For many years the Department of Veterans Affairs has worked to make it easier for veterans to access VA services. Now the department is two months into an effort to make it easier for vendors — and what the department calls “innovators” — to put their services and capabilities before VA program and contract people. It’s a website called Pathfinder. For how it works, the Federal Drive with Tom Temin spoke with Michael Parrish, the VA’s chief acquisition officer.
Tom Temin: Tell us about Pathfinder. Now I went to the website and there’s basically two buttons. And you go this way, if you consider yourself an innovator or someone who has something to share, you go that way on the other button, if you want to sell to VA. So tell us more about what you’re trying to get done here?
Michael Parrish: Sure. So the Pathfinder website, which is pathfinder.va.gov is what I call a fusion of acquisition and innovation, it’s the first of its kind, to be able to consider the entire lifecycle of a new product. So I’ll start with the innovation side: one of the things we want to do is be able to capture new ideas and new inventions and things that we in VA can possibly reuse, but evaluate and possibly help fund and grow and incubate new solutions. And then obviously, evaluate them from the standpoint that if they can work inside VA, then we can commercialize it inside VA, make it a standard product. So that’s the acquisition side from the developing a new product early on requirements to us actually using it. On the sell side, it’s a way to capture market information and data from our vendors that link in the same way… Read the full interview here.