VA farmed out claims system work to controversial Navy organization

Inspector general criticized SPAWAR Atlantic for previous IT work at the department.

The Veterans Affairs Department has paid the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic $105 million to help develop its next-generation disability claims processing system since 2010, despite two internal watchdog reports in 2009 that blasted previous work done by the Charleston, S.C.-based organization for VA.

This amounts to roughly 21 percent of the total $491 million budget for the Veterans Benefit Management System planned for nationwide deployment this year.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki views VBMS as the key to eliminating the claims backlog by 2015. The department ended the year with 900,121 backlogged claims, 608,365 of which -- 68 percent -- had been stuck in the system more than 125 days.

VA Chief Information Officer Roger Baker said in response to an email from Nextgov that SPAWAR Atlantic provides engineering, agile development, operations, help desk, project management office support and testing for VBMS. He said this is part of an acquisition strategy that includes interagency partners as well as VA contractors in direct support to develop and integrate multiple components included in VBMS.

He said SPAWAR Atlantic is “expected to remain a vital part of the VBMS team” based on the organization’s “strong performance” on the program as well as its previous strong performance on the post 9/11 GI Bill education benefit program.

Baker declined to detail the fees VA has paid SPAWAR Atlantic for its work on VBMS. The organization operates under a working capital fund much like a business. In a statement, Baker said SPAWAR Atlantic “is paid for its direct government labor at fixed rates [plus] costs associated with materials, travel, etc.”  

The department’s inspector general, in a June 2009 report on an interagency agreement VA signed with SPAWAR Atlantic in 2007, described program management fees that run between 10 and 13 percent.

VA personnel never questioned the 10 percent fee, the IG said, nor was there a decrease in the rate charged by SPAWAR when its VA work jumped from $2.5 million to $66 million. “Given the fact of the substantial increase in work ordered by VA, we would expect that some economies of scale would be achieved to decrease the [program management] fee,” the report said.

In a follow-on August 2009 report on engineering work SPAWAR Atlantic was commissioned to do on a replacement for a botched patient scheduling application, the IG said, “We do not believe this to be a viable solution because our review of the SPAWAR contract found that most of the work was being performed by contractors, not SPAWAR government employees.”

In at least one instance on the VBMS program VA may have been hit with an additional contract fee due to the way SPAWAR Atlantic subcontracted work to L3 Communications Inc. VA has deployed VBMS in phases or small chunks at regional offices. In May 2012, SPAWAR awarded the company a contract for the final phase of work through a task order on the Defense Information Systems Agency’s umbrella Encore II information technology contract. DISA usually charges a 1.25 percent fee for task orders executed on its contracts.

Baker said L3 is the prime contractor supporting SPAWAR Atlantic on the VBMS program “and its subcontractors provide key support to include architecture design, requirements development, agile software development, testing support, and production operations support of the development, testing and operations environments.” He did not provide the value of the L3 contract.

SPAWAR Atlantic is an economic engine in South Carolina, and generated $3.3 billion for the state in 2011, according to a November 2012 report on military spending in the state by the South Carolina Department of Commerce.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has been a strong supporter of SPAWAR Atlantic. Graham served for years on the Senate VA Committee until 2011, when he took a post on the Appropriations Committee. The command employs 3,673 people directly and its work supported another 23,819 jobs in the state.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.