Veterans Affairs launches $14B health care transformation recompete / Tetra Images

The final solicitation is now live for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses to get their bids in order, and just as importantly form their teams.

Against a backdrop of high anticipation, the Veterans Affairs Department is now ready for industry to start working on and turning in bids for the recompete of its go-to health care modernization contract vehicle.

Proposals for the potential 10-year, $14 billion Integrated Healthcare Transformation 2.0 vehicle are due April 3. The Veterans Health Administration is also requiring what it calls "proposal intentions" by 12 p.m. Eastern time on March 27, VHA said in its Monday notice to release the final solicitation.

Those mandatory statements of intent are for the first phase in what will be a two-step advisory downselect process that will eventually result in six awards to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.

VHA's emphasis on teaming in IHT 2.0 remains the same, in that the SDVOSB primes will wear the label of VITAL -- Veteran Integrated Team Agile Lead.

All of the teams are exclusive, in that partners and subcontractors are specific to only one of the teams. Partners and subcontractors will be called VIT Eligible Partners.

The team leads, or VITALs, and their partners will center the contract work around four primary functional categories to include health system transformation and innovation, implementation and operations support, health care business enabling services, and health informatics.

As for the downselect process, the first phase one will see VHA evaluate proposals and advise bidders on their chances of advancing to the next round. But companies that are told they are not likely to continue on are free to take their chances in phase two.

VHA is particularly going to look at the aspiring VITAL's eligibility, experience in the contract's key capability areas, experience in navigating complex work with large organizations, experience in health care integration, and experience in large-scale contract management.

The agency will also evaluate who the team lead is proposing as their teammates and namely what those partners have to offer in the health informatics category.

Companies that decide they want to continue onto the second phase will have to give another batch of proposal intentions to be eligible for that round. VHA will establish a deadline for phase two proposal intention statements when it issues an amendment to announce when that step is effectively underway.

Evaluations for phase two will concentrate on the team's written response that should detail full mission capability. Those responses should include information on technical demonstrations, robustness, VITAL services, key personnel, two sample task orders to show capability and price.

VHA says that all of the non-price factors when added up are "significantly more important" than price, which means that the agency could determine that a price premium is warranted.

Work will take place over an initial five-year base period followed by a five-year option period, the latter of which will be preceded by the VITALs going through a recertification process to ensure they are indeed SDVOSBs.

For VITALs that are joint ventures, they will not be eligible to continue onto the option period if the SDVOSB partner no longer qualifies as a small business. But changes to a protégé’s size status during the base period will not affect their JV's eligibility to continue.

The current IHT contract was awarded to six companies in 2020 with March 31, 2030, as the last date to order. VHA has obligated 43% of the current $1.5 billion ceiling, or $637 million, according to GovTribe data.

Aptive, Trilogy Federal and Titan Alpha are the top three recipients of task order obligations and collectively have booked the majority of that spend at around 91%.