Cyber to appear In Better Buying Power 3.0

Defense Department acquisition chief Frank Kendall said the next generation of the Pentagon’s influential acquisition document, Better Buying Power 3.0, will take aim at cybersecurity.

“We worry about the weapons systems themselves and all of the connectivity they might have,” said Kendall, speaking at a Bloomberg Government forum on March 12, 2015. “These are ways in which a cyber threat can launch an attack, you can think of it as an attack surface, if you will.”

When the Pentagon rolled out its draft of Better Buying Power 3.0, it included eight categories and a number of subcategories, and cybersecurity was not one of them. The final version of the document was expected to be released in March; a new release date has not been set.

“We have a long way to go and I’m not sure where this trail will lead ultimately,” Kendall said of the cybersecurity effort, “but we absolutely have to do a better job of protecting everything about our weapons systems, birth to death.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/2015/03/13/cybersecurity-to-appear-in-better-buying-power-30/70271020/

House committee unveils DoD procurement reform bill

The House Armed Services Committee released a highly anticipated bill that is meant to streamline the Defense Department’s acquisition process and better train it’s procurement officers.

The legislation would focus on four areas of the acquisition process: workforce training, chain of command, streamlining reporting requirements and overall acquisition strategy.

“More than being monetarily wasteful, dysfunction in the acquisition process is sapping America’s technological edge and robbing our military of agility in the face of multiplying threats,” says Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) in a joint statement with committee ranking member Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.).

Thornberry went on to say the DoD’s acquisition system is slow and cumbersome and that it delivers “vital equipment years late that underperforms and is difficult and costly to maintain.”

The legislation (H.R.1597) would require procurement officers to be trained in the commercial market to close the knowledge gap between government and industry. It would also require ethics training specifically aimed at the acquisition process.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/hasc-unveils-dod-procurement-reform-bill/2015-03-30

Also see: http://www.govexec.com/defense/2015/03/house-defense-acquisition-reform-plan-seen-step-right-direction/108655/ 

Pentagon: The cost of major weapon systems are finally coming down

More than four years since Ashton Carter took on reforming Pentagon acquisition, the cost of the largest arms projects is beginning to stabilize, defense officials say.

Costs among the Defense Department’s largest arms programs are beginning to stabilize after years of overruns, a recent trend that Pentagon officials say is the result of an improvement project launched by now-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter more than four years ago.

Nearly 70 percent of the Pentagon’s 80 major procurement projects – valued at $1.6 trillion – are performing better than anticipated, and in many cases, have reduced costs compared to one year ago, said one senior Pentagon official who was not authorized to speak publicly.

“I think this is a good example compared to last year and then I think you’ll see it again,” the official said.

Costs are down because the military services have become more realistic when laying out schedules and funding for projects, according to the official. They are also doing a better job of making sure projects fit in long-term budget plans.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.defenseone.com/management/2015/03/pentagon-cost-major-weapons-systems-are-finally-coming-down/108000/

Even CBO is stumped on the size of the contractor workforce

How many contractor employees does the federal government rely on, at what cost per person, and how does that compare with the cost of assigning the same task to a full-time hire?

When asked by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., ranking member of the House Budget Committee, the Congressional Budget Office took a shot but left the $64,000 question unresolved.

“Regrettably, CBO is unaware of any comprehensive information about the size of the federal government’s contracted workforce,” the nonpartisan analysts wrote in response. “However, using a database of federal contracts, CBO determined that federal agencies spent over $500 billion for contracted products and services in 2012.”

Spending on contracting grew between 2000 and 2012 more quickly than inflation and as a percentage of total federal spending, the response said. The fastest-growing category in dollars was contracts for professional, administrative and management services, CBO wrote—the top-expanding category being medical services.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2015/03/even-cbo-stumped-size-contractor-workforce/107436/

DISA drops $16 billion contract after controversy

The Pentagon has pulled back its plans to award a$1.6 billion contract re-up to VMware after several companies protested the award in February.

The Defense Department’s cancellation of its joint enterprise licensing agreement with VMware allowed the Government Accountability Office to dismiss bid protests filed by Amazon Web Services, Citrix, Nutanix and Minburn Technology Group.

