CDC increases competition with $5 billion IT contract

October 8, 2010 by

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has signed a $5 billion deal with 30 vendors that will compete for information technology work during the next decade, CDC officials said on Thursday.

The agreement, which consolidates several expiring IT contracts, continues and expands a seven-year initiative called the CDC Information Technology Support Project, which Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. won in 2003 to provide service to more than 200 information systems. The agency now operates about 400 major systems, according to the solicitation for the new information management services project.

The incumbent companies are among the winners of the new contract, which was awarded on Sept. 23.

Some analysts said the pact makes sound business sense given the fact that the billions of dollars will not be paid out all in one year and CDC’s good track record on fiscal responsibility.

For example, every major spending category at CDC is either flat or declining going into fiscal year 2011, according to Ray Bjorklund, senior vice president at market research firm FedSources. He also noted the agency recently combined its 13 IT infrastructure services to cut operating costs by 21 percent, or $23 million, according to CDC officials.

The 10-year deal is an indefinite delivery-indefinite quantity contract for information management, management consulting and IT infrastructure. The vendors will vie for tasks in each of the service areas. Information management involves the planning, development and life-cycle maintenance of systems; management consulting includes broad services such as business case development, training, communications and program risk assessment; IT infrastructure encompasses help desk services, network support, data center operations, information security and conferencing assistance.

“CIMS covers the entire range of IT services at the CDC, while CITS covered a more limited scope of IT — application and information management,” Lockheed spokeswoman Kimberly Jaindl said.

CDC Chief Information Officer Jim Seligman said on Friday the agency tried “to get a broader array of suppliers as well as ongoing competition” to obtain the most cutting-edge tech and achieve better pricing.

CDC relies on computers for communicating information and for supporting research such as conducting epidemiological studies that require scientific data management and performing complex analyses of population data. The solicitation for work, issued December 2009, stated the contract would provide services to offices in Atlanta, where most of the agency’s 15,000 employees live; Cincinnati; Morgantown, W.Va.; Hyattsville, Md.; Research Triangle Park, N.C.; and other cities. Support also must extend to staff working in developing nations and at quarantine offices in major urban areas.


– by Aliya Sternstein – NextGov.com – 10/01/10 – © 2010 – NATIONAL JOURNAL GROUP, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

City of Albany’s small business program kick-off set for Oct. 18

October 7, 2010 by

The Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) and the Department of Community and Economic Development cordially invite you to attend the City of Albany’s Small Business Procurement Program Kickoff on Monday, Oct. 18th. 

The purpose of Albany’s small business program is to increase the number of contracts awarded to local vendors, and thereby build business capacity, create jobs, and strengthen the local economy. 

GTPAC is  partnering with the City and other local agencies and institutions with hopes that their presence at gthe Oct. 18th event may be an added resource for potential program participants.

The Oct. 18th event will formally introduce the components of the City’s program to the public and highlight various aspects of the program, including the application process, the preferences, the benefits, and the staff.  Application packages and other resource materials will be available at the event.  

Albany-area vendors are strongly encouraged to attend.

The Small Business Procurement Program Kickoff will be held on October 18, 2010 from 10:00 am-1:00 pm at the Microbusiness Enterprise Center located at 230 S. Jackson Street, Albany, Georgia 31701.

Those interested in attending the Kickoff should  register in advance at http://tinyurl.com/2d59tcb or call 229-483-7650. For more information about this event, please contact Jacquelyn Teemer at 229-483-7653 or by email at su.ag.ynablanull@remeetj.

GSA’s office supply contract causes concern

October 7, 2010 by

The blanket purchase agreement (BPA) for office supplies awarded to 15 companies this past June is expected to save the government more than $50 million a year. Already 16 agencies from the departments of Defense to Veterans Affairs to Treasury have committed to at least making the multiple award contract mandatory for consideration by its employees when buying these products.

As the BPA is just getting off the ground, the General Services Administration also suspended any new vendors coming on to Schedule 75, which is for office supplies. The suspension is for two years starting Oct. 1.

