VA and Defense Health Care:

Potential Exists for Savings through Joint Purchasing of Medical and Surgical Supplies

GAO-02-872T: Published: Jun 26, 2002. Publicly Released: Jun 26, 2002.

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Cynthia A. Bascetta
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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) spent $500 million and the Department of Defense (DOD) spent $240 million for medical and surgical supplies in fiscal year 2001. Since the 1980s, To achieve greater efficiencies through improved acquisition processes and increased sharing of medical resources, VA and DOD signed a memorandum of agreement in 1999 to combine their buying power. VA and DOD saved $170 in 2001 by jointly procuring pharmaceuticals, by agreeing on particular drugs to be purchased, and contracting with the manufacturers for discounts based on their combined larger volume. VA and DOD have not awarded joint national contracts for medical and surgical supplies as envisioned by their memorandum of agreement, and it is unlikely that the two departments will have joint national contracts for supplies anytime soon. However, a few VA and DOD facilities have yielded modest savings through local joint contracting agreements. The lack of progress have made in jointly contracting for medical and surgical supplies has, in part, been the result of their different approaches to standardizing medical and surgical supplies. Other impediments to joint purchasing have been incomplete procurement data and the inability to identify similar high-volume, high-dollar purchases.

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