Even CBO is stumped on the size of the contractor workforce

How many contractor employees does the federal government rely on, at what cost per person, and how does that compare with the cost of assigning the same task to a full-time hire?

When asked by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., ranking member of the House Budget Committee, the Congressional Budget Office took a shot but left the $64,000 question unresolved.

“Regrettably, CBO is unaware of any comprehensive information about the size of the federal government’s contracted workforce,” the nonpartisan analysts wrote in response. “However, using a database of federal contracts, CBO determined that federal agencies spent over $500 billion for contracted products and services in 2012.”

Spending on contracting grew between 2000 and 2012 more quickly than inflation and as a percentage of total federal spending, the response said. The fastest-growing category in dollars was contracts for professional, administrative and management services, CBO wrote—the top-expanding category being medical services.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2015/03/even-cbo-stumped-size-contractor-workforce/107436/

DISA drops $16 billion contract after controversy

The Pentagon has pulled back its plans to award a$1.6 billion contract re-up to VMware after several companies protested the award in February.

The Defense Department’s cancellation of its joint enterprise licensing agreement with VMware allowed the Government Accountability Office to dismiss bid protests filed by Amazon Web Services, Citrix, Nutanix and Minburn Technology Group.

Those four companies contended the re-up was an improper sole-source request for cloud services that would have given VMware an unfair edge for DOD’s growing cloud demand.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/emerging-tech-blog/2015/03/disa-drops-16b-contract-after-controversy/107631

Ambitious plan to reshape federal contracting emerges at OFPP

A new vision has emerged among top Obama administration officials for how they want federal contracting to look in a few years:

  • Key categories of spending — information technology, professional services, construction, etc. — will be aggregated across agencies and managed by dedicated executives who will focus on smoothing out pricing variability, analyzing spending data to optimize procurement strategies, culling duplicative contracts, and negotiating better deals based on overall governmentwide demand.
  • New digital tools will help procurement agents navigate the myriad contracts available. Those tools will provide quick access to the range of prices being paid at other agencies for comparable products and services to ensure fair pricing.
  • Databases on spending across agencies will inform smarter procurement approaches that leverage government buying power.

Known as Category Management, the approach is used widely in industry and in the United Kingdom, say proponents like Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) Administrator Anne Rung.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/acquisition/policy/2015/03/16/data-driven-contracting-feature/24852905/

OFPP initiates 360-degree reviews of the acquisition process

Vendors now can really tell agencies how they feel about their acquisition processes and procedures.

The guidelines for Acquisition 360, a Yelp-like approach to rating the acquisition process, arrived last Wednesday from the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) Administrator Anne Rung. The nine-page memo details how agencies should seek customer feedback from contractors and internal stakeholders on how well the contracting process went for specific procurements.

“This effort is not intended to be used to rate individual contracting officers, program managers, or integrated project teams (IPTs), or to compare procuring offices generally, as the complexity of procurements varies greatly among agencies, and unexpected challenges can arise,” Rung wrote in the memo. “However, these tools are meant to help agencies identify strengths and weaknesses with industry partnerships so they can make internal improvements on the planning and making of contract awards.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/517/3821690/OFPP-initiates-360-degree-reviews-of-the-acquisition-process

AT&L chief provides guidance on appropriate use of LPTA source selection

The Department of Defense (DoD) Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L) Frank Kendall distributed a memorandum to his department’s acquisition professionals on March 4, 2015, providing guidance on when to use lowest-price technically-acceptable (LPTA) contracts.

Notably, the guidance also speaks about how to apply LPTA competitions to acquisitions for professional services.

Kendall’s memo says that DoD should not use LPTA if it is willing to pay more for superior performance.

The memorandum is comprehensive in that it speaks to the types of contracts that DoD may use in LPTA procurements, including fixed-price, time and materials, and cost-plus fixed-fee contracts.

“LPTA is the appropriate source selection process to apply,” Kendall states, “only when there are well-defined requirements, the risk of unsuccessful performance is minimal, price is a significant factor in the selection, and there is neither value, need, nor willingness to pay for higher performance.”  Kendall continues: “LPTA has a clear, but limited place in the source selection ‘best value’ continuum.”

Read the full AT&L memorandum at: https://www.pubklaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/LPTA-memo.pdf

 

Week of April 6 important to anyone who needs to know how government contracts are administered

The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech is just days away from kicking off a week-long course that comprehensively covers the federal contract administration process.  The course begins Monday, April 6 and concludes Friday, April 10, 2015.

Who Should Attend

    • Government Contracting Officers will learn not only the rules but the best practices in contract administration. And, this course satisfies required FAC-C and DAWIA certification programs.
    • Business officials, including those to aspire to become federal contractors, will learn how to use the power of being an incumbent to win future contracts as well as how to protect contractual interests.

How You Will Benefit

You will learn:

      • The fundamental concepts of government contract administration.
      • The rights of the parties when contract performance is not timely.
      • Both the government’s and the contractor’s rights when contract performance comes into question.
      • The policies and procedures for preparing and processing contract modifications.
      • How to apply the requirements of applicable contract clauses in various contracting scenarios.
      • The applicable payment clauses and invoicing procedures.
      • The policies and procedures for filing and processing contract disputes and appeals.
      • The policies and procedures pertaining to the complete or partial termination of contracts for the convenience of the government or for default.
      • The pertinent Federal Acquisition Regulations.

