Some acquisition ideas for the next president

Although it’s still a year away, the next presidential election will be upon us before we know it. 

White HouseAnd with so many issues needing attention, a set of recommendations on a federal technology agenda would help the next administration hit the ground running.

It’s important to see through the haze of heated rhetoric and focus on three questions:

1. What current initiatives should be continued? Too often, ongoing efforts from the prior administration languish or are discarded because they weren’t invented here.

2. What current initiatives or policies should be terminated? The road of federal IT initiatives is paved with many well-intentioned efforts at portfolio management that never actually retire legacy systems. Similarly, practices that create drag on the rapid acquisition of effective IT solutions must be discarded.

3. What new initiatives and actions should be embraced? We need to bring speed, innovation and commercial best practices to government. We can no longer afford to function in an environment in which the platforms, apps and managed services available in the commercial marketplace are not the norm in the federal government.

Keep reading this article — including what should be kept on the bus and what should be thrown under the bus — at:

Defense industry pushes back against Pentagon’s consolidation concerns

The Aerospace Industries Association last week pushed back against comments made by the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, who in unusually strong language raised concerns about consolidation in the defense industry.
Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

Frank Kendall, the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, said this week that continued consolidation of major defense firms could limit competition, stifle innovation and eventually result “in higher prices to be paid by the American taxpayer in order to support our warfighters.”

And Kendall said he feared a future where the Pentagon “has at most two or three very large suppliers for all the major weapons systems that we acquire.”

Aerospace Industries AssociationBut in its statement, David F. Melcher, the chief executive officer of the AIA, said that as defense spending tightens and there is continued budget uncertainty, “it’s no surprise that industry is looking to become leaner and more efficient.”

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Lockheed-Sikorsky deal stokes fears about industry consolidation

As the world’s largest defense company gets even larger, Pentagon leaders worry that competition is evaporating.

BlackhawkThe Pentagon’s top arms buyer worries that Lockheed Martin’s upcoming $9 billion acquisition of Blackhawk helicopter maker Sikorsky is part of a bad trend in which large defense firms get bigger and competition wanes.

The Defense Department will not block the purchase, but “we believe that these types of acquisitions still give rise to significant policy concerns,” Frank Kendall, undersecretary for acquisition, told reporters on September 30. “The Department of Defense is concerned about the continuing march toward greater consolidation in the defense industry at the prime contractor level.”

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Agency’s “cut-and-paste” proposal evaluation upheld

An agency’s evaluation of proposals was not improper even though the Source Selection Authority “cut and paste” portions of a selection document used in a similar procurement – including typographical errors and a reference to a firm that had not submitted a proposal.

GAO-GovernmentAccountabilityOffice-SealThe GAO’s recent decision highlights an uncomfortable truth of government contracting: while the government can (and often does) demand nearly perfect proposals, the government may be able to get by with sloppy or lazy evaluations.

The GAO’s decision in Noble Supply and Logistics, B-410877.4 et al. (July 29, 2015) involved a DLA solicitation for maintenance, repair and operations supplies in the DLA’s south central region, geographical zones 1 and 2.  The solicitation called for two contracts to be awarded, one for each geographical region.

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There’s hope for local procurement reform amid ongoing struggles

It’s not a secret that the procurement process is problematic across all levels of government in the United States. That’s certainly true in local jurisdictions.

The Promise ...Procurement has especially been a source of frustration in tech circles, where it might not be surprising for vendors to find a root canal more pleasant than dealing with cumbersome and antiquated municipal RFP processes usually designed for purchasing physical products than IT services.

While procurement problems persist, there’s some hope, too.

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