‘$23 Billion Up for Grabs’

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‘$23 Billion Up for Grabs’

Joe Biden’s embrace of VA outsourcing just got worse.


OCTOBER 25, 2023

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been suffering from continuing staffing shortages at the nation’s largest public health care system, which has hampered the ability to directly care for veterans. But under President Biden, the VA has decided to deal with this problem by contracting it out.

The VA-run Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has just unveiled what it calls an “Integrated Critical Staffing Program” (ICSP). The acronym may be new, but the “staffing solution” behind it is not: Like many employers, the VA is turning to private-sector “temporary staffing” agencies.

In early September, D.C.-based GDI Consulting touted this news to current and future clients seeking to “capture enterprise-level government contracts.” As GDI reported, there is now a “$23 billion opportunity up for grabs” for those who provide key human resources functions, like “recruitment, retention, and staffing,” which are now handled in-house by the third-largest federal department.

Although the VHA has used temporary employees in the past, this “costly and massive solicitation is unprecedented,” one former medical center director told the Prospect. “These HR firms have no appreciation or understanding of the VA’s special mission and culture. And temp workers, by definition, have no loyalty to the VHA or knowledge of the complex conditions of the veterans we treat.” Others noted, not admiringly, that this “staff augmentation” model seems to be borrowed from the Department of Defense (DOD), which has thousands of contract employees working alongside its regular civilian workforce.


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