Enterprise Innovation Institute’s VP talks about ATDC … and rockets

Georgia Tech vice president Stephen Fleming was interviewed Jan. 24, 2015 by 11Alive “Atlanta Tech Edge” host Angel Maldonado.  They talked about  about ATDC, Georgia Tech’s Technology Square, and rocketships (XCOR Aerospace).

You can see and hear the interview here: http://www.atlantatechedge.com/ATLANTATECHEDGE/article/325878/554/Stephen-Fleming-Ohand-rockets.

Survey: Acquisition workforce falling behind on training

The buyers of products and services across government are not receiving the fresh training or modern skill sets needed to innovate and acquire the complex technology called for in today’s agency missions, according to a survey of federal acquisition employees released on Thursday.

“The acquisition workforce’s skills in areas such as business acumen, negotiation, risk mitigation and understanding complex information technology fall well short of what acquisition professionals say is required,” said Stan Soloway, president and CEO of the Professional Services Council. PSC and Grant Thornton prepared the seventh edition of a biannual survey titled “A Closing Window: Are We Missing the Opportunity for Change?”

“This not a failure of the workforce,” Soloway said, “but a result of our collective slowness to recognize the need for major change” in education and support.

In a session with reporters, he cited frustrations over a “growing gap” between acquisition specialists and the end users who increasingly say the technology being delivered isn’t suitable.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2015/01/survey-acquisition-workforce-falling-behind-training/103512/

See more on this topic at: http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=1719

Top Navy official asks Congress to strip out acquisition regulations

A top Navy official says the new Congress should focus acquisition reform efforts on doing away with existing regulations rather than adding to a process that is already overly complex.

“We need precious little new legislation that will trigger added bureaucracy to respond to new requirements levied against an already byzantine process,” Sean Stackley, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, said Jan. 7 in remarks at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C.

The statement reflects growing agreement between Capitol Hill, the Defense Department and industry players that the acquisition process has grown intolerably complex and is undercutting the Pentagon’s technological competitiveness with adversaries.

An intra-Pentagon acquisition reform team has spent several months combing existing acquisition regulations in search of burdensome and redundant rules, Stackley told reporters after his appearance. That team, led by the office of the undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, will soon submit its recommendations for reform to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), who now chair the Senate and House Armed Services committees. Lawmakers would consider the reforms for the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2015/01/07/navy-official-regulation-revision.aspx

DOD tries to allay industry fears on intellectual property

Addressing an audience of defense executives and military acquisition officials, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Katrina McFarland sought to clarify how much intellectual property the Defense Department is interested in owning in a project it outsources to private industry. McFarland and other DOD leaders argue that maintaining a delicate balance of owning parts of a project to control its upkeep but not owning too much IP as to scare off bidders could help shore up the U.S. defense industry’s dwindling technological edge.

DOD does not want to own IP when it amounts to business secrets a firm can leverage for competitive advantage, McFarland told a conference hosted by Defense Daily in Washington, D.C. Rather, the department wants to own the interfacing part of a system that would be interoperable with another firm’s technology added later in a project, she said.

Defense Acquisition University defines open systems as those that use open, public interfaces and formats, making them interoperable and portable. To encourage competition for projects, and in turn save money in tight fiscal times, DOD has made open-systems architecture a key tenet of Better Buying Power 3.0, the latest edition of acquisition reform that the department unveiled in September. BBP 3.0 is now in draft form and won’t become DOD practice until the department hears more from industry, Congress and other stakeholders in the coming weeks.

Keep reading this article at: http://fcw.com/articles/2014/11/04/dod-tries-to-allay-fears.aspx

Top administration official says FAR can be made to work

A senior Obama administration official acknowledged that federal purchasing rules are difficult to navigate, especially for information technology projects and services, but they’re getting the job done – for now.

“We may want to think, at some point, about changing authorities. But we have authorities now that can be made to work,” said Beth Cobert, Office of Management and Budget deputy director, referring to the Federal Acquisition Regulation, or FAR.

