The nationwide system of hospitals and clinics run by the Department of Veterans Affairs is an attractive potential client for companies providing a wide range of supplies and services, including pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and building maintenance. The VA makes purchases on national, regional, and local levels. “So no matter how large or small your business is, VA is a potential customer,” according to a VA website. As you might expect with a large government organization, the opportunities come with a formidable set of regulations and paperwork.
Time and Capital
The VA cautions that obtaining a long-term contract through the VA Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) program “may require a considerable investment of both time and capital resources.” The program states that vendors must have been in business for at least two years before submitting a proposal and have $150,000 in commercial sales or $25,000 in government sales annually. Other requirements include completion of the GSA “Pathway to Success” education seminar. Once a company decides it can meet all the requirements, the next step is to review the nine Schedule programs handling goods and services from medical equipment and supplies to professional and allied healthcare staffing services.
Each program contains numerous documents to fill out, and vendors must provide information on past performance and pricing. Review of the proposal generally takes 180 calendar days or more. After review, the FSS may set a meeting to discuss terms and pricing. After a Final Proposal Revision is accepted, the vendor is ready to do business. VA hospitals and clinics will place orders directly through qualified FSS contractors.
Other Centralized Programs
The VA FSS program is one of several that handle VA contracts under the National Acquisitions Center of the Office of Acquisitions and Logistics. The Denver Acquisition and Logistics Center is responsible for the holistic supply chain management for the VA National Hearing Aid Program. The National Contract Service supports acquisition of high-tech medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, direct-to-patient distribution, and medical, surgical and dental supplies and equipment. The Business Resource Service supplies outreach to service-disabled, veteran-owned, woman-owned, disadvantaged, or HUBZone small businesses.
In addition to purchases through central VA offices, each of the far-flung VA medical centers and clinics meet most of its needs through direct delivery to its local Acquisition and Materiel Management office. The VA encourages potential suppliers to contact the offices in their location to be included in the procurement process and provides a directory of local contact information. A VA facility can seek solicitations for supplies and services through the Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps), mailing lists, commercial advertising, or any other accepted means.