The Data & Analytics Platform Saving Taxpayers and the Department of Veterans Affairs $1.9 Billion

Juania Owens and James Carlin

“Each year, the Federal Government spends hundreds of billions of dollars – over $325 billion in FY2018 – for common goods and services, such as software, mobile devices, and professional services”, as noted by Deputy Director for Management Margaret M. Weichert in the Office of Management and Budget’s 2019 M-19-13 Memorandum.

Building on the President’s Management Agenda (PMA), which identifies data as a key driver for transforming Government and challenges Agencies to view data as an asset to increase Government effectiveness, OMB Memo M-19-13 directs Agencies in assuming responsibility for making data-driven decisions. As a result, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs established the Analytics, Data and Decision Support Unified Platform (ADDS UP) to, in part, “avoid the waste associated with duplicative contract actions.”

ADDS UP ingests vendor, contract actions, and contract requirements data for products and services, from multiple sources and provides visibility into this data to various groups within the VA. The purpose is to enable more effective, more efficient acquisition decision-making to leverage every dollar spent for the Veteran and ultimately reduce costs for products and services across the Department.

Working in tandem with Strategic Resilience Group (SRG), Advanced Management Strategies Group (AMSG) and SRG’s focus has been on supporting the VA’s Office of Acquisitions, Logistics, and Construction’s (OALC) Category Management Support Office (CMSO) in four areas: Data Analytics, Category Management (CM), CM Execution, and CM Program Improvement/Change Management. CMSO’s mission is to enable the VA to lead the Federal Government by maximizing the results of CM through the development of collaborations, innovations, thought leadership, and the shifting culture in requirements and acquisitions.

Therefore, over the past two years, SRG and AMSG has advised the VA Senior Acquisition Officer and CM Council Secretariat and helped execute CMSO CM’s efforts. Specifically, as it relates to the PMA and M-19-13 Federal requirements, we successfully built data views for three distinct VA User Groups including, Senior Leaders, Acquisition Workforce, and Heads of Contracting Agencies/Category Managers to assist each user and user group in their ability to make informed, data-driven decisions. We have also increased awareness of these capabilities to various VA stakeholders while continuously gauging business requirements and processes. Our goal is to identify additional opportunities to deliver capabilities that enable faster and more accurate access to the information that helps our client make the best acquisition decisions.

When it comes to procuring products and services, every U.S. taxpayer should be interested in ensuring Federal Government Agencies get the most “bang for their buck”. Last Fiscal Year, the VA saved $1.9 billion using ADDS UP as its acquisition decision-making tool. These savings highlight the importance and impact ADDS UP has on, not only our Veterans, but our taxpayers as well. By employing ADDS UP, the VA is able to capture savings that could be used to expand capabilities positively impacting the Veteran by increasing the number of physicians by 5,200 or over 10,000 additional nurses or providing 7.6 million more mental health encounters. VA’s ADDS UP is a beacon for providing care and value to our Veterans while also making more effective use out of taxpayer dollars.