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:

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:

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:

Top Army contracting official says oversight is too burdensome to promote cutting edge technology

The Defense Department acquisition process has become burdensome, leaving the Army behind in technology development, said Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology at an April 21 Center for Strategic and International Studies event.

Heidi Shyu,  Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology
Heidi Shyu, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology

Since 2011, the Army research, development and acquisition account declined at a rate twice as fast the Army budget declined, Shyu said. RDA makes up 18 percent of Army topline budget. That’s $23.1 billion of the total $126.5 billion budget. About four years ago, RDA made up 23 percent of the topline, Shyu said.

“We’ve definitely taken our hit,” she said.

But even with that, the DoD and Congress could do more to help promote development of the most advanced technology, Shyu said.

Keep reading this article at:

Big IT purchases don’t always fit a state’s procurement process

An alternative approach used in Georgia “gives us multiple bites at the apple,” according to the state’s CTO.

The procurement process states use to buy highway paint or office supplies is not always well suited for big technology purchases.

That’s according to Steve Nichols, the state of Georgia’s chief technology officer, who said there’s an alternative procurement approach that the Peach State has used a handful of times in recent years. It’s an iterative process, which allows for substantial back and forth dialogue between the state and the vendors vying for a contract.

Georgia Technology AuthorityNichols, and Tom Fruman, director of enterprise governance and planning for the Georgia Technology Authority, said that for some complicated, high-dollar state purchases, this non-standard procurement process can reduce misunderstandings before contracts get signed, and also save money by lowering risks.

Fruman likened the normal procurement process to the state slipping a solicitation for goods or services under a door, and vendors then slipping a proposal back in response.

Keep reading this article at: