EHR vendor CliniComp sues VA over no-bid contract with Cerner to replace VistA

lawsuit and book
San Diego-based CliniComp has filed a lawsuit contesting the VA's decision to award a no-bid contract to Cerner.

An EHR vendor contracted by the Department of Defense filed a lawsuit against the federal government contesting a no-bid decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs to select Cerner to overhaul its EHR system.

CliniComp, which provides EHR systems for 61 DOD sites and 40 VA facilities, alleges the VA’s “arbitrary,  capricious” selection of Cerner to replace VistA violates a decades-old law that requires full and open competition for government contracts.

RELATED: Shulkin will use DOD tools, personnel to speed VA's transition to a new EHR system

In June, VA Secretary David Shulkin announced the agency would replace its existing EHR system with MHS Genesis, an off-the-shelf platform manufactured by Cerner, to better align its medical records system with DOD. Shulkin bypassed the agency’s requirement for a full and open competition, citing the “urgency and the critical nature” of modernizing the VA’s EHR system.

The complaint filed by CliniComp to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims argues that Shulkin’s decision to forgo open competition for the bid “lacks a reasonable basis.” In the time it takes to negotiate a contract with Cerner, the VA could hold “an accelerated full and open competition for the next generation EHR,” the complaint states.

RELATED: Lawmakers press Shulkin on VistA overhaul, push for better coordination with DOD

Requesting a preliminary and permanent injunction, the San Diego-based company adds that its own EHR software is well-suited to meet the interoperability needs outlined by the VA, and that Cerner’s no-bid contract will “cause great and irreparable injury to CliniComp” in the form of significant revenue loss.

The lawsuit was filed a month after CliniComp filed an agency protest against Secretary Shulkin’s decision with the VA. That protest was denied by Jan R. Frye, the deputy assistant a secretary for acquisition and material management, noting that Shulkin used a public interest exemption to bypass the bidding process.