DHS, OPM suspend contracts with USIS after major cyber attack

Peter Boogaard, a DHS spokesman, would not confirm the identity of the contractor but said that a multiagency cyber response team is working to identify the scope of the attack and how many employees were affected.

He said the agency has determined that some DHS personnel have had their personal information compromised and the agency has notified its entire workforce to monitor their financial accounts for suspicious activity.

“As we continue to investigate the nature of this breach on an urgent basis, we will be notifying specific DHS employees whose [personally identifiable information] we can determine was likely compromised.”

Keep reading this article at:  http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140807/IT/308070009/DHS-OPM-suspend-contracts-USIS-after-major-cyber-attack 

Executive order will mandate federal contractors report labor law violations

Contractors will have to report any labor law violations to federal agencies under an executive order signed by President Obama July 31, 2014.

Contractors will need to disclose any labor law violations from the past three years before a contract can be awarded to them. Violations include family and medical leave, collective bargaining and wages.

The order would also charge agencies with taking contractor labor law violations into account when awarding contracts.

Only contracts valued at more than $500,000 would be affected and the order will be implemented in 2016.

The order also lays out rules for agencies and contractors.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/executive-order-will-mandate-federal-contractors-report-labor-law-violation/2014-08-04

DHS contractor suffers major computer breach, officials say

A major U.S. contractor that conducts background checks for the Department of Homeland Security has suffered a computer breach that probably resulted in the theft of employees’ personal information, officials said Wednesday.

The company, USIS, said in a statement that the intrusion “has all the markings of a state-sponsored attack.”

The breach, discovered recently, prompted DHS to suspend all work with USIS as the FBI launches an investigation. It is unclear how many employees were affected, but officials said they believe the breach did not affect employees outside the department. Still, the Office of Personnel Management has also suspended work with the company “out of an abundance of caution,” a senior administration official said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/dhs-contractor-suffers-major-computer-breach-officials-say/2014/08/06/8ed131b4-1d89-11e4-ae54-0cfe1f974f8a_story.html

What’s being said about the Academy’s GSA workshop?  ‘Fantastic!’

The GSA Schedule Proposal Preparation Workshop — presented by Georgia Tech’s Contracting Education Academy — continues to get rave reviews from everyone who’s attended.

The most recent Workshop was held in July on Georgia Tech’s Midtown Atlanta campus.  Here’s what the attendees had to say:

  • “I received a vast amount of information on how to apply for a GSA Schedule contract.  I valued the one-on-one question-answering provided by the instructors.”
  • “I expected a canned presentation consisting of a lot of theoretical advice, but I received practical and specific help to understand the GSA application.  I really valued the instructor’s knowledge and communication skills.”
  • “This workshop provided excellent advice and training, walking through all the documents in detail.  I valued the relaxed environment, the ability to work at my own pace, and the ability to ask lots of questions.”
  • “I now have a complete understanding of the step-by-step process to complete my company’s proposal to the GSA.  The workbook, examples, templates, and the presentation – all very well put together.”
  • “I expected a great presentation from Georgia Tech, but was afraid of information overload.  The presenter and the presentation were fantastic …. I now have a much clearer idea of how to get on a GSA Schedule.”
  • “I received one-on-one assistance with filling-out various proposal forms and walking through the submission and upload process.  Fantastic!”
  • “I received significant information and background on what GSA reviewers and contracting officers are looking for, and I valued the forms for completing my GSA Schedule proposal and building my pricing.”

So far, 45 persons have attended Georgia Tech’s GSA Workshop since it was launched at the beginning of the year.  To date, every single businessperson has either prepared their proposal or submitted it to GSA for award.

Is your company considering going after a GSA Schedule contract?  Maybe you should consider these facts:

  • The federal General Services Administration (GSA) awards about $50 billion in blanket contracts known as “Schedules” to hundreds of companies each year.
  • Eighty percent (80%) of Schedule contractors are small businesses who are successful at 36% of those sales.

The process to win a GSA Schedule contract begins with a proposal, an arduous task that often takes several months to prepare. But, now, thanks to Georgia Tech’s Workshop, a GSA proposal can be actually completed during the Workshop.   If a business is not prepared to submit all the documentation at the time of the Workshop, the GSA proposal preparation process easily can be shortened to within 30 days following the Workshop.

By attending Georgia Tech’s GSA Schedule Proposal Preparation Workshop, you will:

  • Save time and money with an instructor-guided, do-It-yourself approach.
  • Avoid mistakes that can delay or stop a GSA Schedule proposal from being considered.
  • Receive expert guidance, valuable instruction, and answers to all of your questions.
  • Be given access to exclusive templates and sample narratives based on successful GSA Schedule offers.
  • Receive up to 4 hours of consulting after the Workshop to review your package and receive further advice.
  • Earn 15 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits.

The next Georgia Tech GSA Schedule Workshops are scheduled for:

  • Sept. 8-9 – Atlanta
  • Nov. 17-18 – Atlanta

To register, simply click here. If you have questions or need further information, please email info@ContractingAcademy.gatech.edu.

