Air Force suspends, begins debarment process of reverse-auctioneer FedBid

The Air Force has suspended FedBid from federal procurement activity, both new contracts and follow-ons, as of Jan. 26, 2015 and proposed the reverse auction company for debarment.

FedBid’s listing in the System for Award Management (SAM) says the Air Force suspended and is proposing debarment with proceedings pending.

The Air Force wrote in the listing on SAM that it deemed FedBid ineligible for new contracts or follow-on deals “based upon adequate evidence of conduct indicating a lack of business honesty or integrity, or a lack of business integrity, or regulation, statute, executive order or other legal authority, pending completion of an investigation and/or legal proceedings.”

“As promised in our previous reporting on VA’s contracting and relationship with FedBid, the OIG referred FedBid to the Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee for an independent decision whether the company should be debarred. Through the Committee’s processes the Department of the Air Force agreed to be the lead agency,” said an VA OIG spokesperson in an email to Federal News Radio.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/395/3789803/Air-Force-suspends-begins-debarment-process-of-FedBid

VA failed to vet dubious contractors

An internal VA study has found that an east coast office that handles about $4 billion in business each year didn’t do enough checks to vet the backgrounds of companies to which it awarded contracts.

The internal study by consultants found that the Department of Veterans Affairs‘ “Service Area Office East” failed more than half the time to perform at least one of the required responsibility determination reviews, which include checking lists of banned companies or checking basic corporate facts with Dun and Bradstreet and other databases.

The study, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, found the office would often neglect to fill out required paperwork on why they selected “high risk” contractors and found 94 percent of Federal Supply Schedule contracts had some kind of problem, including lack of proof that contracting officers pushed for government price reductions.

Some contract files didn’t even have signatures.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/5/va-failed-to-vet-dubious-contractors/

House lawmakers call for OFPP to issue reverse auction guidance

House lawmakers are pressing the Office of Federal Procurement Policy to update the Federal Acquisition Regulations to detail how best agencies should use reverse auctions.

Reps. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) and Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairmen of the Veterans Affairs and Small Business committees, respectively, wrote to Anne Rung, OFPP administrator, Dec. 4, asking for a FAR case to be opened immediately to address reverse auctions.

“As you may well know, while our two committees recognize that reverse auctions, when properly used, may deliver savings to the taxpayer, we have long been concerned that some are misusing this tool to evade competition and compliance with other procurement regulations,” Graves and Miller wrote in the letter obtained by Federal News Radio.

Graves and Miller highlight findings from the December 2013 report from Government Accountability Office as well as recent GAO bid protest decisions detailing agency struggles with reverse auctions.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/517/3765084/House-lawmakers-call-for-OFPP-to-issue-reverse-auction-guidance

IG says VA official inappropriately steered contracts before moving to Treasury

A former top procurement official at the Department of Veterans Affairs — who now holds a similar position at the Treasury Department — steered contracts to a company with which she had a personal relationship, according to a watchdog report.

In concert with a VA colleague, Iris Cooper “preselected” the company, Tridec Technologies, then divided the work up into separate, smaller contracts that stayed below a threshold that allowed them to be awarded without competition, according to the agency’s Inspector General. In all, the Ohio-based company won more than $15 million in work since 2009 to help build an online acquisitions site

VA sealThe IG’s report is the second in recent months to accuse a top-ranking VA acquisitions official of improperly steering contracts. In September, the IG said that another VA contracting officer sought to improperly benefit Vienna-based FedBid. She resigned after the report became public.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/12/18/report-va-official-inappropriately-steered-contracts-before-moving-to-treasury/

Understanding acquisition needs key to training workforce, experts say

Better understanding of an agency’s specific acquisition needs leads to better training for the acquisition workforce of the future, according to two acquisition experts.

Melissa Starinsky, chancellor of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs’ Acquisition Academy, and Andrew Hunter, director of the Defense Department’s Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell, spoke to Federal News Radio for the special report, The Missing Pieces of Procurement Reform.

Starinsky said the Acquisition Academy has come a long way since its inception in 2008.

“One of the successes I would say we’re most proud of, that could be replicated or adopted across other agencies, is our Warrior to Workforce program, which is really a way for us to bring our wounded veterans into the field of acquisition, for a career in acquisition.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/538/3726666/Understanding-acquisition-needs-key-to-training-workforce-experts-say