IG: USPS facility nearly 4 months late paying contractors

The Postal Service made payments nearly four months late to contractors shipping mail out of the Indianapolis processing and distribution facility, a recently released USPS inspector general report says.

The distribution center did not process about $74,000 in exceptional service payments in a timely manner over the eight month period from June 2013 through January 2014, the report says. The Postal Service gives bonuses to contractors who provide exceptional service, including changes in normally scheduled transportation operations including extra trips and late leaving trips.

“Management stated that contractors were alarmed by the frequency and amount of payments the Postal Service owed them and were looking for assistance to resolve these payment issues,” the report says.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/ig-usps-facility-nearly-4-months-late-paying-contractors/2014-08-06

Recommendations for DoD acquisition reform focus on 7 areas

The Defense Department added its voice to a growing list of associations and lawmakers with ideas on how to improve the military’s acquisition process.

DoD’s ideas center less on what Congress can do and more on what it shouldn’t do.

Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, sent a letter to Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) back in June detailing seven areas where he thinks DoD needs help to improve acquisition outcomes.

For the first time publicly today at the AFCEA Acquisition Modernization conference in Washington, Kendall highlighted his seven recommendations.

Kendall said the biggest thing Congress could do is end the threat of sequestration in 2016 and beyond.

“2013 was a nightmare year. We actually implemented sequestration well into the year. We bought ourselves a little time with the deal that got us through 2014 and presumably through 2015. It’s coming right back in 2016,” he said. “We are working on the budget right now. The services are finalizing their [budget plans], and we will go through an exercise this fall where we will have to look at what the President will submit and something that is compliant with sequestration to see what the damage is. The damage is huge.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/394/3676550/Kendall-shapes-DoD-acquisition-reforms-around-7-areas-

DHS, OPM suspend contracts with USIS after major cyber attack

Peter Boogaard, a DHS spokesman, would not confirm the identity of the contractor but said that a multiagency cyber response team is working to identify the scope of the attack and how many employees were affected.

He said the agency has determined that some DHS personnel have had their personal information compromised and the agency has notified its entire workforce to monitor their financial accounts for suspicious activity.

“As we continue to investigate the nature of this breach on an urgent basis, we will be notifying specific DHS employees whose [personally identifiable information] we can determine was likely compromised.”

Keep reading this article at:  http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140807/IT/308070009/DHS-OPM-suspend-contracts-USIS-after-major-cyber-attack 

Executive order will mandate federal contractors report labor law violations

Contractors will have to report any labor law violations to federal agencies under an executive order signed by President Obama July 31, 2014.

Contractors will need to disclose any labor law violations from the past three years before a contract can be awarded to them. Violations include family and medical leave, collective bargaining and wages.

The order would also charge agencies with taking contractor labor law violations into account when awarding contracts.

Only contracts valued at more than $500,000 would be affected and the order will be implemented in 2016.

The order also lays out rules for agencies and contractors.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/executive-order-will-mandate-federal-contractors-report-labor-law-violation/2014-08-04

DHS contractor suffers major computer breach, officials say

A major U.S. contractor that conducts background checks for the Department of Homeland Security has suffered a computer breach that probably resulted in the theft of employees’ personal information, officials said Wednesday.

The company, USIS, said in a statement that the intrusion “has all the markings of a state-sponsored attack.”

The breach, discovered recently, prompted DHS to suspend all work with USIS as the FBI launches an investigation. It is unclear how many employees were affected, but officials said they believe the breach did not affect employees outside the department. Still, the Office of Personnel Management has also suspended work with the company “out of an abundance of caution,” a senior administration official said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/dhs-contractor-suffers-major-computer-breach-officials-say/2014/08/06/8ed131b4-1d89-11e4-ae54-0cfe1f974f8a_story.html

Federal agencies falling short in providing accurate, complete federal award data, GAO says

Information about grants and loans found on a federal awards website isn’t as reliable as it should be, said congressional investigators, adding that greater oversight is needed.

The Government Accountability Office said agencies provided incomplete and inaccurate information about such assistance awards — totaling about $619 billion — on USASpending.gov, a publicly accessible website designed to improve transparency and accountability on federal spending.

