Cloud of sequestration looms over DC region

Five weeks before another round of deep Defense Department cuts is set to go into effect absent action from Congress, budget analysts and elected leaders throughout the region are renewing concerns about the Washington area’s reliance on Pentagon spending and the need to advance private sector growth in its place.

20131112_193738No state is more reliant on defense spending than Virginia, where it affects nearly 13 percent of the commonwealth’s economic output, tops nationwide, and provides the basis for 11 percent of jobs, third in the nation.

D.C. and Maryland also rank in the top 10 in Defense Department spending among states, with 6.9 percent and 5.8 percent of their output relying on defense respectively, according to a department report released last year.

In some ways Virginia is still reeling from automatic spending cuts known as sequestration that took place in 2013. The state’s gross domestic product had zero growth in 2014, according to a recent Department of Commerce report, third worst among states.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/digger/wp/2015/08/23/cloud-of-sequestration-looms-over-d-c-region/

Survey: Acquisition workforce falling behind on training

The buyers of products and services across government are not receiving the fresh training or modern skill sets needed to innovate and acquire the complex technology called for in today’s agency missions, according to a survey of federal acquisition employees released on Thursday.

“The acquisition workforce’s skills in areas such as business acumen, negotiation, risk mitigation and understanding complex information technology fall well short of what acquisition professionals say is required,” said Stan Soloway, president and CEO of the Professional Services Council. PSC and Grant Thornton prepared the seventh edition of a biannual survey titled “A Closing Window: Are We Missing the Opportunity for Change?”

“This not a failure of the workforce,” Soloway said, “but a result of our collective slowness to recognize the need for major change” in education and support.

In a session with reporters, he cited frustrations over a “growing gap” between acquisition specialists and the end users who increasingly say the technology being delivered isn’t suitable.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2015/01/survey-acquisition-workforce-falling-behind-training/103512/

See more on this topic at: http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=1719

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-

Explaining the federal budget paralysis

Budget uncertainty is the new norm in the federal sector. With the sequester and government shutdown in recent memory, it has reached the point where the possibility of the next fiscal year starting with a Continuing Resolution of a few months is a relief. Two key questions: Why is this happening in Congress and will the uncertainty ever end?

The most common explanation is to blame a political party or person. This is incomplete. Federal sector managers, executives, and contractors can benefit from looking deeper into Congress and its processes. A better understanding of the dynamics can even improve planning by setting realistic expectations for Congress.

The reality is the federal discretionary budget, which funds the federal government, has become the central battleground for the hyper-partisan warfare in Congress today.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140724/BLG05/307240016/Explaining-budget-paralysis

Pentagon contracts slid 29% in May

Pentagon contracts fell 29 percent in May from a year earlier, the fifth drop in the past six months, in part driven by automatic U.S. budget cuts.

The Defense Department announced contracts with a maximum value of $13.7 billion last month, down from $19.4 billion in May 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. United Technologies Corp. (UTX) won the only award topping $1 billion, for presidential helicopters.

“There will be fits and starts, but the general trend line will continue to fall,” said Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based policy group. “The steepness of that grade is the only question.”

May’s prime, or direct, contracts were less than half the $35 billion awarded a month earlier. April was the only month since December in which contracts have risen on a year-to-year basis. That gain was propelled by a $17.8 billion Navy contract for 10 Virginia-class submarines.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-06-11/pentagon-contracts-slid-29-in-may.html