These two actions may have some unintended consequences for more than 485 vendors who currently have a schedule contract to provide office supplies to the government.

“The BPA is part of GSA’s effort to funnel some of this business or as much as possible to low cost providers and that is a way to limit choices a lot of agencies have in this marketplace,” said Mike Tucker, president of the George W. Allen Company, an office supply company, which didn’t get a spot on the BPA. “Right now we will feel the effects of the BPA in the short term. We are hearing from our customers that they are being told to try the BPA, and until they have problems they can take back to their supervisors, we will take that hit.”

Chris Bates, the president of the National Office Products Association (NOPA), added that GSA’s decision to temporarily suspend Schedule 75 caught his members by surprise.

“We have some significant concerns about scope of GSA’s decision and the potential impact on our members,” Bates said. “Our concerns deal with those current Schedule 75 contract holders and those whose contracts expire between now and the end of the moratorium. We also are asking for confirmation on how the freeze will effect dealer consortia arrangements. There are three or four of them that potentially could be impacted. There are more questions than answers at this point, and the short notice of the freeze is of concern.”

GSA and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy say the benefits outweigh the potential negatives.

Paul McDermott, the regional commissioner for the Northeast and Caribbean region of the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service, which runs the BPA, said agencies can save between 5 percent and 45 percent off the list prices under Schedule 75.

“As we try to accomplish savings across the government, we’ve got to do a better job than we do today in leveraging our buying power,” he said. “We are proud of this BPA. It certainly gives us increased leverage, and it resulted in more attractive pricing.”

Agencies spent $690 million on office supplies through Schedule 75 in 2009, and that was only a fraction of the $1.6 billion spent overall. GSA and OFPP hope to push more money through the BPA to take advantage of the volume discounts the BPA offers.

McDermott added that while some Schedule 75 small businesses may be impacted by the BPA, there was ample opportunity to bid on strategic sourcing vehicle.

“We had 75 offerors and made 15 awards and we believe that was healthy competition,” he said. “We wanted to keep it to a manageable number of BPA holders. And nothing prevents current schedule holders from reducing their prices to compete with those on the BPA. It’s up to them to decide their best approach.”

But with the strong encouragement from GSA and OFPP to use the BPA, Tucker and Bates say non-BPA holders are in a tough position, and new companies trying to get into the federal market will be shut out.

“When President Obama and the SBA say they support small businesses and here you have a schedule that has been around for a while and a lot of people, small businesses, competing every day who have gone to considerable expense of getting a schedule to do business and they now are shut out, that leaves us with a number of questions,” Bates said. “One big one is what will this happen to other schedules as well or just is this commodity group singled out?”

Bates said NOPA is meeting with GSA to try to get some of their concerns addressed.

McDermott said that small businesses are not being shut out. He said of the 500-plus Schedule 75 contract holders 50 percent did less than $100,000 in business in 2009, and 10 percent did no business at all last year.

He added that the BPA also likely will have on-ramps, or opportunities to add new companies, as needed.

This is the second time GSA has led a strategic sourcing effort around office supplies. It awarded a BPA to 13 companies in 2007 with an expectation that that agencies would spend about $400 million on it. Tucker said agencies spent only $30 million in almost three years.

“GSA and agencies are putting a much stronger push behind this,” Tucker said. “The administration wants them to cut spending by three percent a year, so a lot of agencies can see if they fall in line by using the BPA.”

McDermott said the first BPA didn’t find the success GSA had hoped so the agency is offering training, and requiring the 15 companies to offer the discounted prices when feds use their government credit card to buy office products.

“The primary reason for the suspension of Schedule 75 is we wanted to gather data and it will take two years to do a meaningful evaluation of both the BPA and schedule programs,” he said. “We want to evaluate the impact going forward, and we didn’t want companies to have to take on the cost to get and administer the schedule when most of the work is going to the BPA program.”

– By Jason Miller, Executive Editor, Sept. 23, 2010, Federal News Radio – http://federalnewsradio.com/?sid=2060341&nid=35 

Government contracting classes in Dalton on Oct. 22

October 6, 2010 by

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Dalton, GA is hosting two classes on government contracting on Friday, Oct. 22, 2010. 

