GSA takes the easy way out to solve contracting challenge

The General Services Administration’s choice to create a blanket purchase agreement for Salesforce cloud integration and support services on the surface seems logical.

GSA Salesforce DecisionIt’s a widely used platform — according to a simple search on website there have been 227 contracts worth more than $61 million since fiscal 2011— and one that needs more structure and control across government.

“The marketplace for Salesforce implementation and integration services was fragmented and had some disparity in there,” said David Shive, GSA’s chief information officer during a press call on Jan. 20. “When we looked, we saw there were no established quality standards for Salesforce development. We saw there were inexperienced vendors that were winning with new Salesforce customers, but sometimes had some dubious results coming out from those inexperienced vendors. We saw there was inconsistent delivery of code and configuration from agency to agency. There was failed implementations that was negatively impacting adoption of the tools and the processes surrounding those tools. And we saw that some vendors were rebuilding the same apps for the same agency and were developing closed systems in an otherwise open environment.”

Keep reading this article at:

City trains employees to think like entrepreneurs

What’s happening with city employees in Albuquerque, New Mexico may help change the way we think about entrepreneurship and the way business owners, founders and managers think about employees.

Entrepreneurial ThinkingA little more than a year ago, Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry launched a program to teach 100 city employees how to think like entrepreneurs and learn the entrepreneurial mindset. That mindset is the set of skills and attitudes that entrepreneurs and innovators use to identify opportunities and overcome challenges.

“We enrolled 100 City employees because we need the entrepreneurial mindset now more than ever. It is about creating an environment to succeed that is based in efficiency, critical thinking and collaboration. We think the entrepreneurial mindset is a big part of the equation that leads us towards innovation and success,” Berry said.

The mayor and partners at Central New Mexico Community College have placed bets that exposing city employees to the mindset can transform the way they work, making the city more efficient and boosting the satisfaction of their residents and taxpayers.

Keep reading this article at:

DOJ finds federal employee’s business ownership fraudulent, fines DBE firm $84,000

A Massachusetts-based transportation consulting  company has been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice  with making a false statement in connection with its certification for favored contracting status.

Justice Dept. sealTransit Safety Management, Inc. (TSM) was charged with one count of making a false statement to a state agency in order to maintain its status as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE).

In order to qualify as a DBE, a company’s management must be controlled by a socially or economically disadvantaged individual such as a woman or minority.  The purpose of the program is to give an economic advantage to minorities and women who run their own companies.  However, the manager of the DBE cannot also engage in employment that would prevent her from devoting sufficient attention to the affairs of the DBE.  In this case investigators discovered that TSM’s purported owner was a full-time employee of a federal agency and the business was really operated by her husband making it ineligible for certification as a DBE.

US DOTTSM provided consulting services to the railroad industry, focusing on safety and operations management.  Shortly after it was founded in 1999, TSM’s owner certified the company as a DBE.   As such, TSM was able to take advantage of federal regulations aimed at promoting the participation of minority and disadvantaged businesses in federally-funded public construction contracts.  Under the DBE regulations, a contractor on federally-assisted transportation projects must either subcontract a percentage of its work to a DBE or show that it made a good faith effort to subcontract work to a DBE but was unable to do so.  This requirement makes the DBE status a valuable and potentially lucrative designation.

In order to maintain its DBE certification, TSM had to make yearly affirmations that it was still eligible and that nothing had changed that would affect its eligibility for the favored DBE status.  Despite this, TSM lied about whether it met the criteria for DBE status.  According to court documents, TSM’s owner was hired as a full-time employee with a federal agency in 2005.  As a full-time federal employee, TSM’s purported manager could not control TSM under the regulations.  Nevertheless, TSM failed to disclose this change and continued to make its yearly affirmations to maintain is DBE status.

As part of its plea agreement, TSM has agreed to pay a fine of $84,000 and dissolve its operations.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Todd Damiani, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations; and Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, made the announcement of the plea agreement.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugenia M. Carris of Ortiz’s Public Corruption Unit.

The details contained in the Information are allegations.  The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Federal government proposing to dump use of DUNS numbers

In 2015, the federal government spent nearly half of a trillion dollars on contracts with private companies—$436,668,103,830, to be exact.

DUNS numberMembers of the public are free to drill down into this data and track funding going to specific businesses, thanks to a series of policies designed to increase government transparency and accountability by treating information about government spending as open data—machine readable, timely and freely available online.

However, federal contracting policy requires the use of a specific proprietary data standard to keep track of entities receiving federal funds.

Known as the Data Universal Numbering System, or DUNS, the current standard was developed by business information reporting company Dun & Bradstreet. And therein lies a problem: Not only is the use of a proprietary standard antithetical to the principle of an open and transparent government, as it limits the usability and accessibility of the data, but the government has already recognized that requiring the use of DUNS grants Dun & Bradstreet a monopoly on data that uses DUNS numbers, reducing competition and increasing costs.

Fortunately, the General Services Administration, the Defense Department and NASA have recently proposed to amend federal contracting policy to eliminate the requirement to use DUNS, which would make data on government spending more transparent and usable by the government and the public alike.

Keep reading this article at:

Acquisition reform ramps up early in 2016

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry is wasting no time in his efforts to build on last year’s reforms to the defense acquisition system. 

House Armed Services CommitteeLess than a year after he launched his opening salvo in a new round of changes, Chairman Thornberry previewed the year ahead with a recent hearing and a presentation at the National Press Club.

Chairman Thornberry plans to circulate draft reform legislation and incorporate the finished product into the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  Emphasizing (once again) the themes of agility and innovation, the hearing featured the senior acquisition executives from each of the military departments.  Chairman Thornberry expressed particular interest in finding ways to support their drive for greater flexibility in experimentation and prototyping.

Keep reading this article at: