VA cheated small businesses out of millions of dollars in contracts, whistleblower alleges

Small businesses, including veteran-owned businesses, have been cheated out of millions of dollars in federal contracts because the Department of Veterans Affairs failed to follow contracting laws.

US CongressThat’s the conclusion of members of Congress who have been investigating VA’s purchasing practices. The VA has been spending more than $6 billion a year on medical supplies without following contracting rules, such as a requirement to set aside purchases below $150,000 for small businesses, according to Jan Frye, the VA’s assistant secretary for acquisitions and logistics. Frye brought these issues to the VA’s top management, then turned whistleblower when he wasn’t satisfied with management’s reaction. Now he’s been a star witness at three congressional hearings on the matter.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/news/news-wire/2015/06/24/va-cheated-small-businesses-out-of-millions-of.html

No more charging strippers to Uncle Sam’s plastic

Federal employees who want to gamble or frequent strip clubs for an evening of fun will have to use their own credit cards to pay for it.

PcardAn amendment included in the House-passed fiscal 2016 Defense spending bill prohibits Defense civilian workers and military personnel from using government charge cards for expenses related to “gaming, or for entertainment that includes topless or nude entertainers or participants.”

The language specifically prohibits gaming, rather than any expenses at a casino, so lodging and meals, for example, would be exempt.

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., sponsored the amendment, which was adopted on voice vote. The House on Thursday passed the fiscal 2016 Defense spending bill. The full Senate has not yet considered its fiscal 2016 Defense appropriations legislation.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/management/2015/06/no-more-charging-strippers-uncle-sams-plastic/115174

See related story at: Senators Want GSA to Catch Feds Who Use Plastic at Strip Clubs

Pentagon contractor accused of overcharging millions

The federal government has alleged a military contractor overcharged it by at least $44 million for parts, labor and supplies on a multi-billion dollar contract for tens of thousands of trucks ordered by the Army’s acquisitions center based in Warren, MI.

TACOMFiling its complaint in U.S. District Court in Detroit, the Justice Department accused BAE Systems, the American subsidiary of a global defense and security contractor based in London, England, of “certifying and submitting false or fraudulent” prices to contracting officials at Michigan’s Army Tactical Command Life Cycle Management Command (TACOM).

“Private companies are entitled to earn an honest profit from procurement contracts with the U.S. government, but they may not knowingly overcharge the military for supplies and materials,” said U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade in Detroit. “The conduct alleged in this complaint is akin to charging $600 for a hammer.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/2015/06/19/tacom-bae-complaint/28982833/

White House wants to build digital-savvy contracting corps

The Obama administration is building a special squad of digital-savvy contracting officers to help agencies procure technology more effectively.

U.S. Digital ServiceThe new team will be modeled on the U.S. Digital Service, a similar effort to get more technologists into the ranks of government but will be staffed by existing agency contracting officers who undergo specialized training, Anne Rung, the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing this week.

Agency contracting offices often write exhaustively detailed statements of work that are often hundreds of pages long — and ask the same of companies when they submit proposals, Rung said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2015/06/white-house-wants-build-digital-savvy-contracting-corps/115183

Learn more about the U.S. Digital Service at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/digital/united-states-digital-service 

Military chiefs say they’re often blindsided by acquisition problems

Interviews with 12 current and former military service chiefs reveal strong dissatisfaction with their Pentagon acquisition colleagues, who too often change the requirements for weapons systems or demand additional capability, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

pentagon-seal“Some current and former service chiefs said that because they lack visibility into programs, they are unable to influence trade-offs between requirements and resources,” said the watchdog in a report released Thursday. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps chiefs said they are “frequently caught by surprise when cost, schedule, and performance problems emerge in programs.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/defense/2015/06/military-chiefs-say-theyre-often-blindsided-acquisition-problems/115177