[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 64 (Tuesday, April 3, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 19975-19976]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-7969]


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DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

48 CFR Parts 801, 806, 812, 837, 852, and 873


VA Acquisition Regulation: Simplified Acquisition Procedures for 
Health-Care Resources (Section 610 Review)

AGENCY: Department of Veterans Affairs.

ACTION: Notice of regulatory review.

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SUMMARY: On January 24, 2003, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) 
amended the VA Acquisition Regulation (VAAR) by establishing simplified 
procedures for the competitive acquisition of health-care resources, 
consisting of commercial services or the use of medical equipment or 
space, pursuant to the Veterans' Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 
1996 (38 U.S.C. 8151-8153). These procedures are codified at 48 CFR 
chapter 8. In developing these standards, VA performed a Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis which indicated the rule could have a significant 
impact on a substantial number of small businesses.
    VA has initiated a review of this rule under section 610 of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act to determine if the rule should be continued 
without change, or should be amended or rescinded, to minimize adverse 
economic impacts on small entities. Please note that VA is in the 
process of rewriting the VAAR and will be reviewing the requirements of 
this rule in detail as part of this revision initiative. In the 
interim, VA solicits, and will consider, public comments on factors 
described in the Supplementary Information.

DATES: Comments must be received by VA on or before May 3, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Written comments may be submitted through 
www.regulations.gov; by mail or hand-delivery to the Director, 
Regulations Management (02REG), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 
Vermont Ave. NW., Room 1068, Washington, DC 20420; or by fax to (202) 
273-9026. Copies of comments received will be available for public 
inspection in the Office of Regulation Policy and Management, Room 
1063B, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday 
(except holidays). Please call (202) 461-4902 for an appointment. In 
addition, during the

[[Page 19976]]

comment period, comments may be viewed online through the Federal 
Docket Management System (FDMS) at www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dennis Foley, (202) 461-4998, Office 
of the General Counsel, Professional Staff Group V; or Eyvonne Mallett, 
(202) 461-5101, Procurement Policy and Warrant Management Service 
(003A2A), Office of Acquisition, Logistics and Construction, Department 
of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20420.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The analysis published in the January 24, 
2003 final rule (68 FR 3465) reviewed fiscal year (FY) 1998 individual 
service transactions valued in excess of $25,000. In FY 1998, the 
Veterans Health Administration (VHA) reported approximately 6,000 
individual service transactions above $25,000 excluding classification 
codes C, architect/engineering; E, purchase of structures; Q402, 
nursing home; Y, construction; and Z, maintenance of real property, all 
of which VA believes are not covered by this rule. Of those 6,000 
transactions, approximately 3,000 were awarded to small businesses and 
approximately 900 were reported to non-profit businesses. Similar 
figures were reported in FY 1999. Of the total acquisition dollars 
associated with these 6,000 annual awards, we estimate that in FY 1998, 
approximately 42 percent, and in FY 1999, approximately 44 percent, 
were awarded to small businesses. In reviewing this analysis, VA 
determined that the impact on small businesses was minimal because the 
rule does not apply to the majority of VA acquisitions.
    The rule only applies to competitive acquisitions of commercial 
services or the use of medical equipment or space conducted by VHA that 
specifically reference the authority of 38 U.S.C. 8153. The rule does 
not apply to acquisitions of supplies or equipment made on behalf of 
VHA or to acquisitions made on behalf of Veterans Benefits 
Administration (VBA) or National Cemetery Administration (NCA). 
Additionally, the rule does not apply to acquisitions of services for 
which other specific authorities apply, such as acquisitions of nursing 
home care services, which are acquired under the authority of 38 U.S.C. 
1720, or to acquisitions of non-commercial services, such as 
construction. Therefore, VA developed the rule in a way that mitigated 
small business impact to the extent possible while still fulfilling the 
Veterans' Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996 mandates.
    VA has initiated a review of this rule under section 610 of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act to determine if the rule should be continued 
without change, or should be amended or rescinded, to minimize adverse 
economic impacts on small entities. Please note that VA is in the 
process of rewriting the VAAR and will be reviewing the requirements of 
this rule in detail as part of this revision initiative. In the 
interim, VA solicits, and will consider, public comments on the 
following factors under this rule: (1) The continued need for the rule; 
(2) the nature of complaints or comments received concerning the rule; 
(3) the complexity of the rule; (4) the extent to which the rule 
overlaps, duplicates, or conflicts with other Federal, State, or local 
government rules; and (5) the degree to which technology, economic 
conditions, or other factors have changed in the area affected by the 
rule. VA still considers the rule necessary as it establishes 
simplified acquisition procedures for VA to acquire health-care 
resources consisting of commercial services or the use of medical 
equipment or space as authorized by 38 U.S.C. 8151-8153. No comments 
were received when the rule was initially published for public comment. 
In addition, VA has not received any complaints since the rule's final 
publication. The rule is not overly complex; however, it does overlap 
and change select provisions of Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 
Part 15 on negotiated acquisitions. This is to provide VA contracting 
officers with additional tools and procedures, along with some 
simplification of the negotiated acquisition process, when deemed 
advantageous to VA. This rule does not in any way change the 
fundamental concept in acquisitions that all offerors are treated 
fairly. Consideration may be given to updating the rule to reflect any 
changes to FAR references or other citations of authority.

Signing Authority

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, or designee, approved this 
document and authorized the undersigned to sign and submit the document 
to the Office of the Federal Register for publication electronically as 
an official document of the Department of Veterans Affairs. John R. 
Gingrich, Chief of Staff, Department of Veterans Affairs, approved this 
document on March 26, 2012, for publication.

    Dated: March 29, 2012.
Robert C. McFetridge,
Director of Regulation Policy and Management, Office of the General 
Counsel, Department of Veterans Affairs.
[FR Doc. 2012-7969 Filed 4-2-12; 8:45 am]
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