Picker seeks reopening of VA case

August 28, 1991

Picker International hopes to convince the Department of VeteransAffairs that independent service groups have not been unfairlyprevented from competing for VA contracts on Picker CT scanners.Chances are that Picker will be given a chance to air new

Picker International hopes to convince the Department of VeteransAffairs that independent service groups have not been unfairlyprevented from competing for VA contracts on Picker CT scanners.Chances are that Picker will be given a chance to air new informationon the issue at the VA.

An audit report conducted by the inspector general of the VAfound that specifications for maintenance contracts on PickerCT scanners give undue advantage to the equipment vendor. TheVA's acquisition department accepted the report and is in theprocess of rewriting service bid specifications (SCAN 7/31/91).

"We believe the report was drafted in response to pressuresinitiated by parties in litigation with Picker and that thereis substantial available data which...would materially alter theconclusions of the report," Picker said in a written statement."We are concerned...that this interim report is being takenout of context and is being abused by parties who compete withus and who stand to gain financially," Picker continued.

The IG audit was initiated at the request of the late Sen.H. John Heinz (R-PA), who acted at the instigation of ImagingEquipment Services, a Pennsylvania-based independent service organization.IES is involved with Picker in litigation over CT service issues.

"We would welcome Picker's production of information relativeto bidding practices at Veterans Administration Medical Centers,including lock-out specifications written by a Picker executivemanagement aide in the mid-1980s and refined throughout the years,"said IES president Thomas J. Quinn in a written response to thePicker statement. The alleged lock-out language "providesguidelines to field level managers (on how) to capture VeteransAdministration contracts," Quinn said.

The VA is caught in the middle of this conflict and doesn'twant to appear to favor either side.

"We have no axe to grind. We are just trying to get thefacts out," said Jack H. Kroll, assistant inspector generalfor policy, planning and resources with the IG.

While the audit report is considered finalized, Picker mayhave a chance to initiate further investigation if it has newinformation. Picker will meet with the IG this week to discussthis issue, Kroll told SCAN.