Stop order against contractor could significantly slow down background checks

The recent stop-work order that has prevented a major U.S. contractor from conducting background investigations could significantly impact the security clearance process, especially if it lasts for an extended period, industry officials said.

The stop-work order was issued Aug. 6 after USIS, the Falls Church, Va.-based company that does the bulk of the federal government’s contracted investigations, was hacked, potentially exposing the records of thousands of government employees.

Since then, the two agencies that suspended the work have been trying to shift the investigations to other contractors, or do them in-house, the Office of Personnel Management said in a statement.

But cases that had been assigned to USIS are “pending completion,” the OPM said. And the stop-work order can remain in place for up to 90 days.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/stop-order-against-usis-could-significantly-slow-down-background-checks/2014/09/01/755d2678-2f88-11e4-994d-202962a9150c_story.html

Pentagon considers spliting Air Force One contract to gain more competition

The U.S. Air Force will decide by December whether Boeing will have to share a multibillion-dollar project to provide the next Air Force One jetliner for the president, the service said.

The Air Force has budgeted $1.6 billion for research through 2019 and is “working toward release” of a request for proposals early next year with a schedule to purchase the first aircraft in fiscal 2016, according to spokesman Charles Gulick.

The military hasn’t ruled out buying 747-8 passenger planes from Chicago-based Boeing and then using other contractors to outfit them for the special needs of the presidential fleet. Airbus Group NV, the European aircraft company, said last year that it wouldn’t challenge Boeing to build the plane.

“The Air Force does not yet have an approved acquisition strategy,” and intends to present one “in fall 2014” for review by the Pentagon’s Defense Acquisition Board, Gulick said in an e-mailed statement.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20140828/BIZ/140829035/Air-Force-may-make-Boeing-share-work-on-presidential-planes

White House to agencies: Embrace offbeat methods for buying tech

With no plans to return to the moon anytime soon in NASA’s future, the space agency decided to challenge private sector teams, including small startups and academia, to come up with ways to safely land commercial lunar landers on the moon’s surface and transmit data back to Earth.

None of the six teams selected by NASA to compete for the Google Lunar X PRIZE — which carries total prize winnings of $30 million and a Dec. 31, 2015, deadline — is a “traditional” government contractor.

And the method NASA used for the process — a milestone-based competition combining the best attributes of a firm, fixed-price contract with the flexibility of an indefinite-delivery deal — wasn’t exactly the typical FedBizOpps posting, either.

But the point is — it worked.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2014/08/white-house-agencies-embrace-offbeat-methods-buying-tech/92051

Changes announced to GSA Schedules in professional services categories

The General Services Administration has announced a series of changes to its professional services Schedule offerings in order to reduce the number of contracts vendors manage and consolidate contract vehicles.

GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service removed the special item number of non-professional service from the current consolidated schedule, expect for information technology and human resources, the agency said last week.

Tiffany Hixson, professional services category executive for FAS, described the agency’s approach to contract consolidation last week ahead of this announcement (click here to read previous coverage).

GSA said it made the move to “eliminate the need to submit separate offers for professional services; firms would have the ability to submit a modification request instead – this equates to a substantial decrease in time required to add new services.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.executivegov.com/2014/09/gsa-details-professional-services-schedule-changes/

GSA’s OASIS contract cleared of bid protests

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) issued an official Notice to Proceed (NTP), effective Sept. 3, 2014, for One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS), a general contract procured through full and open competition among all interested businesses. As a result, both OASIS and OASIS Small Business (SB), GSA’s 100-percent small business set-aside contract, are ready for business, which means that agency customers can start using this solution set to address their complex professional services needs.

FAS Commissioner Tom Sharpe Said:  “OASIS and OASIS SB have already become the solutions of choice for some of our customers. These solutions have great potential to provide agencies with more flexible full-service contract vehicle options while driving down costs for the American taxpayer. The OASIS program will strengthen the federal government by minimizing contract duplication and improving efficiency, while also delivering solid benefits to the selected OASIS and OASIS SB industry partners and maximizing opportunities for small businesses.”

OASIS and OASIS SB have become the solution of choice for the United States Air Force. In December, the Air Force announced that it would use OASIS and OASIS SB for purchasing systems engineering services, research and development services, and a host of other complex professional services instead of creating three of its own multiple-award, Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts. These services had an estimated value of $1.4 billion. By using OASIS and OASIS SB, the Air Force will save years of effort, taxpayer dollars, and resources over the life of the contracts.

Key Facts

The issuance of an NTP means that federal agencies can begin using GSA’s OASIS contract solutions to purchase both commercial and non-commercial complex professional services. The NTP for OASIS Small Business (SB) was issued earlier this summer.   Recently, both the Court of Federal Claims (COFC) and Government Accountability Office denied several protests filed on OASIS allowing GSA to issue the notice.

