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.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20150213/NEWS/150219965/critics-warn-dods-ehr-contract-could-mean-vendor-lock-and-health

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.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/dod-doesnt-know-if-it-can-sustain-contracting-database-says-gao/2015-02-19

Air Force claims $2 billion in acquisition savings from ‘should-cost’ management

The concept of “should-cost” management was a key component of the first version of the Defense Department’s Better Buying Power program when it was first rolled out almost five years ago.

But the Air Force’s top acquisition official said the idea hasn’t been forgotten: his service has used it to cut programs’ actual costs by an estimated $2 billion over the last several years, with more potential savings to come.

Should-cost is not strictly a new idea in government procurement. It’s been codified in the Federal Acquisition Regulation for decades, but it wasn’t until 2010 that the Pentagon ordered the military services to use it in all of their major acquisitions. In a nutshell, it requires program managers to set-aside the historically-based independent cost estimates that are developed for all big programs and that DoD is required to base its budgets on, and instead, manage their programs according to what they ought to cost.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/395/3802526/Air-Force-claims-2-billion-in-acquisition-savings-from-should-cost-management

‘Fat Leonard’ contracting scandal jams up dozens of US Navy flag moves

It was a festive day at the U.S. Naval Academy last July 23 as the US Navy’s top leadership gathered in Annapolis, Maryland, for a change of command and retirement ceremony. Vice Adm. Mike Miller was ending a four-year tour as academy superintendent and retiring with honors after a 40-year career.

Except that when the hoopla died down, Miller wasn’t allowed to leave the service just yet. Even though his official online biography reads “retired,” he’s still being carried on the Navy’s active-duty rolls — at a reduced two-star level. And although he has no specific job — or billet, in Navy-speak — he counts against the service’s allocated total of 219 admirals.

Defense officials said Miller is one of an estimated three dozen flag officers under federal investigation for potential wrongdoing in the Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) case, also known as the “Fat Leonard” affair, after the nickname of the company’s leader, Leonard Glenn Francis.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/naval/navy/2015/02/08/navy-gdma-glenn-defense-marine-asia-fat-leonard-scandal-investigation-justice-admirals-flags/22978631

What military contractors can learn from the Pentagon’s 2016 budget

From the outside, the Pentagon’s budget looks relatively similar that the plan the Defense Department laid out one year ago. But upon closer inspection, President Barack Obama’s budget request gives a glimpse into how the military will look decades from now.

A number of new research-and-development projects could lead to major, multibillion weapon programs down the road. As such, defense firms are paying close attention to these projects.

“This budget does show some priorities,” said Roman Schweizer, an analyst with Guggenheim Securities.

DOD is looking to the latter part of this decade as a time to get back to basics and invest for the future.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2015/02/what-military-contractors-can-learn-pentagons-2016-budget/104505

Defense contracting agency investigating possible breach

The federal agency responsible for managing the Defense Department’s (DOD) outside contracts is investigating a possible breach, security news blog KrebsOnSecurity reported.

As of Wednesday morning, the website for the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) was down. A message posted to the homepage says, “Corrective Action in Progress.”

DCMA told KrebsOnSecurity that the page had been pulled after the agency discovered suspicious activity on its server Jan. 28.

In a statement, the agency said it so far had no information that any personal data had been breached from the DCMA or DOD servers.

Keep reading this article at: http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/232421-defense-contracting-agency-investigating-breach

Former supervisory contracting officer arrested in Navy bribery scandal

A former senior federal contracting officer was arrested last week for conspiracy to commit bribery in connection with his alleged role in a scheme to steer contracts and benefits to Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), a defense contracting firm headquartered in Singapore.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy of the Southern District of California, Director Andrew L. Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Deputy Inspector General of Investigations James B. Burch of the Department of Defense (DCIS) made the announcement.

“Today’s arrest in this ongoing investigation demonstrates our continued resolve to root out all of the corrupt officials involved in this bribery scheme,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslia R. Caldwell.  “As alleged, Paul Simpkins misused his position as a contracting officer at the U.S. Navy to obtain bribes of cash, air travel, hotel rooms, and prostitutes, and his actions tarnish the reputation earned by the vast majority of U.S. Navy officers and enlisted and civilian personnel.”

“With the arrest of Paul Simpkins, who was recently among the Defense Department’s high ranking civilians we have uncovered yet another tentacle of this pervasive bribery scheme,” said U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy.  “The more we learn about the extent of the greed and corruption, the more determined we are to eviscerate it.”

“As we’ve mentioned previously, the GDMA investigation is far from over,” said Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Director Andrew I. Traver.  “NCIS will follow the evidence wherever it leads, to bring to justice those who were involved in perpetrating this massive fraud on the Department of the Navy and the American taxpayer.  Active leads remain and NCIS will stay on the case until our work is done.”

“As the filing of today’s Criminal Complaint and subsequent arrest of Paul Simpkins shows, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and its law enforcement partners will continue to identify and investigate those individuals who seek to defraud the U.S. taxpayer,” said DoD’s Deputy Inspector General of Investigations James B. Burch.  “Any individual, regardless of position, who allowed Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd. to prosper at the expense of the American taxpayer, will be brought to justice.”

Paul Simpkins, 60, of Haymarket, Virginia, is the latest individual to be arrested in connection with a corruption probe involving the U.S. Navy, GDMA, and its owner, Leonard Glenn Francis.  To date, seven individuals, including Francis, and GDMA have entered guilty pleas as part of the investigation.

