GAO dismisses Nuance's protest over $10B Cerner, VA contract

The U.S. Government Accountability office rejected Nuance Communications' protest of the Department of Veterans Affair's $10 billion contract with Cerner, which includes a clinical documentation improvement task order that Nuance claimed should have been bid out separately.

VA in September 2019 issued a $19 million task order that required Cerner to develop and deploy encoding and clinical documentation improvement tools to meet the VA's EHR modernization revenue cycle requirements. One month later, Nuance filed a protest arguing that the task order requirements should have been bid out as a separate contract because the order was outside the scope of the agency's underlying contract.

VA awarded Cerner a $10B contract in May 2018 to develop and deploy an EHR across its network. Nuance is currently under contract to provide VA with CDI tools until September 2020.

"Based on our review of the record, it is clear that the coding and CDI requirements of [the task order] are inherent to performance of the comprehensive EHR requirements, specifically including the requirement to provide support for the revenue cycle," the GAO wrote in a Jan. 8 document for public release.

GAO also added that Nuance's protest is unfounded since the company tried for months to get Cerner to choose it as a subcontractor for the CDI work and only filed its complaint after Cerner was awarded the task order and had denied Nuance's request, according to the report.

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