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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Remarks by Former Deputy Secretary W. Scott Gould

VA Supplier Relationship Transformation Webinar
Closing Remarks
Washington, DC
December 9, 2009

In closing, all of us at VA would like to thank each of you who came here today and who are watching this Webinar online. We sincerely hope this has been a valuable use of your time and that this session has been informative.

As you’ve learned this morning, we’re very serious about changing the way we do business with our suppliers. We’re taking President Obama’s charge to transform the agency very seriously. Change is the operative word. We will foster it. We will embrace it and we will not shy away from doing what’s necessary to transform our acquisitions.

In fact, the first major speech I gave as Deputy Secretary was to government acquisition professionals about acquisition reform. I encouraged them to be mission-focused, results-oriented, and to think outside the box. I also asked them to consider how they might partner with the private sector, rather than viewing contractors as their adversaries.

Here at VA, Secretary Shinseki has asked every one of our 298,000 employees to adopt an attitude of advocacy in every line of our operations—and that includes our acquisitions. Our goal is to be #1 in customer satisfaction with our suppliers.

This acquisition transformation initiative will improve the way we do business with you. It will help us buy the goods and services we need while reducing waste and overhead. It should help you improve your ability to participate and to manage your bottom line in this market. I can assure you that we will move forward together as partners.

At VA, we are stewards of the long-held national obligation to care for those who defended our nation, a VA mission for nearly 80 years.

Our progress in achieving clinical quality and patient safety is the result of many hard-earned successes. And that hard work lays the foundation for us as we, with our suppliers as integral partners, transform VA into a 21st century organization. With your help, VA will be a different organization from the one that exists today.

Looking ahead, there are a few things coming up that you should know about. Early in the new year, we will be meeting with several commercial healthcare Group Purchasing Organizations, or GPOs, to discuss ways that VA and these GPOs can work together and leverage our buying power.

We’re being more strategic about how we source our supplies, with office products as our first targeted commodity area, and we recently agreed to partner more with small businesses. Our new goal is for 33.5 percent of our acquisitions to go to small businesses.

In the spring, we’ll be holding meetings with various industry associations to discuss partnering on future acquisition Integrated Product Teams. And please don’t forget to fill out our first supplier perception survey when it comes out from Michigan State University. We’ll be on the lookout for your candid assessment!

Thank you very much for your attention this morning, and for your questions. I look forward to more productive sessions like this in the new year.