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GSA Rebrands Technology Department to Focus on Category Management The General Services Administration (GSA) has renamed its Office of Integrated Technology Service to the Office of Information Technology Category (ITC), to better reflect the agency's focus on category management. In a new blog post, ITC Assistant Commissioner Mary Davie said the rebranding is to focus the agency more on providing acquisition expertise to agencies. "Helping agencies find the best solutions using our technological and acquisition expertise regardless of where they reside, rather than advocating for any specific GSA contract solution," wrote Davie. "Yes, you read this...
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Too often, procurement and IT don't see eye-to-eye. There are a number of reasons for the schism, but a lot of it just has to do with communication. That's why it's good to see that a meeting organized by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) and the National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO) has resulted in an action plan to help modernize procurement practices to match the needs of IT departments. The action plan includes CPOs and CIOs working closely together, early in the process, and centralizing the governance structure to help facilitate collaboration. The action plan includes CPOs and CIOs working...
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The Governing Institute and KPMG have created a new handbook full of advice from modernization experts on how the public sector can apply lessons from the private sector to improve its procurement performance. Much of the paper looks at the drawbacks of the legacy technology system public procurement organizations across the country use, and how contemporary solutions can help drive value. The handbook starts at building a case for transformation, outlines key steps on the road to change, and advice for "shrugging off" legacy systems. Read More ...
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Simplified Acquisition Hits New High According to Bloomberg data, the value of federal contracts awarded using simplified acquisition procedures rose 5.5% to a 10-year high of $21 billion in fiscal 2016. The rise in usage of simplified acquisition follows rule changes made to encourage its use, including raising the threshold for commercial purchases. According to Bloomberg, contracts using simplified acquisition procedures accounted for 4.4% of the $475 billion in discretionary spending obligated in fiscal 2016. VA Could Help Tackle Pharmaceutical Costs Coalition for Government Procurement President Roger Waldron writes about how the Department...
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FAR Council Releases New Circular The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council has published another Federal Acquisition Circular, including five previously released rules: Uniform Use of Line Items; Acquisition Threshold for Special Emergency Procurement Authority; Contractor Employee Internal Confidentiality Agreements or Statements; Contracts Under the Small Business Administration 8(a) Program; and Prohibition on Reimbursement for Congressional Investigations and Inquiries. The rule about confidentiality requirements prohibits the government from contracting with a company that prevents its employees from reporting waste and abuse, and the 8(a)...
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In my last blog , I discussed the challenge posed by Elon Musk’s firm SpaceX to traditional ways of government contracting for satellite launches, represented by the Boeing-Lockheed United Space Alliance. Unlike traditional satellite (and IT project) development, SpaceX has taken up the challenge of introducing competition into launches and to develop satellites that are offered to the government at a fixed price. (In the case of SpaceX, that fixed price is about half of what the traditional contractor is charging). If we changed the way we developed new IT systems to introduce competition in the ongoing development process (rather than our current...
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GSA Releases Statement on Trump Hotel Lease at Old Post Office Following President-Elect Donald Trump's press conference yesterday announcing how he will structure his business dealings once he is in office, the General Services Administration (GSA) released a statement regarding Trump's lease of the Old Post Office site, now the Trump International Hotel. The statement reads: "GSA understands that an announcement has been made to change the business structure of the Trump Organization. We are seeking additional information that explains and describes any new organizational structure as it applies to the Old Post Office lease. Upon receipt, consistent...
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Denise Turner Roth Looks Back on GSA Under Obama General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Denise Turner Roth published a new blog post that looks back at the agency's accomplishments under President Barack Obama. Roth cites the agency's reducing duplicative offices to shrink the federal footprint, creating the acquisition gateway platform for acquisition professionals to share information, and establishing the Technology Transformation Service as major successes. Trump Pledges to Keep Pressure on F-35 In a press conference today, President-Elect Donald Trump reiterated his intent to be involved in government contracting. In his opening...
