VA seeks collaborative tech for employees

The Department of Veterans Affairs wants to connects health care personnel across the entire VA service network in an effort to reduce duplication and promote sharing of best practices.

The Department of Veterans Affairs wants to connects health care personnel across the entire VA service network in an effort to reduce duplication and promote forward-thinking learning interventions.

VA Pulse would be an online social site that would serve “as the foundation for facilitating sharing and promotion of evidence-based best practices, centralized and streamlined information and innovative methods to achieve the needs of Veterans Health Administration,” according to the agency's presolicitation.

The VA’s Office of Strategic Integration has a goal of reaching upwards of 300,000 users of VA Pulse by the end of the third contract year. It anticipates awarding a 5-year single-award firm fixed price indefinite delivery indefinite quantity contract for services. The software-as-a-service solution will be tested  on Jive Software  at three sites with a total of 2,000 users, followed by a national rollout.

VA Pulse is intended to “support change management surrounding transformation of VHA person-to-person communication.…The solution must connect the VHA community in a business social network that strengthens relationships, improves access to information, and delivers tailored solutions to practitioners that integrates seamlessly into their workflow.”

Users would be able to access VA Pulse via standard VHA computers as well as from other remote devices including smart phones, BlackBerrys, tablets and laptops. Some capabilities that OSI seeking with VA Pulse include tools and intuitive and easy-to-use interfaces for the following capabilities:

  • Content management, with mobile optimization
  • Video/audio/text uploading and embedding
  • Content creation, editing, sharing, “liking”
  • Customized content subpages for specific target audiences
  • Integration with Microsoft Office
  • Threaded discussion forums and blogging options
  • Collaborative document editing via a wiki
  • Gamification or other catalysts to encourage usage
  • A systemwide “expertise finder”
  • Content tagging for enhancing search capabilities
  • User profiles
  • Notifications of new content
  • Metrics and reporting

Social collaboration sites are used in various agencies. The State Department launched a collaborative site, Corridor, three years ago for its 70,000 workers. Today, the site has about 17,000 members and more than 800 professional and personal user groups behind State’s sensitive but unclassified network called OpenNet. OpenNet lets employees from far-flung places search for individuals with specific experience or skills, ask questions, do polling and seek advice, among other things. The eDiplomacy office, which oversees Corridor’s development, will be adding new functionality as well as a mobile version later this year.

According to a survey on government collaborative initiatives by the 1105 Public Sector Media Group, parent company of GCN, collaboration initiatives are expected to expand during the next two years, both in terms of the number of users involved and the range of tasks supported. Today, on average, collaboration tools are being used by 56 percent of an agency’s employees, up from 36 percent two years ago. Two years from now, that number is expected to reach 71 percent. 

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