VA Opens Bids on Revamping its Main Website

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VA wants to improve its web presence in a big way.

The Veterans Affairs Department on Wednesday opened bidding on a contract to build a platform for managing its primary website, part of a massive overhaul of its online presence.

Officials are accepting proposals to stand up a new content management system for VA.gov, which will eventually become a one-stop shop where vets can apply for benefits and access all other agency services under the VA Digital Modernization initiative.

The first phase of the modernization effort is already well underway—VA spent the last year integrating existing web platforms into the main site and is working with its various components to bring more online services under the VA.gov umbrella. The new contract covers phase two, which entails restructuring the site, optimizing search functions and consolidating hundreds of thousands of duplicative or outdated content pages from existing websites.

The initial contract will run six months, with two additional six-month option periods. A previous draft said the deal would run up to two years.

Responses are due Aug. 22.

Today, VA websites are organized in a similar way to the agency itself—veterans need to seek out different websites for benefits, health care, cemetery services and other products. In effect, that means vets need to understand the agency’s bureaucratic structure to access its services.

By consolidating those domains into a single site, officials aim to make it easier for veterans to find the information they’re looking for and give them access to “a digital experience on par with the private sector,” they said in the request for proposal.

After building the new content management system, vendors will be responsible for migrating existing content on VA.gov into the new framework, according to the RFP. That includes not only information on benefits and services, but also all content that was added to the site as part of its November relaunch.The improved VA.gov, which is scheduled to roll out this Veterans Day, will include the personalized claims tracking and benefit application tools that are currently available on Vets.gov. The agency’s Digital Service, which built Vets.gov, will retire the domain once it finishes transferring its content to the main site.