DIA opens new gateway to vendors, hoping for disruptive technologies

The Defense Intelligence Agency will formally roll out its new Open Innovation Gateway, a major pillar in the agency’s push to move away from big, monolithic technology acquisitions and bring new innovations on board in small bites and in very short cycles.

Officials have not discussed many of the inner workings of the gateway prior to Wednesday’s official announcement, during which DIA will declare it has reached initial operating capability.

The agency has made clear for the past year that the intent is to give technology developers much more insight into the technical requirements that a new capability must meet before the agency will buy it.

That insight, DIA says, extends beyond publishing black and white technical standards. Via the gateway, the agency will give developers access to the actual computing environment DIA uses today — and eventually, the shared set of systems under the entire intelligence community technology infrastructure — so that they will know from the outset whether their technologies will integrate with DIA’s existing systems, and if not, what changes they will need to make.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/239/3650653/DIA-opens-new-gateway-to-vendors-hoping-for-disruptive-technologies

Opening up competition in federal IT

The Public Spend Forum, a group focusing on public-sector procurement, analyzed government IT spending  and found that a  “check the box culture” and a broken requirements and procurement process inhibits competition and limits innovation.

Its recent report, Billions in the Balance: Removing Barriers to Competition & Driving Innovation in the Public-Sector IT Market makes several recommendations for IT managers:

  • Establish clear lines of authority and accountability.
  • Develop a simple needs and outcomes statement instead of voluminous RFPs.
  • Engage the market early.
  • Develop a cost/outcome (ROI)-focused IT strategy.
    • Focus on minimizing cost/outcome as the ROI of a government program
    • Implement flexible IT architectures as recommended in the ACT-IAC 7S for Success Framework.
    • Emphasize prototyping and approaches for minimum viable product rollouts.
    • Avoid monolithic acquisition approaches and instead leverage existing procurement vehicles and allow use of alternative vehicles.
  • Encourage smart risk taking.
  • Reduce burdensome requirements and speed up the procurement process.

Keep reading this article at: http://gcn.com/blogs/pulse/2014/06/competition-in-it-procurement-report.aspx

 

Feds could save $20 billion with better IT infrastructure initiatives, study finds

Perhaps data center consolidation, virtualization, cloud computing, remote access and infrastructure diversification aren’t the sexiest terms in the federal repertoire, but they do hold the keys to as much as $20 billion in annual savings, according to a study by Meritalk.

The study, underwritten by Brocade, is based on survey results from 300 federal network managers who estimate that if the government were to fully leverage all five initiatives, it could save about 24 percent of the government’s $80 billion information technology budget.

The survey’s results sound promising, but there’s a caveat: Two-thirds of the surveyed network managers reported their networks are ill-equipped to meet current mission needs, and much further away from being able to fully embrace newer tech initiatives like cloud computing. If network managers could magically flip a switch and significantly increase network speed by approximately 26 percent, the survey claims the government could cash in $11 billion in savings in one year.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cloud-computing/2014/05/feds-could-save-20-billion-better-it-infrastructure-initiatives-study-finds/84925

Pumping up the procurement playbook

The Department of Health and Human Services is experimenting with an innovative IT acquisition playbook that assembles templates that contracting officers could use to make quicker and more inventive buys.

HHS Chief Technology Officer Bryan Sivak said his agency asked a contracting officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to put the playbook together using some of the more innovative procurement methods allowed under the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

“The FAR has room for some interesting things,” Sivak said during a panel discussion on innovation at the Management of Change conference in Cambridge, Md. Unfortunately, there is usually “no time for procurement officers to explore those processes,” he added.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2014/05/20/hhs-procurement-playbook.aspx

 

DOE paid more for contractor BYOD than if it had issued government phones

The Energy Department ended up paying more to contractors that brought their own mobile devices than it would have if it had paid to given them government devices, an April 15 DOE inspector general report says.

The DOE pays out a stipend to those contractors that use their own devices, but frequently the phones are loaded up with unlimited voice and data plans that end of costing the DOE more than if they’d paid to supply the contractors with government mobile devices, the report says.

DOE could save at least $2.3 million over the next three years if it could better manage the mobile devices used by contractors, the IG says.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercemobilegovernment.com/story/doe-paid-more-contractor-byod-if-it-had-issued-government-phones/2014-04-22

Industry group challenges GSA’s telecom services strategy

The General Services Administration’s strategy for its next-generation telecommunications services contract could exclude a huge segment of providers and duplicate some federal contract offerings, according to a procurement industry group.

