Government’s biggest failures: 2001-2014

With scandals at agencies ranging from the IRS to the Veterans Affairs Department fresh in the public’s mind, a longtime scholar of federal management has published a new assessment of government’s failures since 2001.

In the paper, called A Cascade of Failures: Why Government Fails, and How to Stop It, Paul C. Light, the Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service at New York University, examines 41 stories that resonated with the public in a major way, using the Pew Research Center’s News Interest Index as a yardstick. The nonpartisan index, which has been published since 1986, attempts to measure how closely Americans are following stories covered by news organizations.

“Federal failures have become so common that they are less of a shock to the public than an expectation,” Light writes. At the same time, he adds, “I did not write this paper as yet another cudgel against ‘big government.’ As I have long argued, the federal government creates miracles every day, often in spite of tighter budgets, persistent criticism and complex missions.”

Light concludes in the study that government failures have been increasing over time, from an average of 1.6 per year from 1986 to 2001 to 3 per year after that.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/management/2014/07/governments-biggest-failures-2001-2014/88678/

For the full list of 41 failures Light assessed, click here.

Teaching feds not to fear the FAR

From the General Services Administration’s 18F technology incubator and Health and Human Services’ emerging Buyers Club program to the Office of Management and Budget’s TechFAR guide, federal procurement officials have been busy rolling out plans aimed at reshaping the way government thinks about buying and developing IT.

Those officials are hoping the programs will spur the conservative, risk-averse federal procurement culture to more keenly navigate existing regulations and take more chances in IT acquisition.

The dense Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) issued by the Department of Defense, GSA, and NASA, is a primary target of the programs. More than a few federal officials and technology vendors have grown disillusioned with the FAR – or rather with how it has been used — arguing that it is wielded far too conservatively and is offers far more room for innovative than it’s given credit for.

Frustration with stagnant, staid FAR thinking spurred Health and Human Services to develop its Buyers Club program this spring. HHS officials talked publicly about development of the program in May, rolled out a Buyer’s Club web site June 24 and plan to accelerate the effort in the coming months, Bryan Sivak, HHS chief technology officer, told FCW.

Sivak said the program’s goal is to blaze new trails through the FAR that HHS contracting officers can follow to more efficient, innovative and successful IT procurement. Citing a Standish Group study that estimated roughly 90 percent of federal IT procurements valued at over $10 million fail, Sivak said it was obvious old thinking was not cutting it.  “Even if that estimate is a little on the high side, the numbers are still too way too high,” he said. “With those numbers, what’s the risk of trying to do something new?”

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2014/07/14/far-fearing-feds.aspx 

GSA looks to ramp up contracting transformation with Alliant and Alliant II

As the General Services Administration (GSA) works to transform government contracting and consolidate agency spending under its roof, it is also working on a sequel to its highly successful IT services Alliant governmentwide acquisition contract.

The Alliant contract for complex and innovative IT services has served as a purchasing option for 54 agencies that have spent more than $16.5 billion.

GSA recently extended the option on the contract through to April 2019. To prepare for the sequel, GSA is also asking industry for input on possible emerging IT technologies and services on its social media site, Interact.

Casey Kelley, the director of GSA’s Governmentwide Acquisition Contract Center and the Alliant program manager, said the sequel to Alliant will offer agencies a flexible contract that can adapt to new IT technologies and services as they emerge.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140623/DEPARTMENTS/306120021/GSA-looks-ramp-up-contracting-transformation-Alliant-Alliant-II

Denied bid protests don’t guarantee smooth sailing for GSA’s office supply contract

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently denied bid protests for the Office Supplies 3 (OS3) strategic sourcing contract, but that doesn’t mean its clearing sailing for the General Services Administration (GSA).

The GAO found the GSA met requirements to evaluate the economic impact the strategic sourcing contract has on small businesses, even though the Small Business Administration recently said GSA failed to do so.

“GSA conducted market research and considered alternatives to the procurement approach set forth in the solicitation,” the June 9 decision says.

The GSA says that means OS3 will move forward.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/denied-bid-protests-dont-guarantee-smooth-sailing-os3/2014-06-11

Missouri businesses and counselors receive Academy’s help in preparing GSA Schedules

June 11 and 12 were important days for a group of business people from across the state of Missouri.

Those are the dates on which The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech conducted two full days of detailed instruction on how to successfully prepare a proposal to win a GSA Schedule contract.  In all, eleven businesses learned the process, representing industry sectors as diverse as custom kitchen equipment, technology products and services, vehicle sales, truck equipment, remediation services, medical supplies, recycling, shoes, and clothing.

The businesses participating in the workshop were joined by a group of nine business counselors from the states of Missouri, Illinois and Ohio.  The counselors represented procurement technical assistance centers (PTACs) from each of those states.  PTACs provide assistance to businesses seeking advice on how to compete for and win government contracts.

Missouri businesses joined PTAC counselors from three states to learn the intricacies of the GSA Schedule process.

Missouri businesses joined PTAC counselors from three states to learn the intricacies of the GSA Schedule process.