According to a criminal complaint unsealed today, Simpkins held several manager-level contracting positions throughout the federal government, including Supervisory Contract Special at the U.S. Navy Regional Contracting Center in Singapore from April 2005 through June 2007, and manager in the Department of Defense’s Office of Small Business Programs from December 2007 to August 2012.  The complaint alleges that between May 2006 and September 2012, Simpkins accepted several hundred thousand dollars in cash and wire transfers, travel and entertainment expenses, hotel rooms and the services of prostitutes.  In return, Simpkins allegedly helped steer lucrative U.S. Navy contracts to Francis and GDMA, advocated for and advanced the interests of GDMA in contract disputes, and assisted in preventing GDMA’s competitors from receiving U.S. Navy business.

The complaint specifically alleges that, beginning in early 2006, Simpkins and Francis held a series of meetings at a hotel in Singapore in which Francis agreed to provide Simpkins with things of value in return for help in steering lucrative ship husbanding contracts to GDMA.  Specifically, the complaint alleges that Francis paid Simpkins by hand-delivering over $150,000 in cash and by making several wire transfers to a bank account held in the name of Simpkins’s wife at the time.  To conceal the true nature of the wire transfers, Simpkins allegedly used an email account belonging to his mistress to advise Francis of the routing and account information of the bank account belonging to his wife.

In return for the things of value, Simpkins allegedly used his influence within the U.S. Navy to benefit GDMA, including by helping GDMA to secure lucrative ship husbanding contracts to service U.S. Navy vessels in Thailand and the Philippines.  In addition, Simpkins allegedly interceded on GDMA’s behalf in contract disputes with the U.S. Navy.  The complaint specifically alleges that in 2006, Simpkins’s subordinate recommended that GDMA’s husbanding contract in Thailand not be extended due to “many exceedingly high cost” items.  Simpkins allegedly overruled his subordinate and extended GDMA’s contract.

In another example, Simpkins allegedly instructed U.S. Navy officials in Hong Kong to discontinue the use of meters that monitored the volume of liquid waste that GDMA removed from U.S. Navy ships under its husbanding contracts.  The use of these meters would have ensured proper accounting of the actual amount of waste removed to ensure that no overbilling occurred.  Simpkins also allegedly instructed a U.S. Navy official not to review invoices that GDMA submitted in connection to a recent port call in Hong Kong after Francis complained that U.S. Navy personnel were asking questions.

The charges contained in a complaint are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Anyone with information relating to fraud, corruption or waste in government contracting should contact the NCIS anonymous tip line at www.ncis.navy.mil or the DOD Hotline at www.dodig.mil/hotline, or call (800) 424-9098.

Source: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/former-supervisory-contracting-officer-arrested-navy-bribery-scandal

DoD’s proposals aim to simplify ‘mindboggling’ acquisition rules

The Defense Department has submitted seven legislative proposals to Capitol Hill to simplify its acquisition process.

But just don’t call them reforms, they are improvements, said Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

Kendall told the House Armed Services Committee on January 28, 2015 that reforms imply there is some big change, or some big initiative that can fix the acquisition system. But that is just not the case with these proposals.

“What we have to do is attack our problems on many fronts and make incremental progress on many fronts, learn from our experience and then adopt new things as we understand the impact of the things we’ve done,” Kendall said. “And that’s why we’ve emphasized a continuous process improvement approach in the Better Buying Initiatives over the last several years. I think that is the right approach. I think we will make incremental progress on a lot of fronts and in the aggregate, I think it will make a big difference.”

He said the incremental approach will let DoD, and Congress for that matter, improve upon many of the acquisition challenges the military faces.

“At the end of the day, a great deal of it is about not putting rules in place to constrain people, but getting people in a position where they can make better decisions and do the right thing, and then have the institutional support to execute the right thing and do it successfully,” Kendall said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/394/3790060/DoDs-proposals-aim-to-simplify-mindboggling-acquisition-rules

Pentagon’s acquisition chief announces development of next-gen fighters in FY16 budget

The United States will begin serious development of prototypes for so-called sixth generation fighters — successors to the F-35 and F-22 — for the Navy and the Air Force in the 2016 budget, says the head of Pentagon acquisition, Frank Kendall.

The Aviation Innovation Initiative is a new effort, not an agglomeration of existing DARPA programs, Kendall told me during a vote break at today’s hearing. He declined to say how much money the new initiative is getting, only calling it “significant.” I would assume that means between $150 million and $500 million or so for the first few years, given the fact they are developing airframe and engine prototypes. Developing several bleeding edge prototypes — which is what a DARPA effort like this would presumably target — could not be done for peanuts.

The main goals of this effort — aside from developing and proving technologies — is to preserve the defense industry design teams that are crucial to building aircraft (and who don’t have much work right now) reduce lead times and reduce program risk, Kendall told us.

Keep reading this article at: http://breakingdefense.com/2015/01/kendall-unveils-sixth-gen-fighter-project-for-2016/

Pass-through contracts for war zones need monitoring, GAO finds

Three agencies working overseas that together spent $322 billion on contracting in fiscal 2013 need to improve guidance given contracting officers to reduce risk of overpayments, a watchdog found. Two-thirds of that money is funneled through prime contractors to smaller contractors who perform most of the work.

Use of pass-through contracts—under which at least 70 percent of funding is routed to subcontractors—requires new analysis and guidance before they are awarded, the Government Accountability Office noted in a Dec. 22, 2014 report.

“Concerns remain that the government could overpay contractors that provide no, or little, added value for work performed by lower-tier subcontractors,” GAO wrote.

The watchdog cited requirements imposed on the Defense and State Departments and the U.S. Agency for International Development under the 2007, 2009 and 2013 versions of the National Defense Authorization Act to reduce waste in purchasing goods and services primarily in Afghanistan.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/defense/2014/12/pass-through-contracts-war-zones-need-monitoring-gao-finds/102024/