- A San Diego-based health IT company is suing the federal government for awarding a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) EHR contract to Cerner Corporation in June without a competitive bidding process.
CliniComp filed the bid protest in the Court of Federal Claims against VA earlier this month.
The health IT company has been providing EHR systems to the Department of Defense (DoD) and some VA healthcare facilities since 2009. In its issued complaint, CliniComp claimed VA violated the Competition in Contracting Act of 1978 by offering a sole-source contract to Cerner for its next gen EHR system.
According to CliniComp, VA secretary David Shulkin should have had sufficient time to conduct a competitive bidding process, and any perceived lack of time to do so is the fault of the VA.
The company provided to VA Acting Under Secretary Thomas J. Murphy’s testimony before Congress on June 22 to provide evidence for this point. In the testimony, VA informed lawmakers that contract negotiations would take six to eight months to complete with Cerner for a five- to ten-year contract.
“In the six or eight months to negotiate a sole source contract with Cerner, the VA could hold an accelerated full and open competition for the next generation [system],” the company stated. “Since the next generation system is high-risk and because multiple award development contracts are a proven means to reduce risks, the failure of Secretary Shulkin’s decision to consider prudent risk reduction renders the sole source decision unreliable.”
CliniComp stated it has earned 30 years of EHR management experience since 1983 and currently provides EHR systems for 61 DoD locations as well as more than 40 VA healthcare facilities.
Additionally, the company stated the government is required by law to conduct market research to find out if there are available product offerings that could meet its needs or could potentially be adapted to do so.
According to CliniComp, the federal agency would have known CliniComp runs the systems capable of meeting VA’s needs if VA had taken the time.
Additionally, the company stated Shulkin failed to use public funds wisely by awarding the EHR system modernization contract to Cerner. CliniComp also stated Shulkin demonstrated his failure to properly use funds when he stated he had no estimate for how much the Cerner contract will cost.
CliniComp seeks a mandated competitive bidding process from the court. The company has also urged the court to halt the execution of the Cerner contract while CliniComp’s complaint is still in the litigation process.
Neither the government nor Cerner will be harmed by an injunction, the company claimed. The federal government has issued no comment as it does not comment on pending litigation.
In a statement earlier this summer, David Shulkin outlined the specifics of a VA budget request for fiscal year 2018 and the department’s EHR modernization plans.
The budget prioritized the modernization of VA resources to improve the federal agency’s Choice Program, health IT infrastructure, foundational services, access to care and wait times, and suicide prevention initiatives.
Additionally, David Shulkin stated the federal agency intends to use the Cerner platform to complete the newest version of VistA — VistA 4 — over the next year.
However, Shulkin did not state the cost of implementing Cerner Millennium.