The process to be awarded a GSA Schedule contract begins with a proposal, an arduous task that typically takes several months to prepare. But, now, thanks to Georgia Tech’s workshop, a GSA proposal can be actually completed at the Workshop.   If a business is not prepared to submit all the documentation at the time of the Workshop, the GSA proposal preparation process easily can be shortened to within 30 days following the Workshop.

Here’s what participants had to say about the Academy’s recent workshop in St. Louis:

  • “I valued the complete fashion in which the course was presented as well as the great materials provided.”
  • “I received a wealth of knowledge from a team of experts that have real-world experience.”
  • “It was helpful that you shared documents in advance of the workshop.  I appreciate the templates and samples.”
  • “I got information in 5 minutes that I have been researching for months!”
  • “I valued everything — the professionalism of the instructors, the learning environment, and especially the course materials.”
  • “The instructor took time with each classmate.”
  • “The commercial sales practices information that I received is very valuable as well as the sample commercial price list and the proposal price list template.”
  • “The one-in-one instruction and help from the instructors was invaluable.”
  • “This training is a far better value than more costly workshops on GSA Schedules.”
  • “I received information on marketing to agencies and how to find contracting officers.”
  • “You made the process seem simple.”
  • “The one-on-one help was great — fantastic teaching, clear answers!  I valued the patience of the instructional staff and their friendly and helpful demeanor.” 
  • “I now have a manual/workbook to refer to.”
  • “I got more than I expected, including how the GSA Schedule is beneficial and how to get where we want to go.”
  • “I received information about the process as well as examples and templates, and I value the examples, templates and individual instruction.”
  • “The presentation was straightforward and calm — it reduced my anxiety about a process that is complex!”
  • “I valued the one-on-one assistance and the down-time to actually complete the forms.”
  • “I received a lot of how-to’s, what not to do, forms to use, where to find my competition, pricing how-to’s, etc.”
  • “Everything about the workshop was valuable — the professionalism of the instructors, the learning environment, and especially the course materials.”
  • “Exceptional workshop!  Well worth the money!”

The June 11 and 12 workshop was held on St. Louis University’s Florissant Valley campus, and was hosted by the Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers.  Future GSA Schedule Workshops are scheduled for:

  • July 28-29 – Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus
  • Sept. 8-9 – Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus
  • Nov. 17-18 – Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus

To register for any of the upcoming workshops, please click here.  To make arrangements for a GSA Schedule Workshop to be held in your community, please email: info@contractingacademy.gatech.edu.

By attending Georgia Tech’s GSA Schedule Workshop, participants:

  • Save time and money with our instructor-guided, do-It-yourself approach.
  • Avoid mistakes that can delay or stop your GSA Schedule proposal from being considered.
  • Receive expert guidance, valuable instruction, a detailed guidebook, and answers to all of your questions.
  • Gain access to templates and sample narratives based on successful GSA Schedule offers.
  • Receive up to 4 hours of consulting after the Workshop to review your package and receive further advice.
  • Earn 15 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits.

GSA Schedule Contract

 

Another contractor protests GSA’s professional services contract

More companies are piling on bid protests against the General Services Administration’s OASIS contract, according to documents filed with the Government Accountability Office.

IT service contractor Phacil Inc., is the latest of five companies to protest the award. Smartronix, Inc., VSE Corporation, American Systems Corporation, the Logistics Management Institute and Aljucar, Anvil-Incus & Company all filed protests May 27. Aljucar, Anvil-Incus & Company also filed bid protests during the pre-award phase of the contract, which were denied.

GSA awarded its 10-year, multibillion dollar OASIS contract to 74 companies on May 19. OASIS is governmentwide acquisition contract that offers professional services, such as financial management and engineering, scientific and logistics services. OASIS also features separate contracts for small businesses and larger firms and is valued at around $6 billion a year in agency business.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140604/ACQ01/306040017/Another-contractor-protests-GSA-OASIS-contract

Also see earlier article on initial protests to OASIS contract award: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140529/ACQ01/305290008/First-protests-filed-GSA-s-OASIS

Also see earlier article on the award of the OASIS contract: http://www.federaltimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014305190012

DOL could go it alone with acquisition platform

The Labor Department is seeking information on commercial capabilities that could help it better manage acquisition information as a subscription.

The department is interested in a dashboard that could provide access to regular acquisition news updates, and access to Government Accountability Office and other legal decisions, it writes in a May 12 request for information posted to Federal Business Opportunities.

This platform would also provide easy access to forms, templates and checklists, as well as other acquisition related tools and information.

Although the post is not a direct solicitation, even the department’s interest in such technology is notable given the concurrent efforts already underway within government to address the acquisition process.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/dol-could-go-it-alone-acquisition-platform/2014-05-15

GSA Schedule Workshop continues to be a hit

Business persons attending The Contracting Education Academy’s GSA Schedule Proposal Preparation Workshop continue to give it high marks.

