Cyber to appear In Better Buying Power 3.0

Defense Department acquisition chief Frank Kendall said the next generation of the Pentagon’s influential acquisition document, Better Buying Power 3.0, will take aim at cybersecurity.

“We worry about the weapons systems themselves and all of the connectivity they might have,” said Kendall, speaking at a Bloomberg Government forum on March 12, 2015. “These are ways in which a cyber threat can launch an attack, you can think of it as an attack surface, if you will.”

When the Pentagon rolled out its draft of Better Buying Power 3.0, it included eight categories and a number of subcategories, and cybersecurity was not one of them. The final version of the document was expected to be released in March; a new release date has not been set.

“We have a long way to go and I’m not sure where this trail will lead ultimately,” Kendall said of the cybersecurity effort, “but we absolutely have to do a better job of protecting everything about our weapons systems, birth to death.”

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House committee unveils DoD procurement reform bill

The House Armed Services Committee released a highly anticipated bill that is meant to streamline the Defense Department’s acquisition process and better train it’s procurement officers.

The legislation would focus on four areas of the acquisition process: workforce training, chain of command, streamlining reporting requirements and overall acquisition strategy.

“More than being monetarily wasteful, dysfunction in the acquisition process is sapping America’s technological edge and robbing our military of agility in the face of multiplying threats,” says Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) in a joint statement with committee ranking member Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.).

Thornberry went on to say the DoD’s acquisition system is slow and cumbersome and that it delivers “vital equipment years late that underperforms and is difficult and costly to maintain.”

The legislation (H.R.1597) would require procurement officers to be trained in the commercial market to close the knowledge gap between government and industry. It would also require ethics training specifically aimed at the acquisition process.

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Pentagon: The cost of major weapon systems are finally coming down

More than four years since Ashton Carter took on reforming Pentagon acquisition, the cost of the largest arms projects is beginning to stabilize, defense officials say.

Costs among the Defense Department’s largest arms programs are beginning to stabilize after years of overruns, a recent trend that Pentagon officials say is the result of an improvement project launched by now-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter more than four years ago.

Nearly 70 percent of the Pentagon’s 80 major procurement projects – valued at $1.6 trillion – are performing better than anticipated, and in many cases, have reduced costs compared to one year ago, said one senior Pentagon official who was not authorized to speak publicly.

“I think this is a good example compared to last year and then I think you’ll see it again,” the official said.

Costs are down because the military services have become more realistic when laying out schedules and funding for projects, according to the official. They are also doing a better job of making sure projects fit in long-term budget plans.

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AT&L chief provides guidance on appropriate use of LPTA source selection

The Department of Defense (DoD) Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L) Frank Kendall distributed a memorandum to his department’s acquisition professionals on March 4, 2015, providing guidance on when to use lowest-price technically-acceptable (LPTA) contracts.

Notably, the guidance also speaks about how to apply LPTA competitions to acquisitions for professional services.

Kendall’s memo says that DoD should not use LPTA if it is willing to pay more for superior performance.

The memorandum is comprehensive in that it speaks to the types of contracts that DoD may use in LPTA procurements, including fixed-price, time and materials, and cost-plus fixed-fee contracts.

“LPTA is the appropriate source selection process to apply,” Kendall states, “only when there are well-defined requirements, the risk of unsuccessful performance is minimal, price is a significant factor in the selection, and there is neither value, need, nor willingness to pay for higher performance.”  Kendall continues: “LPTA has a clear, but limited place in the source selection ‘best value’ continuum.”

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DoD doesn’t know cost or performance of non-major acquisition programs, GAO says

The Defense Department doesn’t have the information to determine the cost or performance of its non-major acquisition programs, says a March 2 Government Accountability Office report.

These non-major programs, called category II and III programs, range from a multibillion dollar aircraft radar modernization program to soldier clothing and protective equipment programs in the tens of millions of dollars, the report says.

