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

DoD leader raises an eyebrow over proposed acquisition reforms

Both the House and Senate versions of this year’s Defense authorization bill include numerous acquisition reform provisions. But the Pentagon has serious reservations about a few of those measures, including one that would give the military’s uniformed leaders more control over procurement decisions.

The language granting more power to the service chiefs is part of the Senate’s version of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which the Senate Armed Services Committee approved by a vote of 22-4 in a closed session last Thursday. The text of the bill still has not been released, but the committee says it would “enhance” the role of the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, shifting some authority into the military services and away from top Pentagon officials.

Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics
Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics

One of those officials, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, logistics and technology Frank Kendall told the Northern Virginia Technology Council Tuesday that he has serious concerns about the path the Senate appears to be forging.

He said the service chiefs already have plenty of ways to influence the acquisition process should they care to exercise them, and that weakening civilian oversight could have severe consequences for keeping programs on time and on budget.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/394/3860616/DoD-views-congressional-a

Senate defense bill lays out acquisition reforms

The Senate’s version of the $612 billion 2016 defense authorization bill that cleared committee on Thursday treats shortfalls in the acquisition system as a national security threat while pressuring the Pentagon to accelerate planned reductions in headquarters personnel.

US Congress“This is a reform bill,” said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz. “It tackles acquisition reform, military retirement reform, personnel reform, headquarters and management reform. This legislation delivers sweeping defense reforms that rise to the challenges of a more dangerous world. We identified $10 billion of excess and unnecessary spending from the defense budget, and we are reinvesting it in military capabilities for our warfighters and reforms that can yield long-term savings for the Department of Defense.”

The headquarters staff cuts and purchasing reforms differ slightly from the House version of the bill, which passed that chamber on Friday, May 15, 2015.

“An acquisition system that takes too long and costs too much is leading to the erosion of America’s defense technological advantage, which the United States will lose altogether if the department continues with business as usual. In short, our broken defense acquisition system is a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States,” a committee summary said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/defense/2015/05/senate-defense-bill-lays-out-acquisition-reforms-hq-personnel-cuts/113113

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/

What does innovation really mean?

In this article, Michael Fischetti, executive director of the National Contract Management Association, explores what forms innovation might take in the government acquisition arena.

Innovation is defined as “the introduction of something new…a new idea, method, or device.” In business, that description includes “the process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay.”  Within acquisition, innovation might mean two things: wider use of new and innovative technology tools and products; or what could be called a new business (management or human resource) philosophy, government contracting policy, regulation, training initiative, strategy, type, etc.  Taken further, “disruptive innovation helps create new markets and value networks, eventually displacing or replacing existing ones and legacy technology.

Confusion results when it isn’t clear what innovation means. No innovation is risk free, of course. Nothing new ever is. A structured, traditionally conservative acquisition community has much to be concerned with. This is justified, since despite contrary rhetoric, everyone from the program customer, senior agency or corporate leadership, oversight officials from GAO, inspector general, DCAA, DCMA, Congress, to media and industry associations, can be quick to highlight failure, but not as prominently promote success. Shortfalls in government’s acquisition performance are clear when, by the time government receives new technology, it’s already outdated, having long been used in the private sector. This perpetuates criticism mistakenly linked to existing regulations, lack of communication with industry, workforce training, etc.

In a bygone era, the government led technological change. Now it mostly follows.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/acquisition/blog/2015/05/04/fischetti-what-does-innovation-mean/26889217/