Photograph: U.S. Navy

US warships heading to the South China Sea

March 8, 2016 Kevin Brancato

Welcome to Bloomberg Government’s Analyst Picks, a hand-picked list of today’s top federal contracting stories.

What you should know today: DLA announces MAC award for electric generators; So long to VistA?; Sabre-rattling in the South China Sea.

GENERATING CONTRACTS

DOD Electric Generators’ MAC Geared to Civilian Agencies

On March 4, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) announced the award of a five-year, $45 million multiple-award contract (MAC) to five companies to provide electric generators in all 50 states, the Caribbean and the Pacific islands.
This is a rare case of a Pentagon contract where customers are federal civilian agencies, and not defense agencies, according to the DLA announcement.
The moral of the story: Expect the Defense Department to continue forging small, highly specialized MACs with ceilings less than $100 million — and expect their use to bleed into civilian agencies that are otherwise under considerable pressure to consolidate contract vehicles.


HALTING I.T. MODERNIZATION

Will VA Say ‘Hasta la Vista, VistA?’

Both Federal News Radio’s Jared Serbu and Fedscoop’s Billy Mitchell reported last week that the Veterans Affairs Department has stopped modernizing parts of the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), which contains the electronic health records for VA patients.

Both reports tied a reduction in the VistA budget request to the possibility that the VA may abandon VistA altogether.

Asked point blank at a March 2 House Appropriations military subcommittee hearing whether the VA’s plan is to replace VistA with something off the shelf, LaVerne Council, the VA’s chief information officer, said: “We have not made our minds up.”

No timeline was requested for when the VA’s strategic plan would be completed.


SPRATLY SPAT

U.S. Sends Warships to South China Sea

“The U.S. just sent a carrier strike group to confront China.” While that C4ISR.net headline from March 3 is provocative, it’s backed up with specific details of U.S. ship movements in the South China Sea: “The carrier John C. Stennis, two destroyers, two cruisers and the 7th Fleet flagship have sailed into the disputed waters in recent days, according to military officials.”

As the U.S. and China continue to exhibit shows of force in the area of the Spratly Islands, the endgame to this confrontation is anybody’s guess.

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