GAO found that the accuracy, completeness and consistency of DOD’s data on these programs were undermined by widespread data entry issues, missing data and inconsistent identification of current category II and III programs.

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GAO Report 15-188 can be downloaded here:

Government spent less on contracts in 2014 than it did the previous year

Federal spending on government contracts decreased in 2014, with the Defense Department seeing the biggest overall decline, according to a March 3 report from Govini, a business consulting company for government contractors.

Govini, each year, releases a federal scorecard that tallies and analyzes data on federal contract spending and agency performance.

The scorecard, which was released to reporters, shows that overall contract spending from the federal government was down 4 percent in 2014 compared to 2013.

The DoD saw the greatest overall decrease in dollars spent, with a nearly $9 billion year-over-year decrease in both the Navy and Army.

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Pentagon one step closer to awarding new $11 billion health records deal

The Defense Department has narrowed down the list of contenders vying for a chance to upgrade its health records system to the tune of up to $11 billion over ten years.

The Defense Department has narrowed down the contenders competing for its massive Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, potentially worth up to $11 billion over a decade.

According to a Feb. 19 presolicitation notice, DOD’s procurement team has established a “competitive range” for the DHMSM contract, leaving only bids from three teams remaining.

DHMSM Procurement Contracting Officer Matt Hudson confirmed to Nextgov the Pentagon has set a range that eliminates some teams; however, he could not confirm which “due to the sensitive nature of the acquisition process.”

However, multiple sources with knowledge of the competitive range confirm that three bidding teams — Computer Sciences Corp., partnered with HP and EHR developer Allscripts; Leidos and Accenture Federal; and IBM and Epic Systems — fall within the competitive range.

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Multiple companies protest $1.6 billion Pentagon contract

Several companies have filed bid protests over the Defense Information Systems Agency’s recent $1.6 billion Defense Departmentwide licensing agreement with VMware.

Since Feb. 19, Amazon Web Services, Citrix, Nutanix and Minburn Technology Group, a Microsoft reseller, have filed formal bid protests with the Government Accountability Office on the DISA joint enterprise license agreement with VMware, citing an overly broad agreement that stifles competition.

Based on the contracting language, the bid protesters also contend the contract re-up is an improper sole-source request for cloud services that would give VMware an unfair advantage competing for DOD’s growing cloud demand.

So many vendors responded to the Feb. 9 solicitation that the government requested additional time to respond to questions received Feb. 19, suggesting the feedback received was highly contentious.

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Critics warn DOD’s EHR contract could mean ‘vendor lock and health data isolation’

A defense think tank says the government may regret its plan to lock the U.S. Defense Department into a 10-year contract with an electronic health-record vendor.

The Center for a New American Security released a report that sharply criticizes the department’s procurement process for a new EHR system, which is expected to cost $11 billion over the life of the contract and has attracted fierce competition among four bidding teams.

“DOD is about to procure another major electronic (health-record) system that may not be able to stay current with—or even lead—the state-of-the-art, or work well with parallel systems in the public or private sector,” warn authors, who include retired Gen. H. Hugh Shelton and former Veterans Affairs Chief Technology Officer Peter Levin.

“We are concerned that a process that chooses a single commercial ‘winner,’ closed and proprietary, will inevitably lead to vendor lock and health-data isolation,” they conclude.

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DoD doesn’t know if it can sustain contracting database, says GAO

The Defense Department doesn’t know what resources it needs to sustain it’s contracting database, says a Feb. 18 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

The DoD has not assessed all resources that it will need to sustain the Synchronized Predeployment and Operational Tracker-Enterprise Suite – a repository of information on contracts and contractor personnel in contingency operations.

DoD has not updated its life-cycle cost estimate or fully defined and assessed its plans to determine the resources needed to sustain SPOT-ES, GAO says.

Specifically, the agency hasn’t updated its life-cycle cost estimate since 2010, despite changes to costs due to schedule delays, the report says.

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