NIH-run IT contracting vehicle slashes fees

One of the federal government’s largest governmentwide acquisition vehicles is slashing the fees it charges agencies to purchase IT products and services.

NIHThe National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center — known as NITAAC — announced it would pare back the prices for its three offerings by as much as 35 percent.

The center is one of just three entities authorized by the Office of Management and Budget to manage governmentwide acquisition contracts, or GWACs.

NITAAC officials cited the success of three agency-run programs for the fee drop. In 2015, the center expanded its services, including offering assisted acquisition services to Defense Department agencies.

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Shared services save money, with one caveat

Interagency pooling of routine purchases under the rubric of shared services saves money and improves quality, according to a survey of 300 public and private-sector organizations, newly published in a trio of reports from Deloitte and the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service.

Acquisition Shared ServicesMore than 90 percent of those interviewed about shared services saw cost reductions from the practice and 70 percent witnessed sharper service, according to the researchers, who surveyed acquisition officials in government concentrated in six agencies.

The reports reinforce the Obama administration’s move this October to create a new centralized body to coordinate shared services at the Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration. That is projected to save $1 billion over the next decade.

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Adjusting government buying habits

The White House and General Services Administration’s category management initiative isn’t just the province of procurement offices and the contracting corps. It will have real impact in program offices as well.

ombEven more so as the practice evolves from its current focus on common purchases to those that are unique and critical to the missions of a few or just one agency.

Managing spending by category won’t just change how common goods and services are bought, it will affect why they’re bought. Both ingredients of the “why,” requirements and demand, are generated by programs and need to be aggregated in ways that make sense for effective and efficient acquisition to achieve the desired outcomes of the agency.

The Office of Management and Budget and its Office of Federal Procurement Policy are creating an infrastructure that will affect every agency and everyone involved in acquisition one way or the other.

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OMB tells federal agencies to draw up rapid contracting plans for cyber breaches

The Office of Management and Budget is directing federal agencies and the General Services Administration to come up with a single mechanism to rapidly hire outside expertise the next time a civilian agency’s systems are breached in a cyber attack, reasoning that time will be of the essence and that virtually no agency will have the resources needed to mount an adequate response with in-house staff.

GSA logoWithin the next two months, GSA will need to submit a general plan for the contracting equivalent of a 911 service that would let agencies rapidly plug any freshly-exploited security holes in the event of another cyber breach like the one disclosed by the Office of Personnel Management earlier this year. The actual contract vehicles must be in place and available for any agency’s use, on a reimbursable basis, by the end of next April.

“What we do not want to do is stand up just another paper tiger where you have to run through a bunch of bureaucratic mechanisms to access the assistance when you need it,” Trevor Rudolph, the chief of OMB’s new cyber and national security unit, told a recent cybersecurity conference organized by Federal Times. “The idea here is that the agency has access to the help beforehand, so that when there’s a problem we have help from industry very, very quickly.”

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OMB memo looks to lessen ‘earned value’ certification burden

In a memorandum issued late last month by Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Anne Rung, the Obama administration wants to make at least one certification process a bit easier for chief acquisition officers and senior procurement executives.

OFPPIn the Oct. 23, 2015 memo, the Office of Management and Budget said federal agencies can enter into reciprocity agreements that recognize the Earned Value Management System certifications granted by other agencies.

“Agencies are encouraged to enter into reciprocal agreements with other agencies and to post their EVM processes and procedures on their public websites,” said the new guidance.

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