DISA drops $16 billion contract after controversy

The Pentagon has pulled back its plans to award a$1.6 billion contract re-up to VMware after several companies protested the award in February.

The Defense Department’s cancellation of its joint enterprise licensing agreement with VMware allowed the Government Accountability Office to dismiss bid protests filed by Amazon Web Services, Citrix, Nutanix and Minburn Technology Group.

Those four companies contended the re-up was an improper sole-source request for cloud services that would have given VMware an unfair edge for DOD’s growing cloud demand.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/emerging-tech-blog/2015/03/disa-drops-16b-contract-after-controversy/107631

IG: Navy and Marine Corps reasonably justified IT contracts with little or no competition

The Navy and Marine Corps reasonably justified about $220 million worth of IT contracts that were solicited without full and open competition, says the Defense Department’s inspector general in a report issued Jan. 23.

The IG reviewed 66 Navy and Marine Corps IT contracts that used “other than full and open competition” to procure technology services, with 34 being sole-source contracts and the other 32 limiting competition in some way.

The 34 sole-source contracts were valued at $151.5 million, with the rest coming in around $70 million, the report says.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/ig-navy-and-marine-corps-justified-it-contracts-little-or-no-competition/2015-01-26

Air Force to reshape ‘cost curve’ via targeted acquisition reforms

The Air Force is kicking off a series of targeted acquisition initiatives that its leaders hope will bring in more competition, cut out internal bureaucracy and ultimately lead to faster, cheaper procurements.

Deborah Lee James, the secretary of the Air Force, announced the plans under an overall banner she dubbed “Bending the Cost Curve.” She described the initiative as a series of actions that are complementary to DoD’s Better Buying Power initiative — but more specific and tailored than the DoD-wide project.

James said the changes, which the service developed after a months-long series of roundtables with industry groups, will help the Air Force do a better job of communicating with its existing vendor base, welcoming new firms into the fold and removing bureaucratic processes that seem to serve little purpose other than to slow things down.

“We are simply too slow in all that we do,” she told the Atlantic Council Wednesday evening. “Here’s one horrifying factoid: We currently average 17 months to award a contract in situations where we already know there’s only one supplier who can do the work.”

To tackle costs on its major systems, the Air Force will institutionalize a new program that will attempt to make price more of an independent variable in the service’s decisions about precisely what it wants its weapons systems to do.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/395/3781054/Air-Force-to-reshape-cost-curve-via-targeted-acquisition-reforms

House lawmakers call for OFPP to issue reverse auction guidance

House lawmakers are pressing the Office of Federal Procurement Policy to update the Federal Acquisition Regulations to detail how best agencies should use reverse auctions.

Reps. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) and Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairmen of the Veterans Affairs and Small Business committees, respectively, wrote to Anne Rung, OFPP administrator, Dec. 4, asking for a FAR case to be opened immediately to address reverse auctions.

“As you may well know, while our two committees recognize that reverse auctions, when properly used, may deliver savings to the taxpayer, we have long been concerned that some are misusing this tool to evade competition and compliance with other procurement regulations,” Graves and Miller wrote in the letter obtained by Federal News Radio.

Graves and Miller highlight findings from the December 2013 report from Government Accountability Office as well as recent GAO bid protest decisions detailing agency struggles with reverse auctions.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/517/3765084/House-lawmakers-call-for-OFPP-to-issue-reverse-auction-guidance

White House releases Georgia Tech-influenced national manufacturing roadmap

Leaders from Georgia Tech participated in the release of the President’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP 2.0) final report, a one-year endeavor to outline a roadmap to secure U.S. manufacturing competitiveness. Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson served on the 19-person AMP 2.0 Steering Committee and numerous faculty and staff put in many hours serving on various workstreams that focused on different aspects of manufacturing competitiveness.  This effort builds on the original AMP which kicked off in 2011 and ended in 2012 and also included Georgia Tech as one of a select few universities invited by the White House to participate.

Presidential SealBoth President Obama and Commerce Secretary Pritzker attended the out-brief from the AMP Steering Committee on Oct. 27, 2014 in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, and Georgia Tech Provost Rafael Bras represented Georgia Tech.

“The Georgia Tech community should be proud of the role that our team played in influencing this important report,” said Georgia Tech President Peterson. “Manufacturing has been central to Georgia Tech’s mission since its founding and we’re honored to add our collective experience and expertise to help grow the manufacturing economy in our country.”

Building upon the report, Obama announced a series of executive actions to strengthen U.S. advanced manufacturing, including a $300 million investment in the emerging technologies of advanced materials including composites and bio-based materials, advanced sensors for manufacturing and digital manufacturing.  Read about the multi-agency and private sector effort > 

Following the White House meeting, Georgia Tech researchers were invited panelists at a briefing hosted by the Innovation Policy Forum of The National Academies to discuss the report’s recommendations for enabling innovation, securing the talent pipeline and improving the business climate for manufacturing. Georgia Tech’s Tom Kurfess, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, addressed the report’s findings for enabling innovation, specifically on developing technologies to build a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). Jennifer Clark, Director of the Center for Urban Innovation at Georgia Tech, spoke on Improving the Business Climate and recommendations related to Scale-up Policy. The U.S. has been the leading producer of manufactured goods for more than 100 years, but strengths in manufacturing innovation and technologies that have sustained American leadership in manufacturing are under threat from new and growing competition abroad.

The AMP 2.0 report identifies the role of the Executive Office of the President in coordinating the federal government’s advanced manufacturing activities and defines responsibilities for Federal agencies and other Federal bodies in implementation.