Cobert delivered the keynote address Oct. 27, 2014 at the Executive Leadership Conference in Williamsburg, Va., an annual conference sponsored by the industry group ACT-IAC.

A common complaint among federal technology officials is that the FAR is better suited for buying filing cabinets rather than complex IT systems and services. In response to the need for more IT acquisition guidance, OMB created something it calls the “Tech FAR.”

In May, then-federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel said in testimony before a Senate committee that the Tech FAR was being developed to help agencies solicit services in new, more agile ways “such as using challenges and crowdsourcing approaches to involve citizens, writing requirements that allow for more flexible execution, or a pay-for-service model.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/top-obama-administration-official-says-federal-purchasing-rules-can-be-made/2014-10-29

NASA awards flurry of contracts under SEWP

NASA has a host of new vendors to buy IT services from, after awarding 56 contracts to more than 40 companies under the latest version of its Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement, known as SEWP.

Announced Oct. 1, SEWP V is the fifth generation of the multiaward governmentwide acquisition contract. This particular iteration has a total value of up to $10 billion over the next decade.

NASA staggered its SEWP V vendor and contract announcements. The Oct. 1 announcement covered two subcategories: Group A, for computer-based systems, and Group B, for networking, security, video and conference tools.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2014/10/nasa-awards-flurry-contracts-under-sewp-v/95705/

SEC audit reveals lapses in laptop inventory, possibly affecting more than 1,000 computers

An internal investigation found that the Securities and Exchange Commission must take more action to better track agency-issued laptop computers.

In the audit dated Sept. 22, the SEC inspector general said that the Office of Information Technology’s inventory failed to include current locations of machines from an operations center that closed last year.

The inventory also had incorrect locations for about 17 percent of the 488 laptops reviewed, incorrect user information for 22 percent of them, and could not account for 24 machines, the audit found. Additionally, the IG said that at least 88 asset management branch workers could delete asset records from the IT Service Management inventory database.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/sec-audit-reveals-lapses-laptop-inventory-possibly-affecting-more-1000-comp/2014-10-01

DoD selects Tech as one of 12 contract award winners

he Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is one of 12 companies awarded access to the new Defense Systems Technical Area Tasks (DS TATs) contract vehicle.

Having established its reputation as a world leader in sensors, radar and electronic systems, information management and security, and robotics, GTRI leveraged its position within the Georgia Institute of Technology and its collaboration with other academic institutions to win the contract. The contract was awarded by the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC), a part of the Department of Defense (DoD).

“Contract vehicles are very important for military contractors in general and GTRI in particular,” said Rod Beard, GTRI researcher and director of the DS TATs. “We could have the greatest ideas in the world for a government office, but if we don’t have a way for them to reach us through a contract vehicle, it could be too time-consuming for the complete procurement process.”

GTRI leadership made the decision to pursue DS TATs in 2011, realizing that the Sensing Information Analysis Center (SENSIAC) vehicle would expire in 2014. DTIC’s prior responsibility for SENSIAC under its mandate was to provide science and technical information to U.S. government customers. Because of GTRI’s and Georgia Tech’s specialty in sensors and radar, SENSIAC was located in and managed by GTRI. Researchers and scientists managed these basic core operations of SENSIAC.

DTIC divided the 10 existing information analysis centers — grouping subject matter based on research similarities — into three. The technical area tasks (TATs) or contract vehicles were separated among the new branches. Now, the DS-TATs scope is the same as that of the Defense Systems Information Analysis Center. The other two are the Cyber Security and Information Analysis Center (CSIAC) and the Homeland Defense & Security Information Analysis Center (HDIAC).

DTIC, which reports to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (ASDRE), established DS TATs in June 2014. The vehicle has a $3 billion ceiling and is established as a 5-year, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ), multiple-award contract for research and analysis services.

