The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is taking a deeper look to evaluate its supply chain management system, the Defense Medical Logistics Standard Support (DMLSS), which the VA adopted from the Department of Defense (DoD) in 2019.

In deciding whether or not DMLSS is the best fit, VA Chief Information Officer and Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology Kurt DelBene said today that the agency is also exploring other options.

The VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report in November 2021 that found failures in VA’s pilot project to deploy the DMLSS system at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center (Lovell) in North Chicago, Illinois.

Specifically, the OIG found the DMLSS system did not meet 44 percent of the high-priority business requirements identified by Lovell staff as essential to successful operations. In other words, as Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., said during a hearing today, “it simply didn’t work.”

As a result, the VA is taking a deeper look at its supply chain modernization program, DelBene said today during a House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing. DelBene has only served in his role at VA for just over a month, but said he is “excited” to improve the delivery of services to veterans.

In taking a look at DMLSS, DelBene said the VA has an opportunity “to be state of the art in terms of how we manage our supply chain.” While DMLSS is a solution that is provided by the DoD, he believes it’s important to take a step back and see how it’s working for the VA.

“Rightly so, our chief acquisition officer said we should also step back and look at what the different options are that are available to us to make sure that we’re making a conscious decision based on the requirements of the [DMLSS] program and end up with the best solution for supply chain solution at the VA,” DelBene said during the hearing.

“We’re looking deeply at how DMLSS works,” he added. “We’re also looking at other commercial solutions that might be available, and we want to make sure that we make the right choice there because it is such a critical decision.”

The decision on whether to continue the use of the DMLSS program is an expensive one, as the OIG found the deployment of the DMLSS system is expected to cost $2.2 billion over 15 years.

“At the end of the day, I have the opportunity to review it [DMLSS] and decide whether those allocations make sense,” DelBene said.

“A lot of discussion has happened within the VA on this question of what our supply chain strategy should be, and what role that DMLSS plays in that,” he added. “There has been no lack of discussion around that topic.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.