However, GAO noted in its report released Aug. 1 that agencies largely provided complete information about awarded government contracts.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/federal-agencies-falling-short-providing-accurate-complete-federal-award-da/2014-08-03

‘We’ve got to stop throwing Hail Marys’

The future of federal IT contracting could look a lot like the environment at Google and other high-tech companies, where cutting costs and boosting efficiencies are as routine as breathing. But, say former and current procurement officials, winning the future will still involve knowing the nitty-gritty of what an agency is trying to accomplish with its IT contracts.

Being able to act quickly and effectively in the face of technology that has outpaced government’s ability to buy it effectively is a constant challenge, according to panel discussions at the National Contract Managers Association’s 2014 conference in Washington on July 28. In the face of similar challenges, private industry has adopted shorter development cycles coupled with more agile techniques.

If we want real innovation, we need to stop looking for ways to circumvent the federal acquisition system and work together to improve it, writes Stan Soloway.

Federal agencies are just beginning to do the same.

“We’ve got to stop throwing ‘Hail Marys” at large federal IT projects, Joe Jordan, former administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and now president of public sector at FedBid, said during a panel on technology’s impact on acquisition. “It’s got to be broken up into five- to 10-yard passes.”

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/Articles/2014/07/28/No-more-Hail-Marys.aspx?Page=1&p=1

DOD stresses testing, evaluation improvements

Although “test and evaluation” is far from the most glamorous piece of the defense acquisition puzzle, Pentagon officials are making the case that it is one of the most important.

As part of the Better Buying Power 2.0 initiative unveiled more than a year ago, the Defense Department is emphasizing test and evaluation earlier in the acquisition process in an effort to keep contractors better informed about what the department expects on projects.

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Darlene Costello

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Darlene Costello

Conducting tests and defining project requirements earlier in the acquisition cycle were priorities in developing DOD’s most recent guidance to industry, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Darlene Costello said at a July 23 conference in Washington hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association. That guidance was developed by Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall, the senior DOD official leading the department’s attempts to make buying weapons, IT and everything else less costly and more efficient.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2014/07/23/dod-stresses-testing.aspx

What needs to be fixed in the FAR?

A recent Federal Computer Week story by Mark Rockwell, “Teaching feds not to fear the FAR,” has gotten a fair amount of attention in the Twittersphere and is definitely worth reading.

It discusses a number of efforts underway — including a “Buyer’s Club” led by Health and Human Services Chief Technology Officer Bryan Sivak and a TechFAR document being prepared at the Office of Federal Procurement Policy under the leadership of the indefatigable Mathew Blum — to lower the fear factor in the government IT community around the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and to emphasize flexibilities available in the regs.

These are very good efforts that deserve support. Many new and exciting procurement techniques, such as contests and crowdsourcing, are — as those quoted in Rockwell’s article note — already permitted by the FAR. The government can access some crowdsourcing websites for less than $3,000, which means services there can be purchased without further ado using a government credit card.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/blogs/lectern/2014/07/fixing-the-far.aspx

See article entitled “Teaching feds not to fear the FAR” at: http://contractingacademy.gatech.edu/2014/07/teaching-feds-not-to-fear-the-far/

 

Contractors group would restructure White House procurement shop

Citing a “human capital crisis” in a federal workforce beset by retirements and inexperience, a major contractors group on Monday proposed acquisition reforms that would speed up the procurement process, enhance industry-agency collaboration and reorganize the White House Office of Federal Procurement Policy to improve workforce training.

The Professional Services Council’s report joins an array of acquisition reform efforts under way in the executive branch and on Capitol Hill in addressing the need to create contracting officers with a more sophisticated grasp of industry trends in services contracting, particularly in information technology.

“We need to fundamentally rethink the workforce, to create a unified vision across government,” said Stan Soloway, president and CEO of the council, which represents 375 member companies. “It will affect everything from how we prosecute wars to how we operate our business systems. The time for incremental or tactical change has long passed.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2014/07/contractors-group-would-restructure-white-house-procurement-shop/89870/

Read the full report by and recommendations of the Professional Services Council at: The PSC Acquisition and Technology Policy Agenda – 07.28.2014