Feds buy back USASpending website after contractor bankruptcy

The government procured its own spending transparency website and the primary data system behind it on the same day last month the contract to manage the systems was set to expire, new documents show.

The move frees up previously contested federal contracting data, which will facilitate increased competition for future contracts, according to outside observers and the General Services Administration.

It’s unclear if the purchase became necessary to keep the site running or if the opportunity arose as a result of Global Computer Enterprises, Inc.’s financial instability, which led to a bankruptcy filing last month.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/big-data/2014/10/feds-buy-back-usaspending-website-after-contractor-bankruptcy/96251/

Pentagon considers spliting Air Force One contract to gain more competition

The U.S. Air Force will decide by December whether Boeing will have to share a multibillion-dollar project to provide the next Air Force One jetliner for the president, the service said.

The Air Force has budgeted $1.6 billion for research through 2019 and is “working toward release” of a request for proposals early next year with a schedule to purchase the first aircraft in fiscal 2016, according to spokesman Charles Gulick.

The military hasn’t ruled out buying 747-8 passenger planes from Chicago-based Boeing and then using other contractors to outfit them for the special needs of the presidential fleet. Airbus Group NV, the European aircraft company, said last year that it wouldn’t challenge Boeing to build the plane.

“The Air Force does not yet have an approved acquisition strategy,” and intends to present one “in fall 2014” for review by the Pentagon’s Defense Acquisition Board, Gulick said in an e-mailed statement.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20140828/BIZ/140829035/Air-Force-may-make-Boeing-share-work-on-presidential-planes

IG: USPS should rescind its facilities contract delegation

The Postal Service should rescind its facilities contract delegation because the contracting officers aren’t required to meet professional qualifications or establish competition requirements, an Aug. 5 USPS inspector general report says.

USPS’s Supply Management office is responsible for approving contracts to acquire goods and services, but they can delegate contracting authority to personnel outside of Supply Management, the report says.

In September 2013, the Postal Service reported six delegations. And though five of those delegations have performed well, the facilities delegation hasn’t, the IG says.

Facilities did not require contracting officers to meet professional qualifications or establish sufficient competition requirements for contracts, the report says. Also, the facilities delegation could not identify its active contracts and did not timely submit the required annual reports.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/ig-usps-should-rescind-its-facilities-contract-delegation/2014-08-12

What motivates defense contractors? Four lessons for government leaders

Competition was the main theme of the Defense Department’s second annual report on acquisition performance, released earlier this month. Declining budgets may be pushing defense contractors to look for work outside the government, but the Pentagon’s emphasis remains on promoting competition, according to Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

The report analyzed contractors’ cost and schedule performance over more than a decade to see what motivated them to produce better results. Here are some takeaways:

1. The carrot-and-stick approach works.

2. Fixed-price isn’t always the best fix.

3. More competition does mean better performance.

4. Leadership matters, but it’s not clear how much.

For details, keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/what-motivates-defense-contractors-four-lessons-for-government-leaders/2014/06/27/a623fb06-f577-11e3-a3a5-42be35962a52_story.html

Both competition and small business participation are down in DoD contracts

The Department of Defense (DoD) has issued its annual report on the “Performance of the Defense Acquisition System,” and at least two elements of the report are sure to get attention:

  • There’s less competition in DoD contracting, and
  • Small business goals continue to be missed.

The Defense Department has been losing ground for the last six years in the percentage of contracted work being let competitively.  In 2008, 64 percent of DoD contract dollars were spent through competitive awards; by 2013, that rate had fallen to 57 percent.

DoD Competition Trend FY06 - FY13

This table showing declining competition in DoD contracts is from page 18 of DoD’s report entitled “Performance of the Defense Acquisition System, 2014.”

Of the units with in DoD, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) engaged in the highest rate of competitive contracting (82 percent) while the lowest rate of competitive contracts (41 percent) was demonstrated by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.  Overall, DoD missed its competitive contracting target of 60 percent, coming in at 57 percent in FY13.   No unit within DoD met its competition goal.  Even at 82 percent, DLA missed its goal of 86 percent.

The decline in competition comes despite DoD’s formal acquisition policies to increase competition.  In 2010, DoD began setting strategic goals to increase the percentage it spends on competitively-awarded contracts. In September of that year, then-Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Ashton Carter issued the memorandum “Better Buying Power: Guidance for Obtaining Greater Efficiency and Productivity in Defense Spending,” which, among other things, aimed to lower weapons costs by increasing competition.  Building on those goals, Frank Kendall, Carter’s successor, launched the Better Buying Power 2.0 initiative two years later. 

In a related contracting area, DoD’s rate of contract awards to small businesses  has been improving since FY11, but awards to small businesses in FY13 lag DoD’s achievements in several recent years, specifically FY03, FY04, FY05, FY06 and FY09.

Small business eligible dollars obligated to small businesses in FY13 totaled $47.2 billion across the Department: $15.9 billion for products (i.e., supplies and equipment) and $31.3 billion for services.  Overall, DoD missed its FY13 goal of 22.5 percent by 1.3 percentage points.

DoD Small Business Utilization Rates - FY01-FY13

This table from page 20 of “Performance of the Defense Acquisition System, 2014″ shows that participation by small businesses in DoD contracts lags achievements in FY09 and earlier years.

To read DoD’s complete annual report on acquisition, visit: http://www.acq.osd.mil/docs/Performance-of-Defense-Acquisition-System-2014.pdf