Could big-data analytics improve federal procurement?

Big data could be an important tool for federal procurement shops, but its usefulness depends on finding quality data and understanding how to use it to track vendor performance and pricing.

Several recent studies — a Government Accountability Office report, a CIO survey by TechAmerica and the IBM Institute for Business Value’s “Chief Procurement Officer Study” — all point to the same conclusion: Analytics and acquisition need to go to more of the same parties.

The Oct. 9 GAO report states that many agencies’ incomplete methods of performing market research affect their ability to make informed decisions about procurements.

Federal agencies are required by law to conduct market research, which the Federal Acquisition Regulation defines as the process used to collect and analyze data about capabilities in the market that could satisfy an agency’s procurement needs.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2014/10/10/big-data-procurement.aspx

GAO: Agencies not taking advantage of market research on lower dollar contracts

Federal agencies are taking advantage of market research for big dollar procurements, but are missing those opportunities for smaller contracts, an Oct. 9, 2014 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report says.

All 28 contracts GAO reviewed included some evidence of the market research conducted. The contracts GAO reviewed were pulled from the Defense Department, Homeland Security Department, Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Department.

The market research conducted on the 12 higher dollar contracts GAO reviewed tended to be more robust and include more techniques that involved outreach to vendors, such as issuing requests for information to industry. That helped promote competition, the report says.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/gao-agencies-not-taking-advantage-market-research-lower-dollar-contracts/2014-10-13

Pentagon’s sole-source contracts continue to dwindle, says GAO

The Defense Department is doing its part to curb the number of sole-source contracts awarded without competition and is properly justifying—in most instances—their use to help develop small, disadvantaged businesses, an audit found.

The Government Accountability Office’s Sept. 9 report to the House and Senate Armed Services committees evaluated sole-source contracts worth more than $20 million under the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program and found that the Pentagon in fiscal 2013 continued a “significant decrease” in such contracts. It awarded five in 2013, each worth $20 million, compared with 27 contracts valued at $2 billion in 2009.

All five of the recent contracts were justified as being “in the best interest of the government,” though three of them failed to fully meet Federal Acquisition Regulation requirements that relevant officials sign off on them in a timely manner.

Fifty-five sole-source contracts were awarded under the 8(a) program over the past four years, the report found, led by the Army with 37, the Navy with 13, the Air Force with two, and three elsewhere in the department.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/defense/2014/09/pentagons-sole-source-contracts-continue-dwindle-says-gao/93899/

GAO says federal agencies need better oversight of contractor-operated systems

Congressional investigators found that several federal agencies are not consistently overseeing security and privacy measures for information systems operated by contractors.

In reviewing six selected agencies, the Government Accountability Office said the agencies generally established security and privacy requirements and had plans to assess the effectiveness of contractor-operated systems. But five of the agencies were inconsistent in such reviews.

For example, the GAO report  released Sept. 9, 2014 said Transportation Department officials responsible for system testing didn’t evaluate whether seven contractor employees had the required background investigation.

“When they did so in response to our audit, they found that three of them did not,” GAO investigators said. “Officials stated that they subsequently removed system access rights for the three contractor employees until their background investigations had been completed.”

Besides DOT, GAO also reviewed the Energy, Homeland Security, and State departments as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and Office of Personnel Management.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/gao-says-federal-agencies-need-better-oversight-contractor-operated-systems/2014-09-10 

 

GAO: Most agencies still not providing complete data on contractors’ past performance

Although their level of compliance has improved over the last year, most federal agencies still haven’t met established governmentwide targets for providing complete, timely and accurate information on contractors’ past performance, congressional investigators found.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said compliance among the top 10 agencies – based on the number of contracts that each agency needed to evaluate – varied greatly, ranging from 13 percent to 83 percent, as of April.

Only two departments – Defense and Treasury – had compliance rates above 65 percent, said the GAO report released Aug. 7.

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy, or OFPP, which has been trying to improve agency compliance on this issue, had wanted all such departments to reach or exceed that 65-percent threshold by the end of fiscal 2013, GAO said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/gao-most-agencies-still-not-providing-complete-data-contractors-past-perfor/2014-08-12

$619 billion missing from federal transparency site

A government website intended to make federal spending more transparent is missing at least $619 billion from 302 federal programs, a government audit has found.