At 10:00 am, “Fundamentals of Working with the Government” will be presented.  This class is perfect way for a busy business person to learn what you need to know – and what you need to have in place – in order to effectively market yourself in the government sector.  The class also will include a discussion of how to work with the government’s small business specialists.  Tom Larkin with the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center will be the instructor.

At 1:00 pm, “Understanding the GSA Schedule Process” will be presented.  Topics include: a brief overview of the GSA mission, getting “a GSA Number,” why federal agenices use (and don’t use) GSA Schedules, the pros and cons of GSA Schedule contracts and much more.  The presenter is Jerry Shadinger of the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center.

These classes will be held at Dalton State College (James Brown Center).  To register for either or both of these classes, visit http://tiny.cc/64pyt.

A drumbeat of warnings about impropriety regarding Alaska native corporation contracts

October 6, 2010 by

Government officials and the media have produced a drumbeat of reports about possible abuses of the large-scale contracts given to Alaska native corporations without competition.

August 2004: A Los Angeles Times story questioned the Army’s award without competition of contracts worth nearly $1 billion for base security guards to two Alaska native subsidiaries, Alutiiq Security and Technology and Chenega Integrated Systems.

November 2004: A senior aide to Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), the chief counsel to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and others press to have the Transportation Security Administration award a $500 million technology maintenance contract for screening equipment directly to Chenega Technology Services Corp. The TSA rescinds the deal after a story about it appears in The Washington Post.

April 2006: A Government Accountability Office review concludes that spending on ANCs had soared because federal officials found them “a quick, easy and legal method of awarding contracts for any value.” But the review found that government officials did not know the rules for overseeing the firms and cited “an increased risk that an inappropriate degree of the work is being done by large businesses rather than by the ANC firms.”

April 2006: In another report, the GAO also found that the Army paid 25 percent more than necessary on many of the base security guard contracts with Alutiiq and Chenega, even though they knew they could get the lower price through competition. Close to half of the work was passed on to two established security giants, Wackenhut Services and Vance International. Auditors also found that the Army failed to check whether the subsidiaries were doing the required 51 percent of the work.

May 2006: After Hurricane Katrina, the Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $39.5 million contract for temporary classrooms in Mississippi to an Alaska native corporation subsidiary called Akima Site Operations, even though the Corps “had information that the cost for the classrooms was significantly less than what Akima was charging,” according to a GAO report.

June 2006: At a hearing, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) said ANCs were used to circumvent open competition at great expense to taxpayers: The “Administration has used ANC contracts to manage commercial property in Virginia, renovate buildings in Brazil, and train security guards in Iraq. And much of the work has been done by non-Native companies working as subcontractors.” He added: “Good intentions have been replaced by avarice and indifference to the interests of the taxpayer.”

January 2007: An audit by the Defense Department’s inspector general’s office concludes that a new intelligence agency called the Counterintelligence Field Activity agreed to pay up to $27 million more over 10 years than it would have through proper competition on a $100 million lease-and-construction deal let in 2003. The $100 million contract was awarded without competition to an Alaska native corporation subsidiary called TKC Communications. The audit concluded that the Defense intelligence operation “circumvented numerous laws” in making the expedited arrangements for the lease.

June 2007: The Department of Homeland Security issues an “acquisition alert” about the use of Alaska native corporations, warning contracting officials to be sure that they were getting a fair price and that the native corporations were doing their appropriate share of the work.

October 2007: The Department of Homeland Security inspector general issues a report criticizing a $475 million contract awarded without competition by the then-U.S. Customs Service in February 2003 to the Chenega Technology Services Corp. The work is to maintain thousands of gamma-ray, X-ray and other scanning machines at the nation’s ports and borders. The DHS inspector general says the contract should not have been awarded because the corporation was too large to qualify, a circumstance that prevented qualified small businesses from competing for the work. Some evidence collected by the inspector general suggested Chenega “subcontracted more than the 50 percent allowed by federal regulations and the contract.” But auditors said there was not enough information to come to a definitive conclusion.

