VA official investigated for fraud loses lucrative DOE gig

The Energy Department has withdrawn an offer to hire Susan Taylor, the Veterans Health Administration’s deputy chief procurement officer, because of an investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general that found Taylor violated numerous federal procurement laws and regulations.

In an email obtained by FedScoop dated Sept. 12 — two weeks before the VA’s IG report was made public — Thomas Johnson Jr., the associate deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and project management in DOE’s Office of Environmental Management, announced the selection of Taylor for the career senior executive service position of director of the Office of Procurement Planning, effective Oct. 5.

Two senior officials at DOE familiar with the situation but not authorized to comment publicly, however, confirmed to FedScoop that the offer has been withdrawn based on the VA IG report’s conclusions. “DOE is not hiring Ms. Taylor,” said one of the officials with detailed knowledge of the job offer.

Keep reading this article at: http://fedscoop.com/va-official-investigated-fraud-loses-lucrative-doe-gig

Reverse auctioneer FedBid slammed by VA inspector general

Executives at a popular federal reverse auction contractor have come under fire for taking “significant measures to disrupt and deprive” the Department of Veterans Affairs’ ability “to transact official business honestly and impartially, free from improper and undue influence.” The company and its executives could now face potential suspension or debarment from federal contracting.

In a damning 82-page report released Monday, the VA’s inspector general detailed an orchestrated campaign by FedBid executives to “assassinate” the character of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Acquisition and Logistics Jan Frye after he suspended the use of reverse auctions throughout the agency in 2012.  Investigators also found that Susan Taylor, VA’s deputy chief procurement officer at the Veterans Health Administration, abused her position and “improperly acted as an agent of FedBid in matters before the government.”

What started as an investigation into Taylor’s alleged interference with a review of the FedBid contract soon led the IG to discover Taylor had been giving FedBid preferential treatment, going so far as to disclose proprietary information and pressure contracting staff to award a task order for reverse auction services to FedBid. Although the IG referred the matter to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution, DOJ did not press charges and recommended VA take administrative actions.

Keep reading this article at: http://fedscoop.com/reverse-auctioneer-fedbid-censured-va-inspector-general-report/

Senior VA official pressured employees to award FedBid contracts

A Veteran’s Health Administration procurement executive pressured employees and worked the acquisition system to award FedBid contracts for reverse-auctions, a Sept. 26 Veteran’s Affairs Department inspector general report says.

The report says Susan Taylor, VHA’s deputy chief procurement officer, in 2010 pressured staff repeatedly in emails to speed up the acquisition process and pick FedBid – a Vienna, Va. based reverse auction vendor – for the reverse auction contracts.

The 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.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/va-ig-senior-official-pressured-employees-award-fedbid-contracts/2014-09-30

DoD will empower military branches to directly procure cloud services

The Defense Department is changing its approach to procuring cloud services, moving away from a two-year-old policy designating the Defense Information Systems Agency as the department’s de facto cloud broker.

In a new memo expected to be released by the end of October, the department’s new policies will grant cloud-buying power to the military services, according to officials. The new guidelines direct military officials to provide the DoD CIO office with detailed business case analyses for cloud decisions, while also complying with acquisition requirements and evolving cybersecurity mandates.

The forthcoming memo will replace the 2012 cloud strategy released by then-DoD CIO Teri Takai.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140924/FEDIT01/309240020/DoD-will-empower-military-branches-directly-procure-cloud-services

Hagel’s right-hand man on acquisition reform

Hagel needed to accompany President Barack Obama to Tampa, Florida, for a briefing at U.S. Central Command about the now-underway airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria. Hagel needed a trusted confidant to fill in for him at the Air Force Association conference in Maryland, so he turned to Frank Kendall, the Defense Department’s undersecretary for acquisition.

Hagel’s choice in Kendall to deliver the remarks he had already penned is the latest in a series of actions that demonstrates the close relationship two have developed over the past year, defense officials close to both men say.

Moreover, the relationship has helped elevate Kendall’s acquisition reform – or as he prefers to say, “acquisition improvement” – initiatives, the latest of which was unveiled last week.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.defenseone.com/management/2014/09/hagels-right-hand-man-acquisition-reform/95048/

Former GSA official Jeff Neely indicted for fraudulent claims

A former high-ranking official General Services Administration official has been indicted for making fraudulent reimbursement claims.

Jeff Neely, the former region nine administrator at GSA, organized a lavish 2010 Las Vegas conference that cost almost $823,000 and prompted an investigation that forced the resignation of top officials at the agency and the firing of several others. He told conference organizers he wanted the conference to be “over the top.”

Neely was indicted by a federal grand jury for making fraudulent reimbursement claims for personal travel and expenses on trips to Las Vegas, California, Guam and Saipan. Neely told employees those expenses were for official business.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140926/MGMT/309260014/Former-GSA-official-indicted-fraudulent-claims

Agencies and industry prepare for new contract

While waiting for the Homeland Security Department’s next IT acquisition vehicle to become fully operational, agencies and businesses are preparing for takeoff.

Vendors awarded contracts on the Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge Solutions II are participating in industry groups to learn more about requirements, promoting the vehicle to customers, strengthening their own capabilities to distinguish themselves from competitors, and maintaining partner relationships.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140904/ACQ03/309040011/Agencies-industry-prepare-new-contract

Reps ask GSA to affirm commitment to AbilityOne

The letter comes in the wake of a move by GSA earlier this year to decentralize some of their distribution methods, contracting with vendors to handle parts of the supply chain. The National Industries for the Blind, which the GSA formerly contracted through directly, initiated the letter from congressional representatives to remind the agency of its legal commitments under the Javits-Wagner-O’Day (JWOD) Act and AbilityOne program.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140919/ACQ01/309190015/Reps-ask-GSA-affirm-commitment-AbilityOne

Contracting officers: Take a look, it’s in a book

A bill to reform how the government buys and manages technology came up this week at a hearing about the security of HealthCare.gov — but contracting officers willing to plunge into some heavy reading may discover they already have a lot of the capability they need.

While Republicans grilled Obamacare officials about a recent hack — and other vulnerabilities — of their signature website, one Democrat used the occasion to plug what may be his favorite piece of pending legislation: The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, or FITARA.

“Isn’t information security related to how well we’re managing our IT assets?” Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., asked officials. He gave a brief description of what FITARA would do for IT managers; the bill actually has plenty of support and seems only to await action.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/emerging-tech-blog/2014/09/you-already-have-power-procure-it-look-within/94607/

The GSA Digital Service’s TechFAR Handbook can be found at: https://github.com/WhiteHouse/playbook/blob/gh-pages/_includes/techfar-online.md

DoD to gather feedback on new military tech acquisition guidance

The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer formally released a draft of his proposed new guidance for acquisition reform last week, calling for a renewed focus on research and innovation to maintain the increasingly tenuous lead that the US holds in military technology over its adversaries.

Administration officials — including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel — have been telegraphing elements of the strategy for weeks, even though the final plan won’t be finished for months.

Speaking with a handful of reporters at the Pentagon on Sept. 16, the man leading the charge — Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics —said that the white paper he released on Friday is only the first full public airing of the proposed strategy.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140919/DEFREG02/309190019/Pentagon-Unveils-Draft-New-R-D-Strategy-Waits-Industry-Hill-Weigh-In