Clearing up confusion about data on nonfederal systems

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is looking for input on a government guide on how to handle sensitive federal information that resides in nonfederal systems and organizations.

Last fall, NIST issued recommendations for securing sensitive data on IT systems at companies that work for the government. The draft standards, released Nov. 18, are aimed at contractors and other nonfederal organizations that store controlled but unclassified information (CUI) in the course of their work.

At the time, NIST officials told FCW that nonfederal organizations must try to meet a wide range of contract clauses. “Conflicting guidance” from multiple agencies can lead to “confusion and inefficiencies” about how to handle sensitive federal information in nonfederal information systems that include contractors, state and local governments, and colleges and universities.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2015/04/07/nist-data-guidance.aspx

Navy launches ‘Innovation Cell’ to speed IT acquisition

It’s almost accepted as a truism in the modern era that the federal acquisition system simply isn’t up to the challenge of buying information technology. But IT leaders in the Navy suspect the problem isn’t so much the regulatory scheme itself, but the way it’s historically been applied to technology purchases.

To test that premise, on Thursday, the Navy’s program executive office for enterprise information systems will formally launch what it terms its Innovation Cell, a nascent effort to begin rapidly inserting relevant commercial technologies into Navy networks without a single change to the Federal Acquisition Regulation. PEO- EIS will begin by presenting industry with three “enterprise challenge statements” at an industry day in Tysons Corner, Virginia, one focused on big data analytics, another on enhanced virtual desktops and one seeking an end-user productivity suite.

“There are too many products that you can go down to Best Buy and purchase today, but we don’t have in our enterprise,” Capt. Paul Ghyzel, the deputy program executive officer, said in an interview with Federal News Radio previewing the innovation cell. “It’s for various reasons. Some of them, like security, are valid, but in other cases, it’s just that the model we use to acquire them today doesn’t lend itself to taking advantage to what’s already in the marketplace. When we build the next generation of aircraft carrier, we have to make the investment. In IT, the commercial companies are already making the investment, and we need to leverage that.”

The “cell” is more a framework than a physical place, and will serve several functions in the Navy’s acquisition ecosystem, officials said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/885/3824927/On-DoD-Navy-launches-Innovation-Cell-to-speed-IT-acquisition

One sure sign of whether ‘Acquisition 360′ will actually matter

FCW ran a story late last week on a March 18 memo from Anne Rung, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, to agency chief acquisition officers and senior procurement executives, entitled “Acquisition 360 – Improving the Acquisition Process through Timely Feedback from External and Internal Stakeholders.” The memo also got a fair amount of attention on the Twittersphere.

By “360 feedback,” of course, Rung means that everybody rates everybody else. So the memo establishes a program, starting with major IT acquisitions, for surveys to obtain contractor feedback to the government, program office feedback to the contracting office, and contracting office feedback to the program office.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/blogs/lectern/2015/03/comment-acquisition-360.aspx

Another proposal from GSA is class deviation for commercial agreements

March has been a busy month for the General Services Administration (GSA) in its efforts to implement what it has touted as a “new vision for Federal purchasing.”

On March 5, 2014, GSA announced a proposed rule to reform pricing practices and contractor reporting requirements under multiple award schedule contracts.

In its latest move, on March 20, 2015, the GSA issued a proposal to streamline the negotiation of Commercial Supplier Agreements, which are commonly used in acquisitions of software and other information technology. Such agreements typically contain standard contract terms that GSA regards as inappropriate in the context of a sale to the government. As a result, protracted negotiations with GSA are often necessary to reach agreement on acceptable terms before software and other items can be offered for sale on the Federal Supply Schedule.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.natlawreview.com/article/another-proposal-gsa-class-deviation-commercial-agreements

IT buying experiments preview ‘Acquisition of the Future’

“Acquisition of the Future” is an initiative that seeks to frame a vision in which acquisition creates significant new value for the government through fresh approaches, modern technologies and a new generation’s capabilities.

Participants include a growing number of federal executives, industry leaders, notable academics and rising acquisition professionals who have been meeting since 2013 to create a framework for what federal acquisition can become, to meet the demands of the Collaboration Age — and beyond.

