hospitals and reducing inefficient duplication in its medical supply programs.

Action:

The Director of the Medical Surgical Prime Vendor (MSPV) program office should, with input from the Strategic Acquisition Center, develop, document, and communicate to stakeholders an overarching strategy for the program, including how the program office will prioritize categories of supplies for future phases of requirement development and contracting.

Progress:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) agreed with GAO's November 2017 recommendation. VA planned to implement a new MSPV program, called MSPV 2.0, by March 2020; however, this program has been delayed to at least October 2020. VA’s MSPV 2.0 program strategy includes involving clinicians in requirement development and it is currently engaging selected clinicians in this process for a set list of products, VA does not plan to resume focus on standardization until after MSPV 2.0 begins. Without an overarching strategy, VA risks further program delays and will continue to face challenges in meeting program goals.

Implementing Entity:

Department of Veterans Affairs

Action:

The Director of the Medical Surgical Prime Vendor (MSPV) program office should provide complete guidance to medical centers for matching equivalent supply items, which could include defining the roles of clinicians and local Clinical Product Review committees.

Progress:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) agreed with GAO's November 2017 recommendation. VA implemented a tool—the Medical Product Data Bank's eZSAVE application—to improve the matching of equivalent supply items. In November 2018, VA reported that it holds monthly meetings with selected clinical and logistics staff to obtain their input on the matching process. However, VA has not provided documentation showing how it has defined the role of clinical staff, including Clinical Product Review Committees, in this process. Without documentary support, GAO cannot assess the extent of the clinical staff role in the matching process. If the roles of clinicians are not clearly defined, it increases the risk of inconsistent involvement in the matching process.

Implementing Entity:

Department of Veterans Affairs

Action:

The Veterans Health Administration Chief Procurement and Logistics Officer should use input from national clinical program offices to prioritize its requirements development and standardization efforts to focus on supply categories that offer the best opportunity for standardization and cost avoidance.

Progress:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) agreed with GAO's November 2017 recommendation. In April 2019, VA began a pilot for Clinician-Driven Strategic Sourcing, including input from national clinical program offices.  In January 2020, VA officials reported that the second stage of this pilot was underway. VA planned to implement a new MSPV program, called MSPV 2.0, by March 2020. However, this program is delayed to at least October 2020. VA’s MSPV 2.0 program strategy includes involving clinicians in requirement development and standardization of medical supply purchases. While VA is currently engaging selected clinicians in its requirement development for a set list of products, VA does not plan to resume focus on standardization until after MSPV 2.0 begins. Until VA implements MSPV 2.0, and incorporates standardization into its requirement development, VA will not be able to achieve its goals of cost savings and improved clinical consistency.

Implementing Entity:

Department of Veterans Affairs

Action:

The Veterans Health Administration Chief Procurement and Logistics Officer should analyze data on items that are frequently purchased on an emergency basis, determine whether such items are suitable to be added to the Medical Surgical Prime Vendor (MSPV) formulary, and work with the Strategic Acquisition Center to make any suitable items available via MSPV.

Progress:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) agreed with GAO's November 2017 recommendation. VA reported that it added thousands of items to the MSPV formulary from June 2018 through December 2018, some of which had previously been purchased on an emergency basis. VA also reported in June 2018 that it is tracking items purchased on an emergency basis. However, VA has not provided documentation showing whether and how this analysis has informed its selection of which products to add to the formulary. Without documentary support, GAO cannot assess the extent to which items that VA added to the formulary were previously purchased on an emergency basis. If VA does not use analysis of emergency procurements to help inform which items should be added to the MSPV formulary, it will miss opportunities to avoid emergency procurements and increase efficiency.

Implementing Entity:

Department of Veterans Affairs

Action:

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should take steps to assess duplication between VA’s FSS and MSPV programs, to determine if this duplication is necessary or if efficiencies can be gained.

Progress:

Pending

Implementing Entity:

Department of Veterans Affairs
  • portrait of
    • Shelby S. Oakley
    • Director, Contracting and National Security Acquisitions
    • oakleys@gao.gov
    • 202-512-4841