Those four companies contended the re-up was an improper sole-source request for cloud services that would have given VMware an unfair edge for DOD’s growing cloud demand.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/emerging-tech-blog/2015/03/disa-drops-16b-contract-after-controversy/107631

Ambitious plan to reshape federal contracting emerges at OFPP

A new vision has emerged among top Obama administration officials for how they want federal contracting to look in a few years:

  • Key categories of spending — information technology, professional services, construction, etc. — will be aggregated across agencies and managed by dedicated executives who will focus on smoothing out pricing variability, analyzing spending data to optimize procurement strategies, culling duplicative contracts, and negotiating better deals based on overall governmentwide demand.
  • New digital tools will help procurement agents navigate the myriad contracts available. Those tools will provide quick access to the range of prices being paid at other agencies for comparable products and services to ensure fair pricing.
  • Databases on spending across agencies will inform smarter procurement approaches that leverage government buying power.

Known as Category Management, the approach is used widely in industry and in the United Kingdom, say proponents like Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) Administrator Anne Rung.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/acquisition/policy/2015/03/16/data-driven-contracting-feature/24852905/

OFPP initiates 360-degree reviews of the acquisition process

Vendors now can really tell agencies how they feel about their acquisition processes and procedures.

The guidelines for Acquisition 360, a Yelp-like approach to rating the acquisition process, arrived last Wednesday from the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) Administrator Anne Rung. The nine-page memo details how agencies should seek customer feedback from contractors and internal stakeholders on how well the contracting process went for specific procurements.

“This effort is not intended to be used to rate individual contracting officers, program managers, or integrated project teams (IPTs), or to compare procuring offices generally, as the complexity of procurements varies greatly among agencies, and unexpected challenges can arise,” Rung wrote in the memo. “However, these tools are meant to help agencies identify strengths and weaknesses with industry partnerships so they can make internal improvements on the planning and making of contract awards.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/517/3821690/OFPP-initiates-360-degree-reviews-of-the-acquisition-process

AT&L chief provides guidance on appropriate use of LPTA source selection

The Department of Defense (DoD) Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L) Frank Kendall distributed a memorandum to his department’s acquisition professionals on March 4, 2015, providing guidance on when to use lowest-price technically-acceptable (LPTA) contracts.

Notably, the guidance also speaks about how to apply LPTA competitions to acquisitions for professional services.

Kendall’s memo says that DoD should not use LPTA if it is willing to pay more for superior performance.

The memorandum is comprehensive in that it speaks to the types of contracts that DoD may use in LPTA procurements, including fixed-price, time and materials, and cost-plus fixed-fee contracts.

“LPTA is the appropriate source selection process to apply,” Kendall states, “only when there are well-defined requirements, the risk of unsuccessful performance is minimal, price is a significant factor in the selection, and there is neither value, need, nor willingness to pay for higher performance.”  Kendall continues: “LPTA has a clear, but limited place in the source selection ‘best value’ continuum.”

Read the full AT&L memorandum at: https://www.pubklaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/LPTA-memo.pdf

 

Inspectors general feud over VA official’s alleged contract steering

Two federal watchdogs are feuding over the legitimacy of a scathing report last year on questionable contracts at the Department of Veterans Affairs, causing a rare rift between government accountability offices.

Treasury Department Inspector General Eric Thorson issued a letter to House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) last week contesting findings of misconduct by former VA procurement officer Iris Cooper, now a top contracting official with Treasury.

A report last year from VA Inspector General Richard Griffin accused Cooper of steering $15 million in contracts to a friend’s company and ensuring that the deals would be non-competitive. It also alleged that she showed a “lack of candor” with investigators.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2015/03/16/inspectors-general-feud-over-va-officials-alleged-contract-steering/

NASA launches ‘paper-less’ procurement packages

It’s not rocket science to know that digitizing paper-based processes can save money and time, but a NASA field center is setting an example for how to best tackle the task.

The Acquisition Division of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has digitized hundreds of thousands of documents as part of its plan to make the procurement process paperless. The project began as “Work Different” in October 2012, and 20 months later the Interactive Acquisition Network (IAN) was rolled out.

“We chose paper-less, not paper-free because there’s always going to be some amount of paper,” said Martin Johnson, manager of the Acquisition Strategic Planning Office.

IAN is built on three Microsoft tools that were already part of JPL: Office 2013, SharePoint 2013 and OneNote 2013. Working with the JPL Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), the division created a system that electronically manages from start to finish all procurement packages.

“Subcontract packages are built on OneNote template-driven forms, then routed though SharePoint workflow using InfoPath 2013 forms to gather reviews, comments and approvals,” Steve Simpson, the acquisition technical lead for Work Different, and Wayne Wong, an enterprise apps software engineer at JPL, wrote in an announcement.

Keep reading this article at: http://gcn.com/articles/2015/02/18/paperless-procurement-nasa.aspx