OMB memo looks to lessen ‘earned value’ certification burden

In a memorandum issued late last month by Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Anne Rung, the Obama administration wants to make at least one certification process a bit easier for chief acquisition officers and senior procurement executives.

OFPPIn the Oct. 23, 2015 memo, the Office of Management and Budget said federal agencies can enter into reciprocity agreements that recognize the Earned Value Management System certifications granted by other agencies.

“Agencies are encouraged to enter into reciprocal agreements with other agencies and to post their EVM processes and procedures on their public websites,” said the new guidance.

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‘If I knew then …’

This is part of a recurring series sponsored by Federal Times, where former federal leaders reflect upon the lessons learned since leaving government.

If I Knew ThenIf you knew then what you know now … How would you have partnered with industry differently?

When agency needs arise, in order to ensure fairness and equitable consideration, lengthy and detailed requirements are crafted and sent to the industry. However, this often leads to bad outcomes. In order to mitigate protest risks, requirements are increasingly specific and fixed, but they leave very little if any room for industry to offer alternate, compelling approaches to solve the stated problems. As a result, many innovative and compelling solutions don’t even make it past the first gate, and the government suffers as a result. It also reinforces a cycle of inertia, whereby since government employees don’t see those innovative solutions, they keep asking for what they know, and as a result, continue to get the same traditional approaches and solutions.

If I had to do it over again, I would find ways to re-think how government partners with the industry.

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GSA settles discrimination suit with blind contractors

Three blind federal contractors who sued the General Services Administration (GSA) over a website that they said was not accessible to the visually impaired have settled with the agency.  

SAM logoA lawyer representing the contractors announced the settlement on Nov. 12.

“This is an excellent result not only for our clients, but for the blind community as a whole,” said Lewis Wiener, co-chair of Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and partner at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP, in a statement.

The 18-month lawsuit began when the contractors found that one of GSA’s websites, the System for Award Management or, was not accessible for the visually impaired and prevented the trio from maintaining their contractor status.

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OPM’s credit-monitoring contract violated the FAR

A contract to provide credit and identity monitoring services to millions affected by this summer’s hack of the Office of Personnel and Management (OPM) was made in violation of federal acquisition rules, according to a ruling from OPM’s inspector general, found in an Oct. 30 memo to acting OPM director Beth Cobert.

OPM“We determined that the [Office of Procurement Operations] did not award the Winvale contract in compliance with the FAR and OPM’s policies and procedures, which led to the OPO selecting the wrong contracting vehicle,” the memo, from OPM IG Patrick McFarland’s office, said.

“While we are unable to determine whether the issues we uncovered are significant enough to have impacted the award of the contract to Winvale Group LLC, and its subcontractor, CSIdentity, it is evident that significant deficiencies existed in the OPO over the contract award process.”

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More lift, less turbulence: 5 management secrets from the AF Secretary

Let’s face it: “compromise” must stop being a four-letter word in Washington.
Deborah Lee James is the Secretary of the Air Force, Washington, D.C. She is the author of this article.
Deborah Lee James is the Secretary of the Air Force, Washington, D.C. She is the author of this article.

Piloting a large organization such as the Air Force through turbulent geopolitical air is challenging, and more so without a solid budget. We’ve teetered on the seesaw of instability for too long. We need Washington to come together and compromise to fund the Air Force appropriately and help return us to fiscal stability.

I know from my 34 years in defense and industry that reaching a compromise can be tricky. In my capacity as Secretary of the Air Force, I’ve put my negotiation skills to use with Congress, international leaders, our sister services and industry partners. But my real passion is advocating for our nearly 664,000 active, Guard, Reserve and civilian airmen.

When it comes to collaborative negotiation, I’ve always followed five simple rules: Do your homework; tell the story; aim for a win-win; persevere; and keep your cool. These rules have served me well in both the public and private sector.

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