DOD's Acquisition of the Composite Health Care System

Gao ID: T-IMTEC-87-3 March 18, 1987

GAO testified on the Department of Defense's (DOD) efforts to modernize its medical information systems through the Composite Health Care System (CHCS) after Congress directed it to implement measures aimed at reducing development risk and controlling costs. Although DOD has more clearly defined its requirements and recently awarded four contracts for system development, GAO was concerned over whether DOD would: (1) have the appropriate information to select a single vendor by its target date of March 1988; (2) have sufficient time to perform necessary testing of the competing systems to adequately evaluate their capabilities in an operational environment; and (3) adequately consider the Veterans Administration's (VA) Decentralized Hospital Computer Program. GAO found that: (1) DOD was considering a modified acquisition strategy that would award contracts to two vendors in January 1988, 2 months earlier than it had intended to select a single vendor; and (2) although DOD and VA have expedited testing activities, significant delays have occurred because hardware acquisition and site preparation have taken longer than expected. GAO believes that: (1) software differences will be the primary reason for cost differences between the system acquired and one based on the VA system; (2) combining CHCS and the VA systems would better satisfy the DOD need for additional computer capacity; and (3) the potential billion-dollar investment the government will make warrants a sound acquisition strategy that appropriately considers needs, performance, and costs.

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