HHS chief seeks investigation into Affordable Health Care website contracts

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday asked the department’s inspector general to investigate the contracting process behind the government’s botched rollout of the online health insurance exchange in October.

In a letter to Inspector General Daniel Levinson, Sebelius said it’s critical to understand the factors that contributed to the failed launch of HealthCare.gov. “I am requesting that your office undertake a review of the work of our contractors, and the management of and payments to those contractors, in the development of HealthCare.gov,” she wrote.

Specifically, she requested an investigation of the acquisition process; contractor selection and project management; contractor performance and monitoring; and payments to contractors throughout the process.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/health/2013/12/hhs-chief-seeks-investigation-obamacare-website-contracts/75326



VA contracts with non-VA medical providers lacked performance requirements, GAO says

Some Veterans Affairs Department contracts with non-VA medical providers didn’t contain specific performance requirements and contracting officer  representatives didn’t have time to monitor the contracts due to other duties,  an Oct. 31 Government Accountability Office report says.

Of the 12 contracts GAO reviewed from the four VA medical centers, 10 lacked specific performance requirements in  one or more of six categories: type of provider or care; credentialing and  privileging; clinical practice standards; medical record documentation; business  processes; and access to care.

In one case, a VA medical center cardiothoracic contract didn’t contain a  statement describing the contract provider’s responsibilities for reporting and responding to adverse events and patient complaints.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/va-contracts-non-va-medical-providers-lacked-performance-requirements-gao-s/2013-11-05

Download a copy of the GAO report at: http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/658685.pdf 

Prolonged Government shutdown would impact contractors

A government shutdown, particularly if it is prolonged, will affect more than just federal workers and their families. The large number of people employed by federal contractors and subcontractors could be at risk of furloughs, delays in pay, and adverse impacts to the companies they work for.

Paul Light of New York University pegged the total number of federal contract employees at 7.6 million in 2005, according to the Congressional Research Service in a 2011 report.

The Congressional Research Service stated in a recent report that the two fiscal year (FY) 1996 shutdowns impacted contractors. It noted the effects on the densest geographical concentration of federal contractors: “Of $18 billion in Washington, DC, area contracts, $3.7 billion (over 20%) reportedly were affected adversely by the funding lapse… employees of federal contractors reportedly were furloughed without pay.”

If a shutdown lasts much more than a handful of days, the impacts will likely be much greater on contractors this time around.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.foreffectivegov.org/node/12704 

Pentagon buys untested mobile security system for 300,000 users

Pentagon officials did not test product performance before purchasing a potentially $16 million service intended to secure smartphones and tablets for 300,000 military personnel worldwide.

In late June, the Defense Information Systems Agency inked a deal for software and training to support government-owned mobile gadgets used by the entire Defense Department, along with members of the Coast Guard, National Guard and military reserve forces. The product selection process did not require technology demonstrations, according to contract filings.

The “mobile device management” system is critical to ensuring unclassified consumer brand devices that touch military networks do not infect Defense systems or leak information if they fall into the wrong hands.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/mobile/2013/07/pentagon-buys-untested-mobile-security-system-300000-users/66854/?oref=nextgov_today_nl

Sequestration is ‘dumbest fiscal management policy ever conceived’ – NDIA chair

[Editor’s Note: With Congress scheduled to vote on the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act this month, sequestration will be the giant hiding behind the door.   The effects of sequestration are ignored by the bill (as they are ignored by the administration’s budget.)  Into this vacuum steps the chairman of the National Defense Industrial Association, who heads EADS NA, the North American subsidiary of the European defense giant. Read below what Sean O’Keefe believes must be done.]

Forrest Gump was right. “Stupid is as stupid does.” It is coming as no surprise that “sequestration,” the dumbest fiscal management policy ever conceived, is already producing some pretty mindless results.

As bad as the damage is from enduring automatic salami-slicing of budget line items, perhaps what is worse is the evisceration of already low public confidence in both legislative and executive branch leadership, coupled with the complete demoralization of the career public service facing furloughs on a regular basis for the next several months.

Sequestration was created by frustrated budget negotiators who felt that the pain it might portend would be so great that surely wiser heads would prevail and a budget deal would be achieved. Clearly, the negotiators underestimated our government’s capacity for sustaining self-inflicted wounds. It is as if the now-recognized “Mayhem” guy of Allstate commercial fame has found a new job.

The reports are just beginning to come in, but you don’t have to look hard to find plenty of near-term decisions that will make savings at the margin only to create larger bills in the future. Public leaders don’t try to make nonsensical decisions — but there is something about the current budgetary environment that makes such actions more likely. It is as if we have rendered null and void Winston Churchill’s observation, “Gentlemen, we have run out of money, now we have to think.”

