On May 19, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued a request for proposal for two digital centers to help manage the cloud migration for two of its benefits programs.

Five days later, it withdrew the offer.

According to the initial May 19 RFP, the digital centers were meant to provide a cloud migration for the VA's Memorial Benefits Management Services Project and the Benefits Delivery Network Project as part of the agency's Veteran-focused Integration Process, or VIP.

Related: Read the RFP

VIP was designed in 2016 to deliver front-facing delivery systems for veterans through lean-Agile frameworks. 

The RFI cancellation came a day after the White House released its budget, which included a cut of $215 million in information technology appropriations from the agency's fiscal 2017 numbers.

The May 24 announcement on FedBizOpps provided little insight into why the agency would pull an RFP five days after it was issued, other than a previously unannounced change in direction.

"In light of changes to VA’s modernization priorities, this project is being put on hold until further notice," the RFP update said. "Therefore, there is no need to respond to the questions previously posted under this RFI and this draft RFP is canceled."

The projects are designed to set up automated systems to process claims for veteran memorial benefits through MBMS and vocational rehabilitation, education and death benefits through BDN in an effort to reduce documentation and ease the application process.

The RFP called for agile sprints to set up the processes over the course of a year, moving the BDN off of its legacy systems starting in October 2017 and the MBMS project set to get underway in January 2018.

The May 19 RFP called for bids on one digital center to serve for contractor development of the systems provided, followed by a second RFP, anticipated for June 2017, for bids on a second digital center to strictly manage system sustainment.

The VA had previously issued a request for information for the project and held an industry day on April 5, hosted by its Technology Acquisition Center in Austin, Texas.

IT modernization will play a key role in the VA’s proposed reform efforts, including an anticipated July decision on whether the agency will maintain its Veterans Information Systems and Technology Architecture, or VistA, electronic health records system or purchase a commercial-off-the-shelf EHR system.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin told the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on May 24 that he was weighing strongly either pursuing a COTS solution for electronic health records, whether it’s a standalone product or an outsourcing of VistA operations, but would need additional support from Congress.

"I want to get VA out of the software development business," he said.

VA officials in the agency’s Office of Information and Technology were not available for comment.

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