GSA sees wave of expiring service contracts as chance to cut duplication

A wave of professional services contracts is due to expire across the government during fiscal 2016, and the Obama administration wants to use the opportunity to consolidate that work into a smaller number of multiple-award contracting vehicles.

Or, at the very least, to ensure agencies don’t create any more of their own.

GSA logoA General Services Administration (GSA) analysis of agency-by-agency contracting data shows that roughly $26 billion in existing professional services contracts will reach their end during 2016 — many more so than will finish their period of performance during 2017. Presumably, much of the work will need to be recompeted to vendors in some form or fashion, and the White House would like it to be performed under fewer contracting vehicles than exist today so that the government can get the most out of its purchasing power.

“From a federal perspective, we’re going to be trying to make sure we’re supporting agencies in looking at existing contracts first — in particular, for their existing indefinite delivery indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts,” said Tiffany Hixson, the Region IX commissioner for the Federal Acquisition Service, at a conference organized by the Coalition for Government Procurement.

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President vetoes Defense authorization bill

President Obama exercised his veto power Thursday (Oct. 22, 2015) for just the fifth time in his presidency, rejecting a defense authorization bill because of the way it would sidestep budget limitations for the military and because it would restrict the transfer of detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay.

The White House said that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would tap an overseas contingency operations account designed for emergencies and war costs and use it as a “slush fund” to avoid budget restrictions. Those restrictions — known as sequestration — would impose offsetting across-the-board cuts if spending passed certain levels.

“The president believes that the men and women who serve in our armed forces deserve adequate and responsible funding, not through a gimmick or not through a slush fund but one that would — could withstand scrutiny,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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