Agencies must improve payment card security by year end

In the wake of massive data breaches involving consumer credit cards, President Barack Obama signed an executive order Friday to strengthen security measures on government credit, debit and payment cards and the readers that scan them.

The new order — part of the president’s BuySecure initiative — requires federal agencies to use chip-and-PIN security on all government-issued cards and update card readers to work with new technology.

“With over 100 million Americans falling victim to data breaches over the last year and millions suffering from credit card fraud and identity crimes, there is a need to act — and to move our economy toward stronger, more secure technologies that better secure transaction and safeguard sensitive date,” the White House said in a statement.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20141017/IT/310170022/Agencies-must-improve-payment-card-security-by-year-end 

Feds buy back USASpending website after contractor bankruptcy

The government procured its own spending transparency website and the primary data system behind it on the same day last month the contract to manage the systems was set to expire, new documents show.

The move frees up previously contested federal contracting data, which will facilitate increased competition for future contracts, according to outside observers and the General Services Administration.

It’s unclear if the purchase became necessary to keep the site running or if the opportunity arose as a result of Global Computer Enterprises, Inc.’s financial instability, which led to a bankruptcy filing last month.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/big-data/2014/10/feds-buy-back-usaspending-website-after-contractor-bankruptcy/96251/

IG: GSA reduces credit card spending, needs more reform

Although more controls are needed, legislation to assist General Services Administration efforts to prevent waste, fraud and abuse at charge card programs has largely been helpful, an internal investigation found.

In an audit dated Sept. 29, the GSA’s inspector general said that GSA’s purchase card spending between fiscal years 2011 and 2013 fell from more than $69.3 million to about $33.6 million, and travel card spending declined from $17.1 million to about $4.2 million.

“We determined that the risks of illegal, improper, or erroneous purchases and payments made through GSA’s purchase card and travel card programs are medium and low, respectively,” the report states. “As such, we do not plan to conduct any audits of the purchase card or travel card programs in FY 2015.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/ig-gsa-reduces-credit-card-spending-needs-more-reform/2014-10-01

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IG finds faults in training of contracting officer’s representatives in GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service

A federal certification program, which establishes general training, experience, development and best practices for contracting officer’s representatives, isn’t being applied consistently, potentially leaving them without the necessary skills, abilities and competencies to do their jobs, a recent audit found.

Additionally, the General Services Administration’s inspector general said in the Sept. 29 report that a system designed to oversee the workload and certification status of contracting officer’s representative’s, or CORs, is only accessible to a few managers and supervisors. This means some CORs could possibly conduct unsanctioned work, opening the government up to potential legal problems.

Contracting officers authorize CORs to perform specific technical and administrative duties on contracts or orders. These CORs ensure that federal contractors meet their performance requirements and typically identify if a contractor or program is underperforming.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/gsa-ig-finds-faults-contracting-officers-representatives-training-program/2014-10-01

Read the IG’s report at: http://www.gsaig.gov/index.cfm/oig-reports/audit-reports/fy-2014-audit-reports-october-1-2013-to-september-30-2014/

Just one more GSA Schedule workshop before year’s end

If your business is thinking about going after a GSA Schedule contract, you have one more chance to obtain expert advice and consulting before the end of the year.

 

The last GSA Schedule Proposal Preparation Workshop for 2014 — presented by Georgia Tech’s Contracting Education Academy — will be presented on Nov. 17 and 18, 2014 on the Georgia Tech campus in midtown Atlanta.  (Click here to register.)

So far, 52 persons have attended Georgia Tech’s GSA Workshop since it was launched at the beginning of the year.  Folks came from 10 states to attend the Workshop, and 100% of the attendees rate the Workshop as having met or exceeded their expectations.  More importantly, every single businessperson who’s attended has either prepared their proposal or submitted it to GSA for award.

What Attendees Are Saying

Here are typical statements made by attendees:

  • “I received a vast amount of information on how to apply for a GSA Schedule contract.  I valued the one-on-one question-answering provided by the instructors.”
  • “I expected a canned presentation consisting of a lot of theoretical advice, but I received practical and specific help to understand the GSA application.  I really valued the instructor’s knowledge and communication skills.”
  • “This workshop provided excellent advice and training, walking through all the documents in detail.  I valued the relaxed environment, the ability to work at my own pace, and the ability to ask lots of questions.”
  • “I now have a complete understanding of the step-by-step process to complete my company’s proposal to the GSA.  The workbook, examples, templates, and the presentation – all very well put together.”
  • “I expected a great presentation from Georgia Tech, but was afraid of information overload.  The presenter and the presentation were fantastic …. I now have a much clearer idea of how to get on a GSA Schedule.”
  • “I received one-on-one assistance with filling-out various proposal forms and walking through the submission and upload process.  Fantastic!”
  • “I received significant information and background on what GSA reviewers and contracting officers are looking for, and I valued the forms for completing my GSA Schedule proposal and building my pricing.”

