White House wants to build digital-savvy contracting corps

The Obama administration is building a special squad of digital-savvy contracting officers to help agencies procure technology more effectively.

U.S. Digital ServiceThe new team will be modeled on the U.S. Digital Service, a similar effort to get more technologists into the ranks of government but will be staffed by existing agency contracting officers who undergo specialized training, Anne Rung, the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing this week.

Agency contracting offices often write exhaustively detailed statements of work that are often hundreds of pages long — and ask the same of companies when they submit proposals, Rung said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2015/06/white-house-wants-build-digital-savvy-contracting-corps/115183

Learn more about the U.S. Digital Service at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/digital/united-states-digital-service 

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

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/

Many projects in Pentagon’s emerging tech program still stuck in development

A Defense Department program that funds emerging technology development isn’t actually transitioning enough of that technology out of the research phase, a new Government Accountability Office report suggests.

pentagon-sealBy the end of the 2014 solicitation, DOD’s “Rapid Innovation Program” will have awarded contracts for about 435 projects, after receiving 11,000 white papers on proposed technologies from businesses. Congress devoted about $1.3 billion to the program in appropriations, according to GAO.

RIP projects have included technology that could improve manufacturing of one part of a thermal battery insulation system, which could potentially grow the lifespan of missile power sources. Another project is a hand pump designed to filter and purify water on the battlefield.

In a recent audit of 44 RIP projects from the 2011 fiscal year, GAO found that only 22 were transitioned to a government acquisition program, a military user, a prime contractor or eventually commercialized. Other DOD tech programs have higher transition rates, often between 55 and 85 percent, the report said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/2015/05/many-projects-pentagons-emerging-tech-program-still-stuck-development/112216

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/