Air Force claims $2 billion in acquisition savings from ‘should-cost’ management

The concept of “should-cost” management was a key component of the first version of the Defense Department’s Better Buying Power program when it was first rolled out almost five years ago.

But the Air Force’s top acquisition official said the idea hasn’t been forgotten: his service has used it to cut programs’ actual costs by an estimated $2 billion over the last several years, with more potential savings to come.

Should-cost is not strictly a new idea in government procurement. It’s been codified in the Federal Acquisition Regulation for decades, but it wasn’t until 2010 that the Pentagon ordered the military services to use it in all of their major acquisitions. In a nutshell, it requires program managers to set-aside the historically-based independent cost estimates that are developed for all big programs and that DoD is required to base its budgets on, and instead, manage their programs according to what they ought to cost.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/395/3802526/Air-Force-claims-2-billion-in-acquisition-savings-from-should-cost-management

GSA Schedules and DoD’s confusing FAR 8.4 deviation

On March 13, 2014, Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy (DPAP) issued a class deviation to FAR 8.404(d). This deviation directed that ordering activity contracting officers are responsible for making a determination of fair and reasonable pricing when using GSA’s Federal Supply Schedules (FSS). The deviation essentially incorporates complex FAR 15.404-1 price analysis techniques into the streamlined FSS ordering procedures with the vague caveat that the complexity and circumstances of each acquisition should determine the level of detail of the analysis required.

In discussing the rationale for this deviation, DPAP has consistently focused on the variation in pricing across the FSS program. In particular, the example of a $29 stapler listed on an FSS contract has been cited by DPAP as creating a “significant” risk that Department of Defense (DoD) contracting officers will simply order the $29 stapler rather than search for a cheaper stapler on another FSS contract. For those of us of a certain age, the use of this example reminds one of the $600 toilet seat reportedly purchased by the DoD back in the 1980s. Like the toilet seat purchase, however, there is greater context that undercuts the stapler example cited by DPAP.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/acquisition/blog/2015/02/13/gsa-advantage-dpap-far-waldron/23365305/

IT buying experiments preview ‘Acquisition of the Future’

“Acquisition of the Future” is an initiative that seeks to frame a vision in which acquisition creates significant new value for the government through fresh approaches, modern technologies and a new generation’s capabilities.

Participants include a growing number of federal executives, industry leaders, notable academics and rising acquisition professionals who have been meeting since 2013 to create a framework for what federal acquisition can become, to meet the demands of the Collaboration Age — and beyond.

Acquisition of the Future supporters are continuing their quest to find and capture real-world examples that uncover emerging trends. AOF leverages these initiatives to demonstrate the new value that vibrant, forward-focused federal acquisition can provide, and that model the strategic decision-making and investments required now to transform the future.

Especially in the realm of information technology, such experiments are emerging everywhere. That’s not surprising, because technology is one of the chief disruptors driving change and creating higher expectations in government, society, industry and our economy. Because IT is evolving so rapidly, government has difficulty acquiring, modernizing and maintaining it in a way that keeps pace with innovation and commercial best practices. And current government buying processes and culture make it difficult for agencies to keep apprised and take advantage of the pace of technological innovation. Consequently, IT is a hotbed of acquisition experimentation.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2015/01/22/preview-acquisition-of-the-future.aspx

AF lifts suspension of reverse auctioneer FedBid

Just a few weeks after the Air Force suspended contracts with FedBid, a Vienna, Va. reverse-auction company and requested the company’s debarment, the service lifted the suspension after reaching an administrative agreement, according to a Feb. 20, 2015 Air Force document.

The suspension stems from a Veterans Affairs Department inspector general report that said Susan Taylor, Veterans Health Administration deputy procurement officer, pressured staff repeatedly in emails to speed up the acquisition process and pick FedBid for the reverse auction contracts.

The IG report says Taylor, “improperly disclosed non-public VA information to unauthorized persons, misused her position and VA resources for private gain, and engaged in a prohibited personnel practice when she recommended that a subordinate senior executive service employee be removed from SES during her probation period.”

The agreement will end both the suspension and debarment proceedings as long as FedBid “maintains the business honesty and integrity required of a government contractor and that the company operates in strict compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and terms of its governance contracts and subcontracts.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/air-force-lifts-suspension-fedbid/2015-02-23

High risk list: Government IT acquisitions fail ‘too frequently’

The new federal chief information officer, Tony Scott, has his work cut out for him. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today is adding information technology acquisition to its high-profile list of “high-risk” federal programs.

Despite a raft of reforms over the course of the Obama administration, “federal IT investments too frequently fail or incur cost overruns and schedule slippages while contributing little to mission-related outcomes,” the 2015 update to GAO’s High-Risk List states.

