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

Pentagon’s sole-source contracts continue to dwindle, says GAO

The Defense Department is doing its part to curb the number of sole-source contracts awarded without competition and is properly justifying—in most instances—their use to help develop small, disadvantaged businesses, an audit found.

The Government Accountability Office’s Sept. 9 report to the House and Senate Armed Services committees evaluated sole-source contracts worth more than $20 million under the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program and found that the Pentagon in fiscal 2013 continued a “significant decrease” in such contracts. It awarded five in 2013, each worth $20 million, compared with 27 contracts valued at $2 billion in 2009.

All five of the recent contracts were justified as being “in the best interest of the government,” though three of them failed to fully meet Federal Acquisition Regulation requirements that relevant officials sign off on them in a timely manner.

Fifty-five sole-source contracts were awarded under the 8(a) program over the past four years, the report found, led by the Army with 37, the Navy with 13, the Air Force with two, and three elsewhere in the department.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/defense/2014/09/pentagons-sole-source-contracts-continue-dwindle-says-gao/93899/

‘Change in direction’ for Better Buying Power 3.0, says AT&L chief

Defense Department officials are preparing to roll out a third iteration of its Better Buying Power initiative aimed at reforming defense acquisition, and the new version will focus on products, innovation and engineering.

Better Buying Power (BBP) 3.0 is expected to be introduced in the coming weeks–possibly as soon as Sept. 12—according to Frank Kendall, deputy Defense secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, who spoke Sept. 4 at an industry event in Newport, Rhode Island.

The first BBP focused on rules and business practices, and the second emphasized critical thinking and the acquisition workforce. Kendall said that the latest version is “a change in emphasis – it’s not a fundamental change in direction.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.c4isrnet.com/article/20140905/C4ISRNET14/309050004/Kendall-Change-direction-Better-Buying-Power-3-0

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/

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

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