Midnight shutdown of federal government avoided

Con­gress has aver­ted a mid­night shut­down.

Budget Book Cover_2016The House of Representatives on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, September 30, fol­lowed the Sen­ate’s ex­ample by eas­ily passing a tem­por­ary spend­ing bill, fund­ing the federal gov­ern­ment through Decem­ber 11, 2015.

The stop-gap budget meas­ure passed the Sen­ate by a 78-20 vote.  The budget then cleared the House by 277-151.

Lockheed Martin’s new combat vehicle bid could redraw battle lines in defense industry

The battle lines in the defense industry are in the process of being redrawn, and the unveiling of Lockheed Martin’s Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) provides yet another example that the big players could be reshuffling.
Lockheed Martin has introduced its candidate for the new Amphibious Combat Vehicle.  Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed Martin has introduced its candidate for the new Amphibious Combat Vehicle. Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin.

At the Modern Day Marine Trade Show in Quantico on September 22nd, Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) formally introduced its entrant into the U.S. Marine Corps ACV competition.

The ACV is slated to replace the Marine Corps’ current aging fleet of Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV), land and sea vehicles with the capability to shuttle Marine forces in seafaring vessels ashore.

What’s particularly interesting about Lockheed Martin’s unveiling is that it is further a representation of the defense giant’s move to control a broader range of platforms in its defense portfolio.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/blog/fedbiz_daily/2015/09/lockheed-martins-new-combat-vehicle-bid-could.html

Federal contractors worry that a government shutdown would be a ‘nightmare’

Another government shutdown would be a “nightmare” for the federal contracting community, disrupting business, leaving employees wondering about furloughs and cutting corporate profits, according to area business leaders.

20131112_193738They are looking at the looming Sept. 30 deadline, by which Congress has to pass a spending plan, with a mix of angst and dread, while clinging to hope that a crisis will be averted, several executives said at a conference organized by the Professional Services Council, a trade group.

“There is a lot of concern because it’s completely out of their control,” said Alan Chvotkin, the PSC’s executive vice president and counsel.

While much of the attention to a possible shutdown has been focused on the hundreds of thousands of federal workers who would likely be affected, there would also be a major impact on the contractors who often work alongside their government counterparts and are essential to the daily operations of the federal government.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2015/09/21/federal-contractors-worried-that-government-shutdown-would-be-a-nightmare/

Army contractors to pay $1.45 million to settle bid-rigging allegations

PAE Government Services Inc. (PAE) and RM Asia (HK) Limited (RM Asia) have agreed to pay the United States $1.45 million to resolve allegations that they engaged in a bid-rigging scheme that resulted in false claims for payment under a U.S. Army contract for services in Afghanistan, the Justice Department has announced. 

PAE, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, provides integrated global mission services.  RM Asia, located in Hong Kong, provides motor vehicle parts and supplies.

Justice Dept. seal“Our national security and those of our allies depend on quality goods and services delivered at a fair price,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “Today’s settlement demonstrates our continuing vigilance to ensure that those doing business with the government do not engage in bidrigging or other anticompetitive conduct.”

ArmyIn 2007, the Army awarded PAE a contract to provide vehicle maintenance capabilities and training services for the Afghanistan National Army at multiple sites across Afghanistan.  PAE partnered with RM Asia to supply and warehouse vehicle parts.  The government alleged that former managers of PAE and RM Asia funneled subcontracts paid for by the government to companies owned by the former managers and their relatives by using confidential bid information to ensure that their companies would beat out other, honest competitors.

In a related criminal investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia previously obtained guilty pleas from former PAE program manager Keith Johnson; Johnson’s wife, Angela Gregory Johnson; and RM Asia’s former project manager, John Eisner, and deputy project manager, Jerry Kieffer, for their roles in the scheme.

“This resolution, following criminal charges that were also brought against the individuals involved, represents the government’s efforts to use all of the criminal and civil tools available to the government to remedy fraudulent conduct,” said U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia.

The allegations resolved by this settlement arose from a lawsuit filed by Steven D. Walker, a former employee of PAE, under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals to sue on behalf of the government for false claims and share in the recovery.  Mr. Walker will receive $261,000.

This case was handled by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the U.S. Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Command-Major Procurement Fraud Unit and the Defense Contract Audit Agency.

The lawsuit is captioned United States ex rel. Walker v. PAE, et al., 1:11CV382-LO/TCB (E.D. Va.).  The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.

Source: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/pae-government-services-and-rm-asia-hk-limited-pay-145-million-settle-claims-alleged-bid

New contingency contracting officers readying for possible deployment

A new group of contingency contracting officers is preparing to be among the first to deploy and provide expeditionary contracting support during the initial stages of future disaster and contingency operations.

The Joint Contingency Acquisition Support Office, part of Defense Logistics Agency Logistics Operations, created the cadre of 24 contracting officers after seeking volunteers from the agency’s contracting community early this year.