Keep reading this article at: http://breakingdefense.com/2013/06/10/the-gump-guide-to-sequestration-dumbest-fiscal-management-policy-ever/

DOD must continue to educate military personnel to work with, manage civilian contractors, report says

Civilian contractors play a vital role in the Defense Department, but  experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan with contractor-related waste and  mismanagement led the military and Congress to rethink how they will be used in  future operations.

The military is reevaluating how it works with contractors, specifically  training officers to work with and better understand how contractors do their  jobs, a May 17 Congressional Research Service report  (.pdf) says.

The report found that contractors made up at least half of the deployed  forces in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. In March 2013, there were some  108,000 DoD contractors in Afghanistan, making up 62 percent of the total force.  Of this number, there were 18,000 private security contractors, compared to  65,700 U.S. troops. The report notes that many government officials and analysts  admit that the military is so reliant on civilian contractors that it cannot  carry out long term and many short-term operations without them.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/dod-must-continue-educate-military-personnel-work-manage-civilian-contracto/2013-05-29

Secret ‘man caves’ found in EPA warehouse

A warehouse maintained by contractors for the Environmental Protection Agency contained secret rooms full of exercise equipment, televisions and couches, according to an internal audit.

EPA’s inspector general found contractors used partitions, screens and piled up boxes to hide the rooms from security cameras in the 70,000 square-foot building located in Landover, Md. The warehouse — used for inventory storage — is owned by the General Services Administration and leased to the EPA for about $750,000 per year.

The EPA has issued a stop work order to Apex Logistics LLC, the responsible contractor, ensuring the company’s workers no longer have access to the site — EPA security officials escorted contractor personnel off the premises on May 17 — and ending all payments on the contract.

Since awarding the contract in May 2007, EPA has paid Apex Logistics about $5.3 million, most of which went to labor costs. Conditions at the facility “raise questions about time charges made by warehouse employees under the contract,” the report said.

“The warehouse contained multiple unauthorized and hidden personal spaces created by and for the workers that included televisions, refrigerators, radios, microwaves, chairs and couches,” the IG report said. “These spaces contained personal items, including photos, pin ups, calendars, clothing, books, magazines and videos.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2013/06/secret-man-caves-found-epa-warehouse/64202/

Procurement chief: Measure contractor performance

Joe Jordan, the top White House procurement official, recently told a gathering of government officials and contractors how he and his wife sometimes travel to New England and look for places to stay along the way. He wasn’t giving travel advice, though.

The remarks, delivered at an acquisition conference in Washington, aimed to highlight a way the government can improve how it does business.

“It really bothers me at a personal, visceral level that when I look for a bed and breakfast because my wife and I are going away for the weekend, I have vastly more descriptive information … about the quality of bed and breakfasts within a three-hour drive of D.C. than what many agencies have when they answer to a $20 million IT services contract,” Jordan said. “That’s ridiculous.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20130417/IT03/304170004/Procurement-chief-Measure-contractor-performance?odyssey=nav%7Chead 

Sharing contractor performance data in eight easy steps

The Obama administration is pressing the acquisition workforce to get better at telling other agencies, through a governmentwide online performance database, how well contractors do their jobs.

Joe Jordan, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, wants to improve the quantity and quality of data agencies put into the Federal Award Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS).

FAPIIS is the foundation for good data, Jordan stressed in the memo, dated March 6.

“However, ” he added, “agencies must increase their use of these tools, as underreporting performance information leaves the government vulnerable to poor acquisition outcomes in the future.”

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2013/03/18/contractor-performance-data.aspx 

OFPP tells agencies to get serious about tracking contractor performance

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy is attempting, for a third time, to get  agencies to use the Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS) more  consistently.

So instead of asking and encouraging, OFPP Administrator Joe Jordan is setting  specific goals for agencies.

In a new memo to chief acquisition officers and  senior procurement executives, Jordan sets three-year targets for agencies to  enter vendor-performance information into the governmentwide database.

This year, the goals vary depending on how often the agency is currently entering  data into PPIRS. For instance, departments inputting data for 60 percent or more  of their contracts, must improve to 85 percent by Sept. 30. For agencies using  PPIRS 30 percent to 60 percent of the time, their goal now is 75  percent. And for those agencies using PPIRS less than 30 percent of the time,  their goal is 65 percent.

“This required contract-administration duty can significantly reduce the risk to  the government on future awards, so agencies must take bold steps to ensure that  all critical performance information is made available in the Past Performance  Information Retrieval System (PPIRS) in a timely manner, and to the maximum extent  practicable, eliminate duplicative, paper-based past performance evaluation  surveys generated outside these systems,” Jordan wrote.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/517/3247234/OFPP-tells-agencies-to-get-serious-about-tracking-contractor-performance