April 2008: The Air Force’s Air Combat Command warns all contracting officials about the use of contracts awarded without competition to ANCs and others. Contracting officers had to require written justification for using ANCs and specify the amount of work they were expected to do. “Effective immediately ALL sole source actions over $550K must be approved,” the Air Force memo said.

May 2008: The Defense Department inspector general’s office reported that senior Air Force officers at the Air Combat Command used an Alaska native subsidiary, Chugach McKinley, to direct a $128,000 contract awarded without competition to a favored vendor.

August 2008: Auditors in the Small Business Administration’s inspector general’s office find that two Alaska native corporation subsidiaries had allowed nonnative executives to receive millions in work and fees in violation of SBA rules. APM, a subsidiary of Cape Fox Corp., and Goldbelt Raven, a subsidiary of Goldbelt Corp., received contracts worth more than $833 million between 2003 and 2006. Executives in each agreed to pay more than $23 million over three years to nonnative executives at other companies, with whom they had personal ties, the auditors said.

October 2008: A Washington Post story reveals that officials at the FDA used a subsidiary of the Calista Corp. to direct work to a Washington public relations powerhouse called Qorvis Communications. An FDA official with ties to Qorvis later says that she and others skirted the rules simply as a “a matter of efficiency.” FDA officials immediately suspended the contract and ordered an independent investigation.

July 2009: A study by the Senate subcommittee on contracting oversight finds that few ANC employees are Alaska natives but that the companies have joined the ranks of the government’s largest contractors. The subcommittee’s investigation shows that ANCs have taken advantage of their contracting preferences, “receiving large no-bid contracts and passing through much of the work to other contractors.” The report, prepared for Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), said: “The analysis finds that Alaska Native Corporations are multi-million or billion dollar corporations that are now among the largest federal contractors. Although ANCs provide some benefits to their shareholders, those benefits may not be in proportion to the potential for waste, fraud and abuse created by the ANCs’ contracting preferences.”

By Robert O’Harrow Jr. – Washington Post – September 29, 2010

SBA releases final women-owned small business rule for implementation in early 2011

October 5, 2010 by

With the publication on October 4, 2011 of a final rule in the Federal Register, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) expects to have a federal contracting women-owned small business (WOSB) program up and running in the first quarter of 2011.

The new rule identifies 83 industries in which WOSBs are under-represented or substantially under-represented in the federal contract marketplace.  In addition to opening up more opportunities for WOSBs, the rule is also another tool to help achieve the statutory goal that 5 percent of federal contracting dollars go to women-owned small businesses. 

“Women-owned businesses are one of the fastest growing sectors of our nation’s economy, and even during the economic downturn of the last few years, have been one of the key job creation engines in communities across the country,” SBA Administrator Karen Mills said.

“Federal contracts provide critical opportunities for owners of small firms to take their business to the next level and create good-paying jobs,” Mills added. “Despite their growth and the fact that women lead some of the strongest and most innovative companies, women-owned firms continue to be under-represented in the federal contracting marketplace. This rule will be a platform for changing that by providing greater opportunities for women-owned small businesses to compete for and win federal contracts.”

With the Oct. 4 publication of the final rule, the SBA, in conjunction with the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council, will begin a 120-day implementation of the WOSB contracting program, including building the technology and program infrastructure to support the certification process and ongoing oversight. With implementation expected to take several months, the agency expects that federal agencies’ contracting officers will be able to start making contracts available to WOSBs under the program in early 2011.

The creation of a rule to increase federal contracting opportunities for WOSBs was authorized by Congress in 2000.  Since that time, SBA took a number of steps to study and analyze the market, including looking at participation by women-owned small businesses across all industries. Various draft rules were made available for public comment in prior years, but shortly after taking office the Obama Administration drafted a new, comprehensive rule, based on the analysis of the prior studies and on all the questions and comments previously received.  The proposed rule was published for public comment on March 2, 2010 for 60 days.  SBA received over 1,000 comments during that time.

