Many projects in Pentagon’s emerging tech program still stuck in development

A Defense Department program that funds emerging technology development isn’t actually transitioning enough of that technology out of the research phase, a new Government Accountability Office report suggests.

pentagon-sealBy the end of the 2014 solicitation, DOD’s “Rapid Innovation Program” will have awarded contracts for about 435 projects, after receiving 11,000 white papers on proposed technologies from businesses. Congress devoted about $1.3 billion to the program in appropriations, according to GAO.

RIP projects have included technology that could improve manufacturing of one part of a thermal battery insulation system, which could potentially grow the lifespan of missile power sources. Another project is a hand pump designed to filter and purify water on the battlefield.

In a recent audit of 44 RIP projects from the 2011 fiscal year, GAO found that only 22 were transitioned to a government acquisition program, a military user, a prime contractor or eventually commercialized. Other DOD tech programs have higher transition rates, often between 55 and 85 percent, the report said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/2015/05/many-projects-pentagons-emerging-tech-program-still-stuck-development/112216

Some DOT contracting officers not certified for high-dollar contracts

Nearly a quarter of Transportation Department contracting officers didn’t comply with certification specifications when working on certain high dollar acquisitions, says an April 9, 2015 DOT inspector general report.

In fiscal 2014, DOT obligated $2 billion on contracts.

To help ensure those contracts meet federal and departmental requirements, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) requires that contracting officers be certified at the appropriate level to correspond with the dollar value of contracts, the report says.

OFPP also directed each agency’s chief acquisition officer to establish agency-specific certification and warrant requirements.

But of the 63 contracting officers GAO reviewed, 15, or about 24 percent, did not fully comply with those requirements.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/some-dot-contracting-officers-not-certified-high-dollar-contracts/2015-04-15

Read the DOT IG’s report here: https://www.oig.dot.gov/sites/default/files/DOT%20Contracting%20Officer%20Certification%20and%20Warrant%20Requirements%20Final%20Report%5E4-9-15.pdf 

Push is on for analysis of approval process required of 8(a) Native American sole-source contracts

Alaskan Congressman Don Young is enlisting a bipartisan group in the House of Representatives to urge Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to swiftly and diligently complete a Department of Defense (DOD) study examining the negative impacts of Section 811 of the Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Native community owned contractors.

“The 8(a) program has been extremely successful in creating an efficient and cost effective contracting option for the government while supporting economic opportunity for some of the most disadvantaged and underemployed populations in the nation,” said Congressman Young. “Since Senator Stevens left the Senate, Native contractors have been under constant attack. Section 811 was snuck into the 2010 NDAA negotiations by the Senate, and ever since then I have repeatedly heard about the confusion, difficulty and damage this Act has caused to our Native contractors.”

Section 811 requires that any 8(a) Native American sole-source contract, in excess of $20 million, go through an overly burdensome approval process. While the measure was sold as a “good governance” provision and did not prohibit or discourage the awarding of such contracts, this heightened scrutiny, not required for any other contractors, has had a chilling effect for contracts.

Keep reading this article at: http://alaska-native-news.com/young-pushes-for-analysis-on-negative-impacts-of-section-811-on-native-owned-contractors-16415

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.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.defenseone.com/management/2015/03/pentagon-cost-major-weapons-systems-are-finally-coming-down/108000/

Pentagon acquisition bosses ‘ho-hum’ on multiple reviews for passing milestones

Defense Department major weapons buyers could streamline the acquisition process by eliminating some reviews in the years-long phase for passing each procurement milestone, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found.

“The process in some instances can include up to 56 organizations at eight levels and accounts for about half of the time needed to complete information requirements,” the watchdog said in a report released Tuesday.

Interviews with 24 program managers and participating organizations on major procurements such as aircraft showed that most “did not think these reviews added significant value to the documentation,” GAO said. “The program managers considered the value added to 10 percent of the documentation to be high,” GAO said in report required by the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. “However, for the remaining 90 percent of the documents, the officials believed the reviews did not add high value.”Sixty-one percent said they provided moderate value while 29 percent said they provided less than moderate.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2015/02/pentagon-acquisition-bosses-ho-hum-multiple-reviews-passing-milestones/106221