“This is a group of qualified, talented contracting officers who are dedicated to deploy anywhere in the world, whenever they’re needed,” said Charmaine Camper, director of JCASO’s Expeditionary Contracting Office.

Members of the Joint Contingency Acquisition Support Office, part of Defense Logistics Agency Logistics Operations, pose for a photo before kicking off weeklong training for 24 new contingency contracting officers.
Members of the Joint Contingency Acquisition Support Office, part of Defense Logistics Agency Logistics Operations, pose for a photo before kicking off weeklong training for 24 new contingency contracting officers.

Members received initial training in July and August on three core pillars: readiness, academics, and operational and battlefield preparation. The training plan incorporated lessons learned by expeditionary contracting officers Michaella Olson and Craig Hill while they were supporting Operation United Assistance in Africa, as well as JCASO members who deployed in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Readiness instruction covered administrative details such as passports, family care plans, life insurance, vaccines and financial plans.

“Even those who had deployment experience commented that this part of the training was something they’d never received before. These aren’t things that you can learn from a book; they’re the result of several people sharing their experiences, and every experience is going to be different,” Camper said.

What to pack was another key readiness topic. Olson described her first deployment as a contracting officer. She was a civilian working for the Navy, heading to Tonga for Pacific Partnership 2013 with five overstuffed suitcases.

“After I had to lug all five of those suitcases up three or four flights of stairs and through the airport during 36 hours’ worth of travel, I never did that again,” Olson said. She recommended carrying one bag and a backpack.

Under academics, students became familiar with the Defense Contingency Contracting Handbook, which covers subjects like contingency funding, contract oversight and foreign acquisition. Other topics included emergency acquisitions, local procurement and common-user logistics.

Though it’s fairly easy to predict what customers will need during the early phases of an operation, contracting officials often have to help fine tune those requirements, Hill said. While he was in Africa, for example, engineers issued an urgent request for nails to build Ebola treatment units because they weren’t strong enough to penetrate the hard wood they were working with.

“They knew they needed different nails, but they didn’t know how many or what size, so I had to work through those details with them,” he said. “Sometimes, when you get a customer’s requirement, you realize they haven’t thought it all the way through and you have to ask questions to get it right.”

Instruction on operational and battlefield preparation highlighted the importance of knowing who the key players are and their respective roles. Understanding J-codes and their primary functions is crucial, Camper said, as well as being aware of the various units and government agencies that are contributing to the operation.

“It’s not just a matter of being good at contracting. A large part of our work involves coordinating and synchronizing with others, so you have to know who’s who, what they bring to the table and how you tie into mission,” she said.

Being aware of cultural differences is also important, Olson added, especially when dealing with local contractors whose help is vital and can dramatically impact the mission. She and Hill advised contracting officers to reach out to U.S. State Department officials as early as possible to collect basic information such as general business rules, and do’s and don’ts, which vary from country to country.

“Embassy officials can usually do electronic fund transfers in order to pay a bill. We can actually leverage that support to do a local contract and pay locally,” Hill said. “That’s a powerful tool.”

Those who deploy in support of contingency operations or disasters must change their mindset to be successful, Camper added. In their regular jobs, DLA’s contracting officers work in garrison environments with desks, phones and other necessary tools.

“When you deploy, you’re probably going to be sleeping and working in a tent. Or you could be working in a room without a desk, with just your laptop and whatever phone we give you,” Camper told the group.

Denise Vogelei, a contracting officer for DLA Troop Support who is also a member of the new contingency contracting officer cadre, said parts of the training were surprising.

“I don’t think I understood the full depth of what I was getting myself into when I volunteered. The training not only prepared me to deploy to an austere environment, but to react quickly to mission requirements and be confident enough in my contracting skills to ensure the warfighters have what they need to succeed,” she said.

The training also broadened Vogelei’s view of what it takes to support disasters and contingencies. During Operation United Assistance, she and her team in Philadelphia conducted market research and expedited contracts for gloves.

“It was very rewarding for me to go to DLA Headquarters and meet the people we were supporting downrange. Now I can see the full circle and know that what we do here at Troop Support makes a big difference on the ground,” she said.

Contingency contracting officers have played a major role in the early stages of disaster support and contingency operations for decades. DLA has established this new capability to fill a gap in expeditionary and contingency contracting support, Camper said.

“During military operations, there’s a gap in between the phases of operation where you need people right away to start standing things up. That’s where DLA contingency contracting officers add value. We can get things started using working capital funds and then turn it over to the services,” she added.

The training will be followed by additional instruction and a field training exercise later this year.

Source: http://www.dla.mil/DLA_Media_Center/Pages/Newcontingencycontractingofficersreadyingforpossibledeployment.aspx

Click here for information on Georgia Tech’s course entitled Contracting Officer Representative and the Contingency Contracting Environment.