Veterans Affairs unveils first cut of $2.7B user experience tech recompete / Yuichiro Chino

This draft solicitation describes how VA wants to grow its pool of service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses for acquiring more commercial-like software development services.

The Veterans Affairs Department has given industry a first glimpse at the upcoming five-year, $2.7 billion recompete of a contract for acquiring digital products in support of user experience initiatives.

Known by the acronym SPRUCE, the Secure Performant Reliable and User Centered Experiences vehicle is a primary mechanism for VA to access more modern commercial-like software development services that are available to internal and external users.

Responses to the draft solicitation for SPRUCE are due to VA by 12 p.m. Eastern time on Sept. 21, the department said in a notice Friday.

SPRUCE is reserved for service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses and is the follow-on to the current contract called CEDAR -- short for Customer Experience DevOps and Agile Releases.

CEDAR has a shared ceiling of $247 million and went to these four companies in 2021: Agile Six Technologies, Coforma, Magnum Opus and Oddball.

VA has obligated approximately $162 million of the ceiling to-date with Agile Six Technologies as the largest recipient at 37% of that spend, according to GovTribe data.

SPRUCE would therefore represent a significant expansion of the work given the much larger ceiling of $2.7 billion and the goal of awarding the new contract to a maximum of eight companies.

This slide deck from VA's Advanced Planning Brief to Industry presentation in May highlights some of the accomplishments the department is touting from CEDAR, including a redesign of the homepage for making it easier to navigate.

VA's priorities for CEDAR and SPRUCE include responsive web applications, mobile applications, architecture planning, data science, data analytics, user research and prototyping.