The government has wasted billions on botched IT projects that fail to deliver promised – or any – functionality and have been mothballed. Even more programs are still on the books, but remain at risk of falling behind. And hundreds of watchdog recommendations for improving the state of federal IT acquisitions have gone unaddressed.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2015/02/high-risk-list-government-it-projects-fail-too-frequently/105063

Fixing acquisition: An opportunity lost?

We’ve spent more than a decade ignoring a simple warning of the 2002 Volcker Commission: We are trying to run a 21st century government on a mid-20th century, industrial age business model. A series of surveys of acquisition professionals the Professional Services Council and Grant Thornton have conducted during the last 12 years have consistently flagged the implications of that omission for the federal acquisition workforce. Our 2014 survey, released Jan. 22, shows that the government remains mired in old models. This should be disturbing to anyone who recognizes the critical role acquisition plays in the execution of the government’s missions.

Consider this: In all seven surveys, respondents—who are all government personnel, many from the senior echelons of the workforce—overwhelmingly identified general business acumen, risk identification and mitigation, negotiating skills and knowledge of buying complex technology capabilities as significant gaps in the federal acquisition workforce’s skills. Other, more obvious forces were also identified as inhibiting optimal performance—including the budget insanity that has made it nearly impossible for any agency to optimize operations during the last several years—but the general conclusion has been the same for almost the entire time we have been conducting this survey. Simply put, the workforce does not have the skills needed to do the job as well as everyone wants, and demands. This not a failure of the workforce, but of our collective slowness to recognize the need for major change in how we train, educate and support that workforce.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2015/01/fixing-acquisition-opportunity-lost/104070

GAO’s ‘high-risk list’ now includes IT acquisition

The Government Accountability Office’s High-Risk List, which calls Congress’ attention to problematic, risky or troubled programs, is about to receive two high-profile additions.

Multiple Capitol Hill sources with knowledge of the list confirmed to Nextgov that IT acquisition and operations and veteran health care are being included on the watchdog’s list.

The news is hardly surprising, given the steady stream of criticism and negative headlines those two areas have generated since GAO last updated its biennial High-Risk List in February 2013.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2015/02/it-acquisition-and-veteran-health-care-added-gaos-high-risk-list/104832/

‘Fat Leonard’ contracting scandal jams up dozens of US Navy flag moves

It was a festive day at the U.S. Naval Academy last July 23 as the US Navy’s top leadership gathered in Annapolis, Maryland, for a change of command and retirement ceremony. Vice Adm. Mike Miller was ending a four-year tour as academy superintendent and retiring with honors after a 40-year career.

Except that when the hoopla died down, Miller wasn’t allowed to leave the service just yet. Even though his official online biography reads “retired,” he’s still being carried on the Navy’s active-duty rolls — at a reduced two-star level. And although he has no specific job — or billet, in Navy-speak — he counts against the service’s allocated total of 219 admirals.

Defense officials said Miller is one of an estimated three dozen flag officers under federal investigation for potential wrongdoing in the Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) case, also known as the “Fat Leonard” affair, after the nickname of the company’s leader, Leonard Glenn Francis.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/naval/navy/2015/02/08/navy-gdma-glenn-defense-marine-asia-fat-leonard-scandal-investigation-justice-admirals-flags/22978631

GSA wants to boost market share of Schedules to 33 percent of federal spending

The General Services Administration (GSA) is exploring different ways to boost its contract spending market share and enhance its Multiple Awards Schedule program, according to agency officials.

Tom Sharpe, the commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service at GSA, said he wants to boost the agency’s market share of federal spending from 15 percent to 33 percent in three years.

New contract vehicles such as the OASIS contract for professional services and the move to a “category management” system of expert contract advisers will help, Sharpe said.

He said at a GSA industry forum Feb. 13, hosted by the Professional Services Council, that the agency might roll out more versions of OASIS in the future for other contract areas besides professional services.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/acquisition/gsa-gwac/2015/02/13/gsa-changes-schedules/23359425/

What military contractors can learn from the Pentagon’s 2016 budget

From the outside, the Pentagon’s budget looks relatively similar that the plan the Defense Department laid out one year ago. But upon closer inspection, President Barack Obama’s budget request gives a glimpse into how the military will look decades from now.

A number of new research-and-development projects could lead to major, multibillion weapon programs down the road. As such, defense firms are paying close attention to these projects.

“This budget does show some priorities,” said Roman Schweizer, an analyst with Guggenheim Securities.

DOD is looking to the latter part of this decade as a time to get back to basics and invest for the future.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2015/02/what-military-contractors-can-learn-pentagons-2016-budget/104505