DATE: June 7, 2001

SUBJECT: Veterans Affairs Acquisition Regulation (VAAR); Simplified Acquisition Procedures for Health-Care Resources

SOURCE: Federal Register, June 7, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 110, page 30659

AGENCIES: Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

ACTION: Proposed Rule

SYNOPSIS: VA is proposing to add VA Part 873, Simplified Acquisition Procedures for Health-Care Resources, to implement the Veterans' Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-262), which authorizes VA to adopt simplified acquisition procedures for health-care resources consisting of commercial services or the use of medical equipment or space.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The VAAR is Chapter 8 of Title 48 of the Code of Federal Regulations. It is available on the Internet at http://www.va.gov/oa&mm/vaar/.

DATES: Comments on this proposed rule should be submitted on or before August 6, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Director, Office of Regulations Management (02D), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW, Room 1154, Washington, DC 20420; fax: 202-273-9289; e-mail: OGCRegulations@mail.va.gov. Comments should indicate that they are submitted in response to "RIN 2900-AI71."

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dennis Foley, Office of the General Counsel, Professional Staff Group V, 202-273-9225; or Don Kaliher, Acquisition Resources Service, Office of Acquisition and Materiel Management, 202-273-8819.

SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION: Public Law 104-262 specifically authorizes VA to establish simplified procedures for the competitive procurement of health-care resources. Procurements under the simplified procedures may be conducted "without regard to any law or regulation that would otherwise require the use of competitive procedures." Therefore, the competitive procedures of any laws and regulations (including the FAR and VAAR and their underlying laws, such as the Competition in Contracting Act) would be superseded by the simplified procedures.

However, the simplified procedures are required to "permit all responsible sources, as appropriate, to submit a bid, proposal, or quotation (as appropriate) for the resources to be procured and provide for the consideration by the Department of bids, proposals, or quotations so submitted." VA interprets this provision as allowing VA "to limit competition to the extent it determines reasonable for the circumstances of each particular acquisition."

VA is proposing to establish a new VAAR Part 873 to implement its interpretation of the provisions of Public Law 104-262. Since the proposed simplified procedures in Part 873 would apply only to acquisitions for health-care resources, it will apply only to the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), one of the three administrations that comprise VA.

VA had published a proposed implementation on November 9, 1998, but it is withdrawing that proposed rule and publishing this replacement proposed rule because comments (particularly by the Small Business Administration (SBA)) convinced it "that a revised proposed rule is necessary to more fully address the potential impact of the proposed rule on small business."

The following are the key provisions of the proposed VAAR Part 873:

In addition to the proposed provisions mentioned above, VAAR provision 852.273-73, Evaluation -- Health-Care Resources, would be added. It would permit the contracting officer to provide "evaluation information" instead of evaluation factors. Also, the contracting officer would not be required to state how the evaluation information is weighted, but he or she would be required to state the relative importance of the evaluation information.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Panoptic Enterprises at 703-451-5953 or by e-mail to Panoptic@FedGovContracts.com.

Copyright 2001 by Panoptic Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.

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