Defense and national intelligences services contractor CACI International, Arlington, Va., announced today that it has been awarded a prime contract by the Veterans Affairs Department to support its Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record development program with the Defense Department.
The contract has a ceiling value of $91 million over five years, according to a news release from CACI.
Also under the contract, CACI will support the VA's efforts to link with the proposed Nationwide Health Information Network, develop a health data repository, an administrative data repository and continue work on a clinical health data repository (CHDR), according to the SAIC statement. The CHDR is a long-standing joint project of the VA and Defense Department to exchange outpatient pharmacy and drug allergy information for shared patients.
This month, CACI was named a prime contractor on a $1 billion umbrella contract to develop IT systems for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
President Barack Obama threw his weight behind the VLER program in April 2009, but the latest effort marks only one more milestone in a long, bumpy, costly and controversial road to achieve interoperability between the veterans' and military's related electronic health-record systems.
The lack of interoperability between the systems has been the target of repeated and sometimes scathing reports from the Government Accountability Office dating back to 2001. At a Senate subcommittee hearing this month, Tom Munnecke, a pioneer programmer with the VA and the Defense Department, said that in the mid-1980s he and several colleagues built a system to allow clinicians at the VA's Loma Linda, Calif., hospital and the Defense Department's March Air Force Base in nearby Riverside, Calif., to view each others' patients' records. Munnecke blamed mismanagement and turf protection rather than a lack of technological capability for "crippling" the interoperability features that were designed to be part of the military's IT system—a clone of the VA's system—to "protect their bureaucratic stovepipes."