According to Beard, it should take about six or seven months to begin procuring contract awards through the vehicle. He currently is in the process of informing GTRI’s researchers of the new vehicle, and then will meet with customers who funded GTRI through SENSIAC, informing them of the new process with DS TATs.

Contractors awarded use of this vehicle will compete to perform various customer-funded task orders (TATs) for studies and complex analyses, as well as engineering and technical services that generate scientific and technical information within the Defense Systems scope areas.

Focus areas for this contract vehicle include the following:

  • survivability/vulnerability
  • reliability, maintainability, quality, supportability and interoperability
  • military sensing
  • advanced materials
  • weapon systems
  • energetics
  • autonomous systems
  • directed energy
  • non-lethal weapons and information operations

Through its relationship to Georgia Tech and collaboration with academic partners from across the nation, GTRI will be able to not only utilize its specialties—sensors, autonomous systems, sustainability of legacy aircraft and research on protecting our warfighters — but also allow the consortium of academic partners to demonstrate their strengths.

Collaborators include the University of Southern California, California Technical Institute, New Mexico Tech, Utah State University, Purdue University, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, Notre Dame, Pennsylvania State University, Vanderbilt University, University of North Carolina Charlotte and Florida International University. In addition, GTRI recruited several industry and small business partners, as 9 percent of the work done in the first year must be designated to small businesses.

“In addition to providing access to a contract vehicle, the partnerships will give us an opportunity to diversify,” Beard said. “To assist with this, we have secured several academic partners, which will open the door to projects that neither GTRI nor some of our partners would have contemplated before.”

For example, GTRI conducts legacy aircraft sustainment. “We take legacy technology in military aircraft, and update the avionic systems with current generation processors and memory to enable replacement of this out-of-date equipment,” Beard said. “Purdue is prominent in the automotive industry, which is something we don’t do. We could possibly move into tank and truck sustainment through our partnerships.”

A few of these institutions already were partners through SENSIAC, Beard said. Utah State’s Space Dynamic Lab, for example, can simulate the environment of space, which aids in the testing of sensors and other items bound for the skies.

“I’m pleased that we have been awarded this opportunity,” said Robert T. McGrath, senior vice president of the Georgia Institute of Technology and director of GTRI. “I am confident that the comprehensive capabilities represented across the impressive team assembled will very ably serve the future needs of our Department of Defense sponsors.”

The multiple-award contracts were competitively procured by full and open competition along with a partial small business set-aside via the Federal Business Opportunities website. The Air Force Installation Contracting Agency, Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, is the contracting agency.

DoD will empower military branches to directly procure cloud services

The Defense Department is changing its approach to procuring cloud services, moving away from a two-year-old policy designating the Defense Information Systems Agency as the department’s de facto cloud broker.

In a new memo expected to be released by the end of October, the department’s new policies will grant cloud-buying power to the military services, according to officials. The new guidelines direct military officials to provide the DoD CIO office with detailed business case analyses for cloud decisions, while also complying with acquisition requirements and evolving cybersecurity mandates.

The forthcoming memo will replace the 2012 cloud strategy released by then-DoD CIO Teri Takai.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140924/FEDIT01/309240020/DoD-will-empower-military-branches-directly-procure-cloud-services

Hagel’s right-hand man on acquisition reform

Hagel needed to accompany President Barack Obama to Tampa, Florida, for a briefing at U.S. Central Command about the now-underway airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria. Hagel needed a trusted confidant to fill in for him at the Air Force Association conference in Maryland, so he turned to Frank Kendall, the Defense Department’s undersecretary for acquisition.

Hagel’s choice in Kendall to deliver the remarks he had already penned is the latest in a series of actions that demonstrates the close relationship two have developed over the past year, defense officials close to both men say.

Moreover, the relationship has helped elevate Kendall’s acquisition reform – or as he prefers to say, “acquisition improvement” – initiatives, the latest of which was unveiled last week.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.defenseone.com/management/2014/09/hagels-right-hand-man-acquisition-reform/95048/