GSA issued a request for information for Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) in April; comments are due by May 8.

The RFI is part of GSA’s effort to develop a comprehensive framework and acquisition strategy for Network Services 2020, which will become the federal government’s strategic sourcing center for network-based and network-enabled services. The agency plans to solicit bids for NS2020 in fiscal 2015.

According to Roger Waldron, president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, the plan sets up small and midsize suppliers to fail. The organization’s concerns relate to the scope of services envisioned under the RFI and the designation of mandatory versus optional services, he added.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2014/05/05/industry-group-gsa-telecom-strategy.aspx?admgarea=TC_Management

Acquisition reform: Where do you start?

There are today no fewer than six significant acquisition review/reform efforts underway.

They include:

  • A major effort being jointly undertaken by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.
  • The Defense Department’s  reviews of high-cost/low-value compliance and reporting requirements and soon to be released Better Buying Power 3.0.
  • A “bottom-up” acquisition review directed by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
  • A continuing effort to develop IT acquisition reform legislation in the Senate
  • The recently launched OMB crowdsourcing effort focused on improving acquisition.

Obviously, there will be a lot of overlap even as each (hopefully) seeks to break some new ground. After all, there shouldn’t be much debate about the need to substantially transform the acquisition landscape.

Keep reading this article at: http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2014/04/29/insights-soloway-reform.aspx

1950′s RFP for the U-2 spy plane was just 2 pages long

Federal Communications Commission CIO David Bray dropped an interesting piece of government contracting arcana last week during a panel discussion on the past and future role of government chief information officers.

The conversation had turned to the acquisition process and how its complexities can sometimes prevent agencies from buying the best technology or prolong the process until that technology is sorely out of date. Bray noted that the request for proposals for the U-2 spy plane — the one that secretly flew over the Soviet Union gathering intelligence at high altitudes for half a decade during the early Cold War — was only two pages long.

That’s quite a contrast to modern RFPs, which can run dozens or hundreds of pages for comparatively simple technology.

Unfortunately the full U-2 RFP isn’t easily available online. There are several reference notes, though, attesting to its two-page length. Just as interesting, though, for anyone who’s worked under the contemporary Federal Acquisition Regulation, is this description of the U-2 contracting process compiled by Central Intelligence Agency historians Gregory Pedlow and Donald Welzenbach in 1998.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/emerging-tech-blog/2014/04/rfp-u-2-spy-plane-was-just-two-pages-long/83104 

Improved Pentagon acquisition requires tolerance of risk

The federal government must get more comfortable with risk if it is to deliver the nimbler and more performance-based acquisition regulations that defense contractors pine for, a panel of industry executives said this week.

Federal contracting officials should move from the “adversarial, risk-intolerant oversight culture we have with procurement to one that incentivizes and encourages innovation and appropriate, smart risk-taking,” said Joe Jordan, FedBid’s president of public sector, during an April 23 panel discussion hosted by Bloomberg Government.

There is a widespread perception among federal contractors that the government punishes rather than rewards innovation, he added. “If you step out [on] the ledge half an inch, you’re worried about the IG report, the GAO report, your boss getting called to the Hill and then you bearing the brunt of the repercussions.”

Abandoning that risk-averse approach requires a cultural shift, he added — something bigger and less tangible than amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2014/04/25/dod-acquisition.aspx

DoD plots third chapter in Better Buying Power initiative

Nothing is on paper yet, but the Defense Department says it is in the very early stages of creating a “3.0″ version of its ongoing Better Buying Power initiative.

The newest edition will focus on making sure the military doesn’t fall behind in technological superiority.

Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said the next edition of the Pentagon’s effort to improve its acquisition system will zero in on an issue that he has become increasingly worried about as sequestration-level budgets take a toll on DoD’s investments in research and development.

While he emphasized that Better Buying Power 3.0 still is in the idea stage, he said it will revolve around the notion that DoD can’t afford to put technology advances on hold just because research dollars are shrinking.

“The first iteration was about the rules. The second one was about creating tools to help people think and do a better job of setting up business deals and executing them. The third is probably going to be about innovation and how we move things more rapidly and more effectively into the hands of warfighters,” he said Tuesday (Apr. 8, 2014) at the 15th annual Science and Engineering Technology Conference sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association in College Park, Md.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/65/3599360/DoD-plots-third-chapter-in-Better-Buying-Power-initiative-