The Facts about GSA Schedules

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 a GSA Schedule contract begins with a proposal, an arduous task that often takes several months to prepare. But, now, thanks to Georgia Tech’s Workshop, a GSA proposal can be actually completed during 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.

Workshop Benefits

By attending Georgia Tech’s GSA Schedule Proposal Preparation Workshop, you will:

  • Save time and money with instructor-guided, do-it-yourself approach.
  • Avoid mistakes that can delay or stop a GSA Schedule proposal from being considered.
  • Receive expert guidance, hands-on help, and answers to all of your questions.
  • Be given access to exclusive 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.

Registration Details

Remember, Nov. 17 and 18 is your next chance to attend.  Don’t miss out!  To register, simply click here. If you have questions or need further information, please email info@ContractingAcademy.gatech.edu.

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Former GSA official Jeff Neely indicted for fraudulent claims

A former high-ranking official General Services Administration official has been indicted for making fraudulent reimbursement claims.

Jeff Neely, the former region nine administrator at GSA, organized a lavish 2010 Las Vegas conference that cost almost $823,000 and prompted an investigation that forced the resignation of top officials at the agency and the firing of several others. He told conference organizers he wanted the conference to be “over the top.”

Neely was indicted by a federal grand jury for making fraudulent reimbursement claims for personal travel and expenses on trips to Las Vegas, California, Guam and Saipan. Neely told employees those expenses were for official business.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140926/MGMT/309260014/Former-GSA-official-indicted-fraudulent-claims

Reps ask GSA to affirm commitment to AbilityOne

The letter comes in the wake of a move by GSA earlier this year to decentralize some of their distribution methods, contracting with vendors to handle parts of the supply chain. The National Industries for the Blind, which the GSA formerly contracted through directly, initiated the letter from congressional representatives to remind the agency of its legal commitments under the Javits-Wagner-O’Day (JWOD) Act and AbilityOne program.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140919/ACQ01/309190015/Reps-ask-GSA-affirm-commitment-AbilityOne

Contracting officers: Take a look, it’s in a book

A bill to reform how the government buys and manages technology came up this week at a hearing about the security of HealthCare.gov — but contracting officers willing to plunge into some heavy reading may discover they already have a lot of the capability they need.

While Republicans grilled Obamacare officials about a recent hack — and other vulnerabilities — of their signature website, one Democrat used the occasion to plug what may be his favorite piece of pending legislation: The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, or FITARA.

“Isn’t information security related to how well we’re managing our IT assets?” Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., asked officials. He gave a brief description of what FITARA would do for IT managers; the bill actually has plenty of support and seems only to await action.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/emerging-tech-blog/2014/09/you-already-have-power-procure-it-look-within/94607/

The GSA Digital Service’s TechFAR Handbook can be found at: https://github.com/WhiteHouse/playbook/blob/gh-pages/_includes/techfar-online.md

The case for experimenting on federal buildings

The government wants to try out new and potentially “transformational” green technologies on its buildings through a program that could give private sector participants a leg up in the future.

The idea is to evaluate emerging green technologies and use the findings to “inform decision-making within GSA, other federal agencies and the real estate industry in deploying the technologies studied,” the General Services Administration said in a call for information.

Qualifying technologies must be “sufficiently mature that all required laboratory or other proof-of-concept work has been completed,” but not “already broadly in use and readily available in the marketplace,” the solicitation document said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/2014/09/case-experimenting-federal-buildings/94238/

Changes announced to GSA Schedules in professional services categories

The General Services Administration has announced a series of changes to its professional services Schedule offerings in order to reduce the number of contracts vendors manage and consolidate contract vehicles.

GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service removed the special item number of non-professional service from the current consolidated schedule, expect for information technology and human resources, the agency said last week.

Tiffany Hixson, professional services category executive for FAS, described the agency’s approach to contract consolidation last week ahead of this announcement (click here to read previous coverage).

GSA said it made the move to “eliminate the need to submit separate offers for professional services; firms would have the ability to submit a modification request instead – this equates to a substantial decrease in time required to add new services.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.executivegov.com/2014/09/gsa-details-professional-services-schedule-changes/