And the data that does exist is wildly inaccurate, according to the Government Accountability Office, which looked at 2012 spending data. Only 2 percent to 7 percent of spending data onUSASpending.gov is “fully consistent with agencies’ records,” according to the report.

Among the data missing from the 6-year-old federal website:

■ The Department of Health and Human Services failed to report nearly $544 billion, mostly in direct assistance programs like Medicare. The department admitted that it should have reported aggregate numbers of spending on those programs.

■ The Department of the Interior did not report spending for 163 of its 265 assistance programs because, the department said, its accounting systems were not compatible with the data formats required by USASpending.gov. The result: $5.3 billion in spending missing from the website.

■ The White House itself failed to report any of the programs it’s directly responsible for. At the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is part of the White House, officials said they thought HHS was responsible for reporting their spending.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140805/MGMT02/308050017/-619-billion-missing-from-federal-transparency-site

Agencies often fail to report contractors’ performance

Most of the top federal government agencies have not complied with regulations requiring them to report contractors’ performance to a central database used by government purchasers, according to a recent report by Congress’s watchdog.

While the agencies showed improvement, only two of the 10 departments surveyed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) met their goal, investigators found, which stymies the government’s ability to know if it is dealing with reputable firms.

“Government agencies rely on contractors to perform a broad array of activities to meet their missions,” the GAO wrote. “Therefore, complete and timely information on contractors’ past performance is critical to ensure the government does business only with companies that deliver quality goods and services on time and within budget.”

The shared database acts like Yelp or Angie’s List — Web sites where consumers rate all sorts of businesses — for government purchasers, who spend billions of dollars annually.

Keep  reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/agencies-often-fail-to-report-contractors-performance/2014/08/08/87cc1f76-1f02-11e4-82f9-2cd6fa8da5c4_story.html

Federal agencies falling short in providing accurate, complete federal award data, GAO says

Information about grants and loans found on a federal awards website isn’t as reliable as it should be, said congressional investigators, adding that greater oversight is needed.

The Government Accountability Office said agencies provided incomplete and inaccurate information about such assistance awards — totaling about $619 billion — on USASpending.gov, a publicly accessible website designed to improve transparency and accountability on federal spending.

However, GAO noted in its report released Aug. 1 that agencies largely provided complete information about awarded government contracts.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/federal-agencies-falling-short-providing-accurate-complete-federal-award-da/2014-08-03

Quality cost data is key to making better management decisions

Cost estimating may not be as exciting as the new baseball season or the competition on American Idol, but for anyone in management, it is absolutely vital, if somewhat less entertaining. Especially if you’re involved in program management, procurement or finance you rely on high quality cost estimates every day.  Why?  Because they provide the foundation for informed decision-making.

As such, it’s essential for managers to be able to distinguish between two important, but very different (and often confused) types of cost estimates: life cycle cost estimates (LCCEs) and independent government cost estimates (IGCEs).

This table compares and contrasts the two types of estimates, to help decision-makers determine which one they need to utilize.

This table compares and contrasts the two types of estimates, to help decision-makers determine which one they need to utilize.

Life cycle cost estimates take a comprehensive view of a program. They include all costs, whether incurred by the government or the contractor, including labor, materials, facilities, hardware, software and integration costs, and sometimes even imputed costs. Life cycle cost estimates can be for 30 years or more. For high dollar programs, LCCEs are required by many government agencies at various acquisition milestones. For example, on very large programs the Defense Department requires LCCEs at three milestones before projects can proceed. Given the scope and duration of LCCEs, they are treated as living documents that should be updated annually.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2014/07/quality-cost-data-key-making-better-management-decisions/87946/

Oracle files pre-award protest to DISA cloud storage contract

Oracle Corp. has filed a protest to a $427 million cloud storage contract for the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) even before it’s been awarded.

The company has filed a pre-award protest involving the Enterprise Storage Services II contract to provide a state-of-the-art storage capacity to replace the DISA’s existing technology.

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Oracle filed the protest on June 25.  The agency will make a decision by October 3.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/oracle-files-pre-award-protest-disa-cloud-storage-contract/2014-07-01

See solicitation documents at: https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=b69e716000296e561f0bd63a52795024&_cview=0