Take a look at the written comments provided by attendees at our May 19-20, 2014 Workshop:

  • “I received exactly what we expected – a step by step process to quickly and efficiently submit our GSA Schedule.”
  • “I valued [the instructor’s] passion and expertise for this process.  I received valuable information and instruction regarding Schedule preparation, including templates and a student workbook.”
  • “I look forward to having a chance to do more with The Contracting Education Academy in the future.  The GSA Seminar was very beneficial and time well spent.  Thank You!”
  • “I valued the format, the knowledge of the instructor, the delivery, the materials, and the ROI.”
  • “Excellent detail in instruction and structure for the session.  I valued the time to actually work on my proposal sections.”
  • “I got exactly what I expected – to leave with confidence that we could completely submit our GSA Schedule proposal with a high degree of likely success.”
  • “I valued the time to complete sections of our GSA Schedule during class.”
  • “I received a comprehensive understanding of the GSA process.  The binder and resource materials have been very helpful.”
  • “[The instructor] was able to answer all questions immediately!  The templates provided are wonderful.”
Ten business executives, representing six firms, attended The Contracting Academy's May 2014 GSA Schedule Proposal Preparation Workshop.

Ten business executives, representing six firms, attended The Contracting Academy’s May 2014 GSA Schedule Proposal Preparation Workshop.

Is your company considering going after a GSA Schedule contract?  Maybe you should.  Consider these facts:

  • The federal General Services Administration (GSA) awards about $50 billion in blanket contracts known as “Schedules” to hundreds of companies each year.
  • Eighty percent (80%) of Schedule contractors are small businesses who are successful at 36% of those sales.

The process to win one of these contracts begins with a proposal, an arduous task that typically takes several months to prepare. But, now, thanks to Georgia Tech’s Workshop, a GSA proposal can be actually completed at the Workshop.   If a business is not prepared to submit all the documentation at the time of the Workshop, the GSA proposal preparation process easily can be shortened to within 30 days following the Workshop.

By attending our Workshop, you will:

  • Save time and money with our instructor-guided, do-It-yourself approach.
  • Avoid mistakes that can delay or stop your GSA Schedule proposal from being considered.
  • Receive expert guidance, valuable instruction, and answers to all of your questions.
  • Gain access to templates and sample narratives based on successful GSA Schedule offers.
  • Receive up to 4 hours of consulting after the Workshop to review your package and receive further advice.
  • Earn 15 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits.

GSA Schedule Workshops are scheduled for:

  • June 11-12 – St. Louis
  • July 28-29 – Atlanta
  • Sept. 8-9 – Atlanta
  • Nov. 17-18 – Atlanta

To register, simply click here.

GSA Schedule Contract

Industry group challenges GSA’s telecom services strategy

The General Services Administration’s strategy for its next-generation telecommunications services contract could exclude a huge segment of providers and duplicate some federal contract offerings, according to a procurement industry group.

GSA issued a request for information for Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) in April; comments are due by May 8.

The RFI is part of GSA’s effort to develop a comprehensive framework and acquisition strategy for Network Services 2020, which will become the federal government’s strategic sourcing center for network-based and network-enabled services. The agency plans to solicit bids for NS2020 in fiscal 2015.

According to Roger Waldron, president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, the plan sets up small and midsize suppliers to fail. The organization’s concerns relate to the scope of services envisioned under the RFI and the designation of mandatory versus optional services, he added.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2014/05/05/industry-group-gsa-telecom-strategy.aspx?admgarea=TC_Management

GSA Schedule prep workshop to be held in St. Louis on June 11 and 12

The Contracting Education Academy’s popular GSA Schedule Proposal Preparation Workshop will be conducted in St. Louis, Missouri on June 11 and 12, 2014.

The Georgia Tech workshop helps businesses complete – in as little as two days – a proposal to obtain a GSA Schedule contract.

The federal General Services Administration (GSA) awards about $50 billion in blanket contracts known as “Schedules” to hundreds of companies each year. Eighty percent (80%) of Schedule contractors are small businesses who are successful at 36% of those sales. The process to win one of these contracts begins with a proposal, an arduous task that typically takes several months to prepare.

Now, thanks to Georgia Tech’s workshop, a GSA proposal can be actually completed at the workshop. If a business is not prepared to submit all the documentation during the workshop, the GSA proposal preparation process easily can be shortened to within 30 days following the workshop.

By attending this workshop, business people save time and money with an instructor-guided, do-It-yourself approach as well as avoid mistakes that typically delay or stop GSA Schedule proposals from being considered. Attendees receive expert guidance and valuable instructional documents, including templates and sample narratives based on successful GSA Schedule offers. Fifteen (15) Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits are granted to each person successfully completing the workshop.

The GSA Schedule Proposal Preparation Workshop is conducted by experienced government contracting professionals who have helped many businesses successfully land GSA Schedule contracts. Real world business scenarios are presented during this instructional session, tackling all the difficult and confusing aspects of the proposal process. As an added bonus, The Academy provides workshop attendees with four hours of time with instructional personnel – after the workshop – to answer any remaining questions, review proposal packages, and provide follow-on consulting.

The St. Louis GSA Schedule Proposal Preparation Workshop will be held on the Florissant Valley campus of St. Louis Community College, located in north St. Louis County. To register for this one-of-a-kind Workshop, please click here or visit: http://tinyurl.com/kv2by74.