Some of the components of the Women-Owned Small Business rule include:

  • To be eligible, a firm must be 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more women, and primarily managed by one or more women. The women must be U.S. citizens. The firm must be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with SBA’s size standards for that industry.  In order for a WOSB to be deemed “economically disadvantaged,” its owners must demonstrate economic disadvantage in accordance with the requirements set forth in the final rule. 

 

  • Based upon the analysis in a study commissioned by the SBA from the Kauffman-RAND Foundation, the final rule identifies 83 industries (identified by “NAICS” codes) in which women-owned small businesses are under-represented or substantially under-represented in federal procurements.   

 

  • The SBA has identified eligible industries based upon the combination of both the “share of contracting dollars” analysis, as well as the “share of number of contracts awarded” analysis used in the RAND study.  This differs from an earlier proposed version of the rule which identified only four industries in which women-owned small businesses were under-represented.  This earlier version proposed to identify eligible industries based solely on the “share of contracting dollars” analysis used in the RAND study. 

 

  • In accordance with the statute, the final rule authorizes a set-aside of federal contracts for WOSBs where the anticipated contract price does not exceed $5 million in the case of manufacturing contracts and $3 million in the case of other contracts.  Contracts with values in excess of these limits are not subject to set-aside under this program.

 

  • The final rule removes the requirement, set forth in a prior proposed version, that each federal agency certify that it had engaged in discrimination against women-owned small businesses in order for the program to apply to contracting by that agency.

 

  • The proposed rule allows women-owned small businesses to self-certify as “WOSBs” or to be certified by third-party certifiers, including government entities and private certification groups. 

 

  • The final rule requires WOSBs which self-certify to submit a robust  certification verification, to complete the certifications at the federal Online Representation and Certification Application (“ORCA”) Web site, and also to submit a core set of eligibility-related documents to an online “document repository” to be maintained by the SBA.  Each agency’s contracting officers will have full access to this repository.   

 

  • The SBA intends to engage in a significant number of program examinations to confirm eligibility of individual WOSBs.

 

  • In the event of a contract protest or program review, the SBA has the authority to request substantial additional documentation from the WOSB to establish eligibility.

 

  • SBA intends to pursue vigorously punitive action against ineligible firms which seek to take advantage of this program and in so doing to deny its benefits to the intended legitimate WOSBs. 

 

Internet Address: http://www.sba.gov/news

GSA offers webinar on its mentor-protégé program

October 4, 2010 by

The Office of Small Business Utilization of the General Services Administration (GSA) is conducting a free one-hour webinar on Monday, Oct. 18, 2010 to explain the agency’s Mentor-Protégé Program.

The webinar provides both potential mentors and protégés with a general overview of GSA’s Mentor-Protégé Program as well as a review of the policies and procedures for participation.

You must REGISTER for this webinar in advance.   If you have questions regarding this webinar, please contact Anthony “Tony” Eiland by email at vog.asgnull@dnalie.ynohtna or by telephone at (202) 208-0257.

White House boosts effort to keep fake products out of procurement

October 4, 2010 by

The White House has created an interagency working group to stop counterfeit goods from entering the supply chains that support Defense Department weapons systems and private sector electronic goods, the nation’s first intellectual property czar said on Tuesday.

“The implications of DoD procuring counterfeit goods are negative and obvious,” said Victoria Espinel, the U.S. intellectual property enforcement coordinator at the Office of Management and Budget. “Our understanding is that this is a problem that a number of our agencies are struggling with.”

Espinel made her comments at an event hosted by the nonpartisan Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, before the start of a panel discussion on strengthening enforcement of IP rights in countries that systematically extort intellectual property. Congress created the IP coordinator position in 2008, to respond to concerns that government agencies responsible for protecting intellectual property were not coordinating.

This summer, the White House issued a joint strategic plan to combat IP theft that called for establishing a governmentwide working group to study how to reduce the risk of agencies procuring counterfeit parts. The framework stated the task force should include representatives from the National Security Council, Defense, NASA, General Services Administration, Commerce Department, Small Business Administration and Homeland Security Department.