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In a press conference today, President-Elect Donald Trump reiterated his intent to be involved in government contracting. In his opening remarks, he spoke about the F-35 program, saying: "We’re going to get those costs way down, and we’re going to get the plane to be even better, and we’re going to get some competition and it’s going to be a beautiful thing." Trump has often singled out the F-35 striker jet as problematic, citing schedule delays and cost overruns as unacceptable, and even going so far as to wonder aloud whether the F-35 is the right plane for the job. Air Force Secretary: F-35 Here to Stay Outgoing Secretary...
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Defense Innovation Board Presents Ideas to DoD The Defense Innovation Board has made its recommendations to Pentagon officials as to how the Department of Defense (DoD) could help foster innovation, both in its culture and through its processes. Among the recommendations, the board suggested DoD create a Chief Innovation Officer, and to establish "a career track for computer scientists that will provide incentives for service members to specialize in computer science and programming fields." The board also recommended all systems built for DoD should have their source code made available to DoD and give the department the rights to the code. "This is...
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Over the holiday period, figures released by the UK Labour Party Member of Parliament Roger Godsiff showed the scale of corruption investigations in the UK’s Ministry of Defence. He uncovered the figures through a series of written parliamentary questions. In the past five years, 44 allegations have been referred to law enforcement agencies by the Ministry of Defence, according to defence minister Harriett Baldwin. Four of these involved the bribing of foreign public officials. However, the MoD has not excluded any companies from bidding for contracts under procurement law, as none have been found guilty of bribery or corruption. Of the four...
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If you’ve been watching the federal acquisition landscape of late, you may have seen an increased rumbling coming from the Hill about the value and the approach of the teams of tech experts that have come to government in the wake of the Healthcare.gov launch. Teams like the US Digital Services org and GSA’s in-house 18F. Those teams embrace experimentation, which by its very nature means some things won’t succeed. However, thanks to an excellently reported story in the Federal Times , we can put hard numbers to one of 18F’s experiments, the reverse-auction, micro-purchase platform that lets agencies buy goods or services for...
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You hear it time and again: If it weren’t for the regulations, we’d have loads of innovation in the public sector. Nowhere in government is there a more maligned document than the FAR, the Federal Acquisition Regulation, which has been blamed for any number of hurdles and failures in federal contracting over the years. But no longer! On today’s episode of the Public Impact Podcast , retired Air Force Lt. Col. and author Dan Ward talks about how he sees the FAR as actually encouraging innovation and agility and all of the things that lawmakers and policymakers wring their hands over. For anyone not already subscribed to the Public...
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New Bill Wants DHS to Work with Tech Innovators Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) has introduced H.R. 240, the "Leveraging Emerging Technologies Act of 2017," to encourage the Department of Homeland Security to proactively engage with "innovative and emerging technology developers and firms, including technology-based small businesses and startup ventures, to address homeland security needs." The bill also encourage the establishment of satellite offices to allow DHS to work closely with companies, stating DHS "may identify geographic areas in the United States with high concentrations of such innovative and emerging technology developers and firms, and may...
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On today’s episode of the Public Impact Podcast , Public Spend Forum Co-Founder and Chair Raj Sharma talks with retired Air Force Lt. Col. Dan Ward about his approach to innovation, building a culture of trust when it comes to taking risks, and how he changed things up at the Air Force by doing less. Dan is the author of two books, The Simplicity Cycl e and FIRE: How Fast, Inexpensive, Restrained and Elegant Methods Ignite Innovation , and is a contributor to Public Spend Forum, you may have read a few of his pieces in the past. Raj and Dan have a really interesting conversation about how Dan came to discover the power in keeping...
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OMB Delivers Third "Myth-Busting" Memo to Improve Industry Communications Lesley A. Field, acting administrator for federal procurement policy in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB ) has issued a third "myth-busting" memorandum to further improve government-industry communication. "Myth-Busting 3" focuses on improving post-award debriefings, because, Field writes, "a number of misconceptions may be discouraging some agencies from taking full advantage of this tool." The memo also provides some best practices from agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. ...
