Vendor offers to settle VA legal complaint
CliniComp, a San Diego-based electronic health record vendor, says it will drop a legal complaint against the Department of Veterans Affairs if it gets the opportunity to demonstrate that its commercial product is capable of meeting VA EHR requirements.
The company had charged that the VA’s decision to award a no-bid contract to Cerner to replace the agency’s legacy Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) had violated the Competition in Contracting Act of 1978 and federal acquisition regulations.
However, last month, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims dismissed a legal complaint from CliniComp aimed at preventing the VA from awarding a sole-source contract to Cerner.
VA Secretary David Shulkin is intent on awarding a contract to Cerner this month to replace VistA and to ultimately create a single common EHR system with the Department of Defense, using a shared Cerner Millennium platform.
“As the prime contractor and EHR software developer, Cerner is best positioned to not only lead software implementation, but also to conduct a robust review of VA clinical processes for quality improvement and business transformation,” wrote Shulkin in a June 1 Determination & Findings document. “Moreover, since the core software has been developed and can be modified by Cerner, and DoD’s data is hosted by Cerner, by contracting directly with Cerner, VA will avoid additional cost and inefficiencies by not having a third party as the prime contractor.”
Nonetheless, Jerome Gabig, legal counsel for CliniComp, on November 13 submitted a written offer of settlement to the Department of Justice. Under the settlement agreement, the VA would engage the GSA’s Federal Systems Integration and Management Center to perform a benchmark test to ascertain if CliniComp’s existing EHR software meets or exceeds VA-DoD interoperability requirements.
“If, after making a bona fide assessment of CliniComp’s commercial product, the Government information technology experts do not find merit to CliniComp’s solution being cheaper, faster and better, the matter will be over—no more litigation,” wrote Gabig to DOJ.
“As has been the case from the start, all CliniComp has been asking for is a chance to compete,” said CliniComp’s Chairman and CEO Chris Haudenschild in a written statement. “With this step, we’re asking for a free-to-taxpayers chance to prove our capabilities to the government, putting it in the hands of the non-partisan GSA to judge our technology and ultimately give us the opportunity to showcase what we know can be delivered cheaper, faster and better than the alternative.”
VA officials declined to comment and instead referred questions regarding CliniComp to the Department of Justice. DOJ did not immediately respond to a query.