OASIS and OASIS SB were developed in response to the government’s substantial need for a hybrid, government-wide acquisition vehicle, and are designed to reduce duplication of contracting efforts across the government and provide federal agencies with comprehensive, integrated professional services contract options.

GSA expects these solutions to provide customers with best value for complex professional service requirements.

To learn more about OASIS, visit www.gsa.gov/oasis where there are details on how to request a Delegation of Procurement Authority (DPA) and attend mandatory training.

Strengthening the workforce: DoD acquisition, requirements and results

“Defense acquisition is a human endeavor.”

These are familiar words to anyone who knows Frank Kendall, the Under Secretary for Defense Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, and what he sees as the heart of modernizing the DoD acquisition system.

Kendall and his staff have made notable improvements to the system in recent years, including the major focus on workforce professionalism, training and education initiatives undertaken by the Defense Acquisition University (DAU).

It’s no secret DoD has an abundance of rules and regulations. In a sequestration environment, which will be the greatest administrative challenge of the era for the Pentagon, the workforce and the people are the most important ingredient in the DoD acquisition recipe.

DoD’s Better Buying Power (BBP) mandate establishes “increased professional qualification requirements for all acquisition specialties.” With BBP 3.0 expected in a few months, Kendall reports the new version will work towards eliminating barriers to entry. He wants to build stronger relationships with the requirements, technology, warfighter and other communities. I participated in the recent Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) symposium, the inaugural event to highlight DoD’s BBP acquisition initiative and its application to government, industry and academia.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140829/BLG06/308290008/Strengthening-workforce-DoD-acquisition-requirements-results

Can the federal acquisition process support innovation?

There is widespread agreement that the federal government’s process for acquiring goods and services needs to change to enable agencies to keep with the rapid pace of technology development. But with more than 1,800 pages of rules and regulations governing that process—known as the Federal Acquisition Regulation—there is growing concern that the government cannot truly support innovation without a dramatic simplification of the rules.

“I think we can get there. To do that, I think we need additional changes in the FAR,” said Wolfe Tombe, chief technology officer at U.S Customs and Border Protection, in an exclusive interview with FedScoop. “I think the FAR needs to evolve to actually support innovation.”

According to Tombe, the federal acquisition process needs to be streamlined to remove existing obstacles to the private sector’s ability to interact with federal requirements managers. “Now we go out with a request for proposals and we’ll say what we think we need, and I think a lot of times there are vendors who could come back if the FAR allowed it, and [recommend better, more cost-effective solutions],” Tombe said. “The FAR needs to be redone so it enables that kind of interaction. It’s hard [for a vendor] to come back and say they have a better idea.”

Keep reading this article at: http://fedscoop.com/really-needs-done-acquisition-reform/

DOD releases RFP for $11 billion health record project

After more than a year of preparation, the Defense Department released its request for proposals for its new electronic health record (EHR) procurement on Aug. 25. The single-award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract is expected to have a total lifetime cost of $11 billion through 2030.

The Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization was created after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel scrapped a plan to combine DOD’s and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ EHR systems into a single solution in May 2013.

DHMSM seeks a single, commercial product to be adapted to the military’s unique set of needs and requirements, which include full interoperability with the VA’s VistA health records system and private-sector interoperability standards. It will reach a population of about 9.6 million service members, retirees and dependents.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/Articles/2014/08/26/DOD-DHMSM-RFP.aspx

Taming the wild west of cloud acquisition

For acquisition professionals, buying cloud computing is a bit like stepping from a 21st-century city into the Wild West. Federal buyers must move from the known, predictable, more or less standard procurement world into one that is unknown, unfamiliar and as yet untamed.

It’s no wonder that in ASI Government’s polls of acquisition professionals at 110 federal organizations, 64 percent of respondents believe they lack the necessary technical expertise in cloud computing and thus are challenged in structuring contracts for it.

“There’s no exact fit for commercial cloud in the [Federal Acquisition Regulation],” Mark Day, deputy assistant commissioner of the General Services Administration’s Office of Integrated Technology Services, told attendees at a March conference on cloud acquisition.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2014/08/26/acquisition-matters-cloud.aspx

Big win for Amazon: 1st provider authorized to handle sensitive DoD workloads in cloud

Amazon Web Services has become the first commercial cloud provider authorized to handle the Defense Department’s most sensitive unclassified data.

Today’s announcement that AWS has achieved a provisional authority to operate under DOD’s cloud security model at impact levels 3-5 is a major win for the company, as it allows DOD customers to provision commercial cloud services for the largest chunks of their data.

In technical speak, the provisional ATO granted by the Defense Information Systems Agency means DOD customers can use AWS’ GovCloud – an isolated region entirely for U.S. government customers – through a private connection routed to DOD’s network. DOD customers can now secure AWS cloud services through a variety of contract vehicles.

In layman’s terms, AWS is the first company with the ability to take any and all of DOD’s unclassified data to the cloud.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cloud-computing/2014/08/big-win-amazon-first-provider-authorized-handle-sensitive-dod-workloads/92069