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Witness Testimony of Glenn D. Haggstrom,Executive Director, Office of Acquisitions, Logistics, and Construction, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Chairman Johnson, Ranking Member Donnelly, and distinguished members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) acquisition, logistics, and facilities management, operations.   It is a privilege for me to represent the many dedicated and hard-working professionals who provide mission-critical support everyday to ensure necessary contracts, logistics support, and facilities are available for some of our Nation’s most extraordinary citizens, Veterans.  I am accompanied here today by Mr. Jan Frye, VA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Acquisition and Logistics (OAL) and the Department’s Senior Procurement Executive, Mr. Robert Neary, Acting Director for Construction and Facilities Management (CFM) and Mr. Jim Sullivan, Director Office of Asset Enterprise Management.  

The Office of Acquisition, Logistics and Construction (OALC) was formed in October of 2008 to support the acquisition, logistics, and construction needs of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  These organizations were brought together to provide an enterprise approach to policy, process, and systems necessary to support these similar functions resident in each of the VA administrations.  The core responsibilities and an integrated acquisition model were affirmed by the Secretary on April 2010.  Together, these structural and process changes will enable the Department to serve our internal customers’ needs and ultimately our Veterans in a more efficient manner.  

OALC has six fundamental roles in the operation of the Department: achieve clear ownership and accountability of the VA contracting mission; gain control over acquisition and facilities management information; effectively manage the acquisition life cycle for contracting and construction; develop critical human capital resources; enhance information management to support corporate decision making; and finally, improve service delivery. 

With the focus of today’s hearing on VA’s electronic contract management system and the major construction program, I’d like to inform the committee on where we stand with regard to completing the recommendations identified by the OIG in each of the reports.  Currently, OALC has two VAOIG reports with 4 recommendations that remain open.  

As part of OALC’s continuous improvement process, the findings and recommendations of all OIG and GAO reports are captured, analyzed, tracked, and acted upon.

First, the “Audit of VA Electronic Contract Management (eCMS),” published in July of 2009 identified eight recommendations, five of which the OIG has closed.   Significant progress has been made through management actions to complete system user training with training teams available to the administrations upon their request, putting in place oversight programs at the administration and headquarters level to review eCMS usage, and the ability to perform real property leasing actions within the system is in use.  Three recommendations remain open.  

The recommendation to develop and implement a VA-wide eCMS policy and handbook to ensure consistent use and compliance with the system requirements is nearing completion.  We completed developing and providing an integrated, role-based matrix for using the individual eCMS User Guides in the December 2010 release of the system. The remaining action to complete policy revision will be completed by the end of this month.  The second open recommendation deals with the technical performance of the system.  In response to this we completed phase one of our technical refresh in January 2010 with phase two scheduled to be completed in June of this year.  The refresh includes server replacement, software changes to increase performance, and expanded data repository capacities.  Finally, the remaining recommendation was to determine the feasibility of integrating eCMS with the Integrated Funds Control Point Activity, Accounting and Procurement System to streamline the procurement process.   The integration software has been completed and tested and is scheduled for production roll out the first quarter of fiscal year 2012. 

The “Audit of VA’s Major Construction Contract Award and Administration Process,” identified four recommendations with one still remaining open.  Successfully closed were recommendations to establish effective mechanisms to monitor contract slippage and ensure the timely close out of major construction projects, and develop a staffing plan to ensure quality assurance responsibilities are met.  In the remaining open recommendation OALC is developing written quality assurance policies and procedures, and program performance measures addressing all QA Service areas of responsibilities.  Phase one of this recommendation was completed in December of 2010 and phase II will be completed in June of this year at which time we will recommend to the IG that the report be closed. 

Also, in 2009 the Government Accountability Office issued a report on VA major construction noting that VA generally met GAO best practices for a Federal major construction program in 10 of 12 areas.  From that report came two recommendations that VA fully supported and is in the process of implementing, first the use of an integrated master schedule and second conducting a risk analysis based on the project’s cost, schedule, and complexity.  Both of these recommendations will be completed this fiscal year at which time VA will have implemented all 12 of GAO’s best practices.  

As proud as we are of the many improvements in VA’s acquisition and facilities management operations, we recognize the need for continuous improvement and will work diligently to maintain the confidence of the American public and the Congress.

Mr. Chairman, we appreciate the opportunity to discuss VA’s acquisition, logistics, and construction operations with you.  My colleagues and I are available for your questions.