GSA Schedule Contract

Federal agencies falling short in providing accurate, complete federal award data, GAO says

Information about grants and loans found on a federal awards website isn’t as reliable as it should be, said congressional investigators, adding that greater oversight is needed.

The Government Accountability Office said agencies provided incomplete and inaccurate information about such assistance awards — totaling about $619 billion — on USASpending.gov, a publicly accessible website designed to improve transparency and accountability on federal spending.

However, GAO noted in its report released Aug. 1 that agencies largely provided complete information about awarded government contracts.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/federal-agencies-falling-short-providing-accurate-complete-federal-award-da/2014-08-03

‘We’ve got to stop throwing Hail Marys’

The future of federal IT contracting could look a lot like the environment at Google and other high-tech companies, where cutting costs and boosting efficiencies are as routine as breathing. But, say former and current procurement officials, winning the future will still involve knowing the nitty-gritty of what an agency is trying to accomplish with its IT contracts.

Being able to act quickly and effectively in the face of technology that has outpaced government’s ability to buy it effectively is a constant challenge, according to panel discussions at the National Contract Managers Association’s 2014 conference in Washington on July 28. In the face of similar challenges, private industry has adopted shorter development cycles coupled with more agile techniques.

If we want real innovation, we need to stop looking for ways to circumvent the federal acquisition system and work together to improve it, writes Stan Soloway.

Federal agencies are just beginning to do the same.

“We’ve got to stop throwing ‘Hail Marys” at large federal IT projects, Joe Jordan, former administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and now president of public sector at FedBid, said during a panel on technology’s impact on acquisition. “It’s got to be broken up into five- to 10-yard passes.”

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/Articles/2014/07/28/No-more-Hail-Marys.aspx?Page=1&p=1

DOD stresses testing, evaluation improvements

Although “test and evaluation” is far from the most glamorous piece of the defense acquisition puzzle, Pentagon officials are making the case that it is one of the most important.

As part of the Better Buying Power 2.0 initiative unveiled more than a year ago, the Defense Department is emphasizing test and evaluation earlier in the acquisition process in an effort to keep contractors better informed about what the department expects on projects.

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Darlene Costello

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Darlene Costello

Conducting tests and defining project requirements earlier in the acquisition cycle were priorities in developing DOD’s most recent guidance to industry, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Darlene Costello said at a July 23 conference in Washington hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association. That guidance was developed by Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall, the senior DOD official leading the department’s attempts to make buying weapons, IT and everything else less costly and more efficient.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2014/07/23/dod-stresses-testing.aspx

What needs to be fixed in the FAR?

A recent Federal Computer Week story by Mark Rockwell, “Teaching feds not to fear the FAR,” has gotten a fair amount of attention in the Twittersphere and is definitely worth reading.

It discusses a number of efforts underway — including a “Buyer’s Club” led by Health and Human Services Chief Technology Officer Bryan Sivak and a TechFAR document being prepared at the Office of Federal Procurement Policy under the leadership of the indefatigable Mathew Blum — to lower the fear factor in the government IT community around the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and to emphasize flexibilities available in the regs.

These are very good efforts that deserve support. Many new and exciting procurement techniques, such as contests and crowdsourcing, are — as those quoted in Rockwell’s article note — already permitted by the FAR. The government can access some crowdsourcing websites for less than $3,000, which means services there can be purchased without further ado using a government credit card.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/blogs/lectern/2014/07/fixing-the-far.aspx

See article entitled “Teaching feds not to fear the FAR” at: http://contractingacademy.gatech.edu/2014/07/teaching-feds-not-to-fear-the-far/

 

Contractors group would restructure White House procurement shop

Citing a “human capital crisis” in a federal workforce beset by retirements and inexperience, a major contractors group on Monday proposed acquisition reforms that would speed up the procurement process, enhance industry-agency collaboration and reorganize the White House Office of Federal Procurement Policy to improve workforce training.

The Professional Services Council’s report joins an array of acquisition reform efforts under way in the executive branch and on Capitol Hill in addressing the need to create contracting officers with a more sophisticated grasp of industry trends in services contracting, particularly in information technology.

“We need to fundamentally rethink the workforce, to create a unified vision across government,” said Stan Soloway, president and CEO of the council, which represents 375 member companies. “It will affect everything from how we prosecute wars to how we operate our business systems. The time for incremental or tactical change has long passed.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2014/07/contractors-group-would-restructure-white-house-procurement-shop/89870/

Read the full report by and recommendations of the Professional Services Council at: The PSC Acquisition and Technology Policy Agenda – 07.28.2014

OFPP nominee lays out agenda

Anne Rung, President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP), told lawmakers that she wants to “break down the barriers” that stall innovation in federal acquisition.

At a brisk, sparsely attended confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on July 24, the former chief acquisition officer at the General Services Administration also cited as priorities better category management and giving the acquisition workforce the tools it needs to succeed.

Rung said she is particularly interested in creating topic specialization for acquisition officials. Often people who are buying pens and pencils for their agency are also tasked with major IT purchases.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2014/07/24/ofpp-nominee-agenda.aspx