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We’re back with our weekly European public procurement news roundup, and we’ve got some stories you may have missed over the holidays too. Let’s start with the most recent. UK procurement civil servants face tests to stay in commercial roles An exercise has been introduced by Gareth Rhys Williams, the government’s chief commercial officer, to assess civil servants responsible for buying services and equipment for the UK government. This is part of reforms to improve procurement after a series of embarrassing mistakes last year. They will be tested and graded on their ability to secure contracts; depending on their results, some...
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CBS News reports that the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) has filed a suit in the Office of Administrative Law Judges to bar Google from doing business with the federal government unless it turns over confidential information about thousands of its employees. According to the suit, Google has refused to provide DoL with employee compensation information to ensure the company isn't discriminating against workers based on gender or race. The suit isn't unusual, in the sense that any federal contractor is required to disclose this information, but the prominence of Google makes it a big story. For its part, the tech giant has said it has provided the government...
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Department of Labor Files Suit Against Google CBS News reports that the Department of Labor (DoL) has filed a suit in the Office of Administrative Law Judges to bar Google from doing business with the federal government unless it turns over confidential information about thousands of its employees. According to the suit, Google has refused to provide DoL with employee compensation information to ensure the company isn't discriminating against workers based on gender or race. OMB Director Urges Continued Procurement Reforms In his exit memo, outgoing Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shaun Donovan wrote it's critical for the Trump...
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For years California's Child Welfare System—the electronic records system that helped keep track of cases for neglected, abused and vulnerable kids—was woefully out of date. And when California decided to go out to bid for a new one, the request for proposal was typically "monolithic," seeing a single solution. But the Department of Social Services called in Code for America , the nonprofit that has helped many institutions implement best practices—particularly agile development—and find a higher rate of success with IT projects. On today's episode of the Public Impact Podcast , Code for America Executive Director Jennifer Pahlka...
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DHS Introduces "Digi-Badges" Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chief Procurement Officer Soraya Correa says her agency is creating something called "digi-badges," accommodations for employees who are putting innovative processes they're learning into practice. "I think it’s a good way to encourage people to continue to participate in the webinars, to continue to be innovative and to continue to learn because that’s what this is really about," Correa said. "It's staying on top of the business, making sure we understand how technology is changing, how we are trying to change procurement and how we can do business better." SpaceX And...
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Before the holidays I came across a piece in Fortune called The Great Rocket Race . The article details the feverish efforts underway by the United Space Alliance, a decade-old joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin that launches space satellites for NASA, to cut its price per launch by half and compete with prices charged by SpaceX. NASA has made clear that going with SpaceX (the rocket launch company founded by Elon Musk of Tesla fame) is a viable alternative, and has already awarded the firm some contracts. SpaceX is also competing for Defense Department work launching military satellites. The United Space Alliance “cannot survive,”...
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DoD Finding Success with "Should Cost" Initiative In a new report to Congress, the Department of Defense (DoD) says that its "should cost" initiative from its Better Buying Power guidance has worked to lower contract costs and reduce cost overruns. According to Federal News Radio, "The policy asks managers to set program cost targets below independent cost estimates. It then asks the heads of programs to manage with the intent to achieve those cost goals." According to the report, the "effects are necessarily idiosyncratic to individual program, commodity classes and services," but it requires acquisition managers be vigilant about justifying each element...
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Politicians, and indeed many senior executives, hate to admit that life lacks certainty and is absolutely full of trade-offs. Perhaps it is a general human trait; we like certainty, to feel in control. We like to think we can address any problem and come up with a solution that closes off that problem forever. But in reality, life is not like that. Uncertainty and variability surrounds everything we do, and every time we address one issue or just carry out any activity, there will be consequences – some expected and some unforeseen. We move house to reduce the stress of our commute – and find the schools aren’t as good and we miss that...
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NDAA Removes DoD Subcontracting Language Forbes notes that Congress removed a controversial provision of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have allowed the Department of Defense (DoD) to count its subcontracts on big weapons programs toward its small business prime contracting goals. "But when President Obama signed the bill into law last Friday, small business contractors breathed a sigh of relief," the author writes. "Section 838 was stripped from legislation — for this year, at least — and replaced with a call for information from the Pentagon." The Fate of Obama's Executive Orders Ken Rosenberg,...
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