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VA Continues Gulf War Research, Cancels Contract with UTSW Medical Center

WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Citing persistent noncompliance and numerous performance deficiencies, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will not exercise the third year of a five-year, $75 million contract with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSWMC) to perform research into Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (GWVI).

"Research into the illnesses suffered by Gulf War Veterans remains a priority for VA," said Dr. Gerald M. Cross, VA's Acting Under Secretary for Health. "As part of our commitment to this vital effort, we must make certain that our resources are used to support effective and productive research."

VA listed several reasons for not exercising the contract option, including UTSWMC's persistent and continuing noncompliance with contract terms and conditions and detailed documentation by the contracting officer of performance deficiencies. VA also noted that its Office of Inspector General documented severe performance deficiencies in a July 15 report and recommended that no further task orders be issued under the contract.

VA will meet with UTSWMC contract staff today to provide guidance for completing work in progress and submitting adequate documentation to allow payment. UTSWMC will be allowed to fulfill task orders already in progress if it corrects all performance deficiencies.

The decision not to continue the contract means VA's research program will be able to redirect funds to support additional research into GWVI. In 2010, that research will include a genomic study to identify susceptibility factors and markers of GWVI; studies of similarities and differences with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia; studies of new diagnostic tests; identification of sub-populations of ill Gulf War Veterans; and studies of potential new treatments.

The redirected funding for these new VA research initiatives will be in addition to the substantial support VA already provides for GWVI research -- $7 million in 2008 and $4.8 million so far in 2009.

SOURCE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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