Acquisition of the Future supporters are continuing their quest to find and capture real-world examples that uncover emerging trends. AOF leverages these initiatives to demonstrate the new value that vibrant, forward-focused federal acquisition can provide, and that model the strategic decision-making and investments required now to transform the future.

Especially in the realm of information technology, such experiments are emerging everywhere. That’s not surprising, because technology is one of the chief disruptors driving change and creating higher expectations in government, society, industry and our economy. Because IT is evolving so rapidly, government has difficulty acquiring, modernizing and maintaining it in a way that keeps pace with innovation and commercial best practices. And current government buying processes and culture make it difficult for agencies to keep apprised and take advantage of the pace of technological innovation. Consequently, IT is a hotbed of acquisition experimentation.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2015/01/22/preview-acquisition-of-the-future.aspx

High risk list: Government IT acquisitions fail ‘too frequently’

The new federal chief information officer, Tony Scott, has his work cut out for him. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today is adding information technology acquisition to its high-profile list of “high-risk” federal programs.

Despite a raft of reforms over the course of the Obama administration, “federal IT investments too frequently fail or incur cost overruns and schedule slippages while contributing little to mission-related outcomes,” the 2015 update to GAO’s High-Risk List states.

The government has wasted billions on botched IT projects that fail to deliver promised – or any – functionality and have been mothballed. Even more programs are still on the books, but remain at risk of falling behind. And hundreds of watchdog recommendations for improving the state of federal IT acquisitions have gone unaddressed.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2015/02/high-risk-list-government-it-projects-fail-too-frequently/105063

GAO’s ‘high-risk list’ now includes IT acquisition

The Government Accountability Office’s High-Risk List, which calls Congress’ attention to problematic, risky or troubled programs, is about to receive two high-profile additions.

Multiple Capitol Hill sources with knowledge of the list confirmed to Nextgov that IT acquisition and operations and veteran health care are being included on the watchdog’s list.

The news is hardly surprising, given the steady stream of criticism and negative headlines those two areas have generated since GAO last updated its biennial High-Risk List in February 2013.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2015/02/it-acquisition-and-veteran-health-care-added-gaos-high-risk-list/104832/

What if the problem isn’t the rules, but the people?

One school of thought holds that the rules and regulations governing the federal acquisition process are so byzantine that the government simply can’t get access to the latest technology in a timely fashion.

But what if the problem isn’t the rules, but the people who must work within them?

At an event in Washington on Tuesday, the National Academy of Public Administration and ICF International unveiled the results of their Federal Leaders Digital Insight Study. Among the subjects covered in the survey of senior federal leaders was the technology acquisition system.

The study found that while there certainly are problems in buying and implementing the latest technology in government, “many federal leaders believe that these problems are the result of execution of the procurement process rather than regulatory requirements.” While nearly 40 percent of the more than 500 survey respondents had some influence in the procurement process, only one of them cited problems with the Federal Acquisition Regulation in written comments.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/federal-news/fedblog/2015/01/what-if-problem-isnt-rules-people/102792/

IG: Navy and Marine Corps reasonably justified IT contracts with little or no competition

The Navy and Marine Corps reasonably justified about $220 million worth of IT contracts that were solicited without full and open competition, says the Defense Department’s inspector general in a report issued Jan. 23.

The IG reviewed 66 Navy and Marine Corps IT contracts that used “other than full and open competition” to procure technology services, with 34 being sole-source contracts and the other 32 limiting competition in some way.

The 34 sole-source contracts were valued at $151.5 million, with the rest coming in around $70 million, the report says.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/ig-navy-and-marine-corps-justified-it-contracts-little-or-no-competition/2015-01-26

VA still needs to improve oversight of project management system for IT projects, audit says

The Veterans Affairs Department has taken steps to improve a project management process designed to make sure its IT projects are completed and delivered on time, but an internal audit found that accountability and oversight still need to be strengthened.

The department’s inspector general issued a follow-up audit Jan. 22, 2015 to the development of the Project Management Accountability System, or PMAS, that was begun back in 2009.

“PMAS represented a major shift from the way VA historically planned and managed IT projects because it focuses on delivering functionality in increments instead of delivering a complete product at the end of the project,” the IG’s report said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/va-still-needs-improve-oversight-project-management-system-it-projects-audi/2015-01-26