Oh No: VA awards $3.7 million conference and exhibit contract

This may not go over so well on Capitol Hill.

The Veterans Affairs Department promised last November to rein in spending on conferences after its investigator general reported the VA spent $6 million on lavish Orlando confabs in 2011.

The investigation and the predictable outrage in Congress took down two VA officials, and you would think that by now the department would have learned its lessons and stick to its promise to cut back on conference spending.

But no, the VA Office of Informatics and Analytics on Wednesday awarded a $3.7 million contract to Titanium Cobra Solutions for Exhibit Support Services, which, among other things, involves storing and maintaining an inventory of giveaway tchotchkes and exhibit staff shirts.

The VA Office of Informatics and Analytics owns 20’x20’ and 10’x10’ exhibits that are used at various nationwide conferences throughout the year to showcase information technology and health care products and to demonstrate various stages of a patient’s visit at a VA Medical Center.

The larger one houses 42” plasma displays in quadrants, with each fed by a laptop computer running VA health care applications. The contract calls for Titanium to warehouse the exhibits, but there’s a lot more to this exhibit support services thing, folks.

Titanium will also provide conference, events and tradeshow planning services. This includes setting up and dismantling exhibits, cleaning  the booths and shirts, providing audio-visual support, and “conceptualizing, designing, and producing exhibits and their accompanying materials.”

Since $3.7 million could buy a McMansion in the Washington area, I have a feeling that this latest conference expenditure will not go over very well on Capitol Hill.