Content

      • Contract administration basics
      • Contract modifications
      • Administration of selected terms and conditions
      • Delays
      • Quality assurance
      • Payment and cost allowability
      • Disputes and appeals
      • Terminations
      • Closeout

Materials

Each student receives a printed Student Guide, exercises, and updated supplemental information.

Additional Information

The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech (The Academy) is an approved equivalency training provider to the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) and the Federal Acquisition Institute (FAI).  Courses satisfy both the FAC-C and the DAWIA certification programs.  Courses also provide continuing education unit credits (CEUs) for acquisition and government contracting professionals as well as business professionals working for the government or pursuing opportunities in the federal contracting arena.

More Information and To Register

For more information on this course, please visit: https://pe.gatech.edu/courses/con-090-4-contract-administration-far

Inspectors general feud over VA official’s alleged contract steering

Two federal watchdogs are feuding over the legitimacy of a scathing report last year on questionable contracts at the Department of Veterans Affairs, causing a rare rift between government accountability offices.

Treasury Department Inspector General Eric Thorson issued a letter to House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) last week contesting findings of misconduct by former VA procurement officer Iris Cooper, now a top contracting official with Treasury.

A report last year from VA Inspector General Richard Griffin accused Cooper of steering $15 million in contracts to a friend’s company and ensuring that the deals would be non-competitive. It also alleged that she showed a “lack of candor” with investigators.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2015/03/16/inspectors-general-feud-over-va-officials-alleged-contract-steering/

NASA launches ‘paper-less’ procurement packages

It’s not rocket science to know that digitizing paper-based processes can save money and time, but a NASA field center is setting an example for how to best tackle the task.

The Acquisition Division of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has digitized hundreds of thousands of documents as part of its plan to make the procurement process paperless. The project began as “Work Different” in October 2012, and 20 months later the Interactive Acquisition Network (IAN) was rolled out.

“We chose paper-less, not paper-free because there’s always going to be some amount of paper,” said Martin Johnson, manager of the Acquisition Strategic Planning Office.

IAN is built on three Microsoft tools that were already part of JPL: Office 2013, SharePoint 2013 and OneNote 2013. Working with the JPL Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), the division created a system that electronically manages from start to finish all procurement packages.

“Subcontract packages are built on OneNote template-driven forms, then routed though SharePoint workflow using InfoPath 2013 forms to gather reviews, comments and approvals,” Steve Simpson, the acquisition technical lead for Work Different, and Wayne Wong, an enterprise apps software engineer at JPL, wrote in an announcement.

Keep reading this article at: http://gcn.com/articles/2015/02/18/paperless-procurement-nasa.aspx

3 upcoming courses essential to understanding contracting from both contracting officer and contractor perspectives

The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech is offering three courses in the next few weeks that offer essential insights into the federal contracting process, from both a government and a contractor point of view.

  • CON 120: Mission Focused Contracting is a comprehensive two-week course that covers the entire federal acquisition process, from meeting with the customer to completing the contract closeout process.  Highlights include: how Government officials are to perform market research, select the solicitation approach, evaluate bids and proposals, conduct negotiations, make contract awards, modify contracts, evaluate contractor performance, and properly close-out a contract.  This course is next offered March 23 – April 3, 2015 on Georgia Tech’s midtown Atlanta campus.  For more information and to register, click on the course title above.
  • COR 206/222: Contracting Officer Representative and the Contingency Contracting Environment is a one-week course that provides a comprehensive review of the role and responsibilities of the Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR) in the Government’s contract administration process. Students learn the fundamentals of contracting regulations, types, phases, and other elements of contract administration. Students are also coached on the ethical and legal factors that impact COR responsibilities in the normal course of business and in the Contingency Contracting Environment.  This course is next offered March 30 through April 3, 2015 on the Georgia Tech campus.  For more information and to register, click on the course title above.
  • CON 090-4: Contract Administration in the FAR covers all aspects of the Government’s contract management process, including how contracts are monitored, how contract changes are processed, contractors’ rights to file a claims, how contract modifications are authorized, closeout procedures, and contractor performance reporting.  This course is five days in length and is next scheduled for April 6-10, 2015 on Georgia Tech’s midtown Atlanta campus.  For more information and to register, click on the course title above.

To see a complete listing of upcoming contracting courses, please visit http://contractingacademy.gatech.edu/training.

 

 

How to unleash the full potential of GSA’s Federal Supply Schedules

President Barack Obama recently received a briefing from the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) on category management and the Common Acquisition Platform (CAP). The briefing is a very significant symbol of GSA’s important role in government management. It highlights GSA’s central role in providing procurement services and programs that support customer agency missions across the federal enterprise.

As a former GSA employee, it was great to see the White House focus on the important, unsung work GSA does day and day out on behalf of the American people.

Strategically, category management and the CAP have the potential to improve GSA’s delivery of best value commercial products, services and solutions to customer agencies. As you know, FAS has reorganized around market sectors or industry categories to better focus on market trends and customer requirements.

Category management has the potential to improve FAS’s management of its contracting programs through increased understanding of customer mission requirements and commercial market trends. The CAP has the potential to provide the federal enterprise with transparent, competitive information regarding already existing contracting programs, best procurement practices and market trends. The CAP can address contract duplication and provide federal market information that can further assist customer agencies in making sound, best value procurement decisions.

Keep reading this article at: