Contractor overseeing HealthCare.gov steps down

The contractor responsible for the embattled HealthCare.gov website is stepping down from its role now that “our job has been completed.”

HHS“Having achieved the goal of making HealthCare.gov a stable and reliable platform for people seeking coverage, Optum will not rebid to continue the role of senior adviser,” Matt Stearns, a company spokesman, said in a Wall Street Journal article last week. Optum’s contract expires in July.

It was one of 33 contractors working on the $800 million website before it launched in October 2013. In that role, Optum set up the Data Services Hub, which handles band-end queries of federal databases, and the tool for handling initial sign-in data, according to a ModernHealthcare article.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovhealthit.com/story/contractor-overseeing-healthcaregov-steps-down/2015-05-18

VA official: Agency spent $5 billion on medical supplies without written contracts

The Veterans Affairs Department has procured billions of dollars worth of drugs, medical devices and other supplies without using written contracts or full and open competition.

VA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Acquisition and Logistics Jan Frye told the House Veterans Affairs subcommittee on oversight and investigations May 14 that agency leaders have wasted $5 billion on illegal medical procurements and made a “mockery” of federal acquisition laws.

VA sealFrye said VA spent about $1.2 billion on prosthetics bought using purchase cards without any written contracts. That happened over a year-and-a-half period concluding at the the end of last year.

This is all “due to our inexcusable failure to acquire a substantial quantity of goods and services in accordance with federal laws and regulations,” Frye said.

The purchase card abuse was particularly egregious to lawmakers on the subcommittee questioning Frye.

Edward Murray, VA’s acting assistant secretary for management, said the agency has about 25,000 purchase cards in circulation and they were used to make about $3.7 billion in purchases in 2014.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/va-official-agency-spent-5b-medical-supplies-without-written-contracts/2015-05-15

Senate defense bill lays out acquisition reforms

The Senate’s version of the $612 billion 2016 defense authorization bill that cleared committee on Thursday treats shortfalls in the acquisition system as a national security threat while pressuring the Pentagon to accelerate planned reductions in headquarters personnel.

US Congress“This is a reform bill,” said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz. “It tackles acquisition reform, military retirement reform, personnel reform, headquarters and management reform. This legislation delivers sweeping defense reforms that rise to the challenges of a more dangerous world. We identified $10 billion of excess and unnecessary spending from the defense budget, and we are reinvesting it in military capabilities for our warfighters and reforms that can yield long-term savings for the Department of Defense.”

The headquarters staff cuts and purchasing reforms differ slightly from the House version of the bill, which passed that chamber on Friday, May 15, 2015.

“An acquisition system that takes too long and costs too much is leading to the erosion of America’s defense technological advantage, which the United States will lose altogether if the department continues with business as usual. In short, our broken defense acquisition system is a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States,” a committee summary said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/defense/2015/05/senate-defense-bill-lays-out-acquisition-reforms-hq-personnel-cuts/113113

IGs creating ‘fearful paralysis’ among agencies, vendors

The number of successful investigations by inspectors general has more than doubled in 20 years. Does that meanRight Then Forward IGs are doing a better job weeding out waste, fraud and abuse in government, or are they creating mountains out of molehills?

Kymm McCabe, founder of ValueStorm Growth Partners, said the increased oversight is creating a “fearful paralysis” in the acquisition community.

“We’ve become so focused on using oversight to try to solve every problem, that folks are now just afraid,” McCabe said on In Depth with Francis Rose . “It’s really caused a freeze on communication.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/147/3851146/IGs-creating-fearful-paralysis-among-agencies-vendors

IG finds both agency implementation and SBA oversight of WOSB program to be flawed

Federal agencies’ contracting officers are awarding set-aside contracts without meeting the set-aside requirements associated with the Small Business Administration’s Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) program.   This finding, among others, appears in a report issued on May 14, 2015 by the SBA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).

SBA - IGThe OIG report states that as much as $7.1 million worth of contracts received by WOSBs in fiscal year (FY) 2014 may be improper.  For example, 10 of 34 WOSB set-aside awards were for ineligible work, and 9 of these 34 were awarded to firms that did not provide required documentation to prove they were eligible WOSBs.

In addition to the 9 WOSB awards that did not have any ownership or control documentation in the SBA’s WOSB Repository, the OIG identified 13 of 25 firms in their audit sample that uploaded only some — but not all — of the required documentation to the Repository, thus also bringing their program eligibility into question.

Additionally, 12 businesses did not provide sufficient documentation to prove that a woman or women controlled the day-to-day operations of their firms.  These firms, which received $8 million in contracts, also may be ineligible for their WOSB set-aside awards.

The OIG report is critical not only of agencies’ implementation of the federal WOSB program but also of SBA’s lax oversight.  Accordingly, OIG made five recommendations to the SBA’s Associate Administrator for Government Contracting and Business Development calling for improvements in how SBA manages and administers the WOSB program.

It should be noted that even before the OIG’s report, the SBA’s WOSB program already was slated to undergo some major programmatic changes based on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for both FY 2013 and 2015.  The NDAAs stipulated considerable increases SBA’s oversight responsibilities.  Specifically, the FY 2015 Act will: 1) grant contracting officers the authority to award sole-source awards to WOSB firms, 2) remove firms’ ability to self-certify, and 3) require firms to be certified.  The SBA is still determining how it will implement these mandated changes.

The OIG’s full report can be downloaded here: Improvements_Needed_in_SBAs_Management_of_WOSB_Program-OIG_Report_15-10