Can government be agile?

Agile is having a moment. With a promise of faster and better outcomes for everything from start-ups to the labyrinthine federal government approach to services procurement, the agile way is very much in the spotlight.

But along with this sudden fame comes the inevitable oversimplifications and forced contrasts, such as the supposed clash of the methodologies that pits agile against formal project management.

U.S. Digital ServiceThis is an artificial debate. The truth is that these two approaches can and do co-exist successfully. Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements; agile allows teams to deliver projects piece-by-piece and make rapid adjustments as needed. Agile is not done in place of managing a project. Instead, it is frequently introduced as a way to speed up phases of a project.

TechFAR Handbook TOC 08.2015With its promise of a faster path to the right results and more satisfied customers – especially on complex projects – it’s no wonder that agile is a cornerstone of U.S. CIO Tony Scott’s mission to vastly improve customer satisfaction with federal technology services. This Agenda has already yielded such practical tools as the Digital Services Playbook—actually released and made public by Scott’s predecessor Todd Park—whose 13 plays from proven private sector best practices include Play 4, “Build the service using agile and iterative processes.” There is also the TechFAR Handbook, a helpful guide to flexibilities in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) that can make it easier for agencies to implement plays in the Playbook through acquisition.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/management/blog/2015/08/07/can-government-agile/31293553/

Pentagon’s $11 billion health records deal to be awarded by month’s end

All signs point to the Defense Department awarding its multi-billion Defense Healthcare Management System (DHMS) contract by the end of July.

The Pentagon’s public notice for the contract, which was first released almost 18 months ago, was closed for discussion July 14, one month after DOD’s Office of Inspector General announced it would be looking into DHMS’s acquisition strategy. Bloomberg also reported a DOD spokeswoman confirmed an award would be made by July 31.

The Defense Healthcare Management System  (DHMS) was chartered by the Secretary of Defense in 2013 to improve the health care of active duty military, Veterans, and their beneficiaries by modernizing electronic health care records and establishing seamless medical data sharing between the DoD, the VA, and the private sector.  DHMS is administratively attached to the Defense Health Agency (DHA), with a direct reporting relationship to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (USD AT&L).
The Defense Healthcare Management System (DHMS) was chartered by the Secretary of Defense in 2013 to improve the health care of active duty military, Veterans, and their beneficiaries by modernizing electronic health care records and establishing seamless medical data sharing between the DoD, the VA, and the private sector. DHMS is administratively attached to the Defense Health Agency (DHA), with a direct reporting relationship to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (USD AT&L).

The 10-year contract is one of the largest in recent memory for DOD and is expected to have a total lifecycle value of $11 billion.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/emerging-tech-blog/2015/07/pentagons-11-billion-health-records-deal-be-awarded-months-end/118078

For more information about DHMS, visit: http://www.health.mil/dhms 

GSA to agencies: Don’t use FedRAMP to screen-out potential bidders

Some federal agencies are beginning to require that contracting vendors have FedRAMP authorizations before bidding on cloud computing contracts.

FedRAMPAt first blush, it seems like a good thing that agencies would require contractors to adhere to the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Act, the government’s standardized approach to ensuring security in cloud computing.

Yet because FedRAMP is still only a few years old, making compliance with FedRAMP a prerequisite to bidding on contracts could limit competition.

“Agencies – contracting officers – are starting to require FedRAMP authorizations as a condition for bidding on work,” said Stan Kaczmarczyk, director of the Cloud Computing Services Program Management Office in the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/emerging-tech-blog/2015/06/gsa-agencies-dont-use-fedramp-screen-out-potential-bidders/114256

White House contracting officer talks about flexible way for agencies to procure software

A White House contracting officer is working with the General Services Administration (GSA) to provide agencies with a “simple, quick and flexible” approach to get software applications developed faster through an iterative approach using top industry experts and with less administrative burden.

The contracting officer, Traci Walker, who is also a founding member of the U.S. Digital Service procurement team, talked about how she helped establish the method in which the White House could get a technology platform without locking itself into a service provider through a traditional contract. That success is leading to an effort to push this model out governmentwide.

executive office of the presidentShe talked about her experience during a May 14 “Behind the Buy” podcast interview with Anne Rung, the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP). The podcast series, which debuted in March and has had three episodes, features stories from federal contracting officers about using effective IT contracting strategies to help agencies get what they need.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/white-house-contracting-officer-talks-about-flexible-way-agencies-procure-s/2015-05-18

Does FITARA guidance go far enough in optimizing software licenses?

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee recently held a hearing titled Government Accountability Office’s “Duplication Report at Five Years: Recommendations Remain Unaddressed.”

At the hearing, Beth Cobert, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, testified. She was questioned by committee member, Rep. Tammy Duckworth, from Illinois’ 8th District, who honed in very quickly on the subject of software license optimization:

“I noted that better management of software licenses is an area where savings can be achieved.  Can you please help me understand in OMB’s view how agencies can better manage their software licenses?  Specifically, I’d like to hear how OMB believes agencies should inventory that software to see how much of it is actually deployed to end users, and how much of what’s deployed is actually being put to use.”

US CongressMs. Cobert’s response illustrates the depths of the federal government’s lack of progress in controlling waste due to poor software license management practices. In her testimony, Ms. Colbert noted that the government is developing a system for managing and inventorying its software licenses, which are procured on a highly decentralized basis.

She noted that the recently passed Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act legislation will give the federal CIO more authority in getting agencies to better coordinate and consolidate their buying.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/technology-news/tech-insider/2015/05/why-fitara-guidance-needs-address-software-license-optimization/111814/