A January 2010 Commerce survey found that nearly 40 percent of entities across the procurement supply chain discovered counterfeit electronics between 2005 and 2008. The semiconductor industry has aired concerns that counterfeit chips mislabeled as military-grade can lead to fatal malfunction in military and aerospace parts, according to the White House’s strategic plan.

On Tuesday, Espinel observed the IP problem is one issue where there is consensus in Congress. “I feel very lucky to be working in an area where there is great bipartisan support,” she said. Democratic Sens. Tom Carper of Delaware and Sherrod Brown of Ohio in an Aug. 6 letter to Ashton B. Carter, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, expressed fear about the potential for counterfeit parts to delay military missions and seriously affect the integrity of weapons systems.

The senators’ letter referenced the Commerce study and a March Government Accountability Office report that found Defense did not have specific procedures for detecting and preventing counterfeit parts from infiltrating the supply chain.

China, the country most frequently identified as the source of counterfeit items, should be treated with “a carrot-and-stick approach,” Espinel said. “China is both an economically sensitive issue and a political sensitive issue.”



– by Aliya Sternstein - 09/28/10 – NextGov.com – © 2010  NATIONAL JOURNAL GROUP, INC., ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Piedmont Fayette Hospital reduces length of stay with Georgia Tech assistance

October 1, 2010 by

U.S. emergency departments serve as the front door for more than half of all hospital admissions, resulting in long wait times, crowded conditions, and highly variable care and outcomes. In 2008, the average length of stay in U.S. emergency departments was four hours and three minutes. In Georgia, the statistics were slightly worse, ranking 34th out of the 50 states with an average wait time of four hours and 20 minutes.

The emergency department (ED) at Piedmont Fayette Hospital, a 143-bed facility located 30 miles south of Atlanta, was not immune to any of these modern health care challenges. According to Dr. Richard Mitchell, lean champion for Piedmont Fayette and subsequent chief medical officer, the average length of stay for patients that were treated and sent home was more than four and a half hours, as many as eight percent of patients were leaving without being seen and patient satisfaction scores were in the single digits.

“There was a lot of turmoil when we started,” he recalled. “Piedmont Hospital already had a contract with Georgia Tech to conduct lean projects to analyze and streamline flow processes, and Piedmont Fayette’s executive staff wanted us to look at processes in the emergency department.”

In July 2008, Jennifer Trapp-Lingenfelter of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute helped train Piedmont Fayette staff in lean principles, an operational strategy that focuses on eliminating waste while increasing value-added work. Lean techniques improve profitability, customer satisfaction, throughput time and employee morale. The project began with a value stream map, a diagram used to analyze the flow of materials and information required to bring a product or service to a consumer.

“With detailed review of patient flow through ED, the first thing we realized was that the department was physically set up backwards. The sickest patients were being taken all the way through the department to the back of the ED and being placed in smaller rooms while the least sick patients were being seen right in front of the ED right off the ambulance entrance in an area that had previously been the hospital’s intensive care unit,” noted Trapp-Lingenfelter. “So the larger, more equipped rooms were being used for the lower acuity patients.”

To address this situation, the team re-assigned rooms and nursing stations so that the sickest patients are now placed in the large rooms at the entrance of the emergency department. The charge nurse was relocated from the front nursing station to be able to better manage incoming patients from the ambulance and reception areas.

In addition to changing the layout, separate patient flow teams were established for sickest, moderate and least sick patients. The least sick patients now go into an “express track,” where they can be examined by a physician assistant. Physicians are assigned to either the moderate or sickest track, and patients move through the system more smoothly and quickly.

“Before if we had two doctors and each took a very sick patient, the moderately-ill patients were waiting for more than two hours to be seen,” Mitchell said. “The basic idea was to keep that highway open for those moderate patients, so that when the ED starts getting clogged up with sicker patients, you can see them.”

As a result of these changes, the time in department for discharged patients dropped from four and a half hours to three hours and 45 minutes, a savings of 45 minutes per patient (32,850 hours annually) in spite of the hospital’s rising patient volumes. The percentage of patients leaving without being seen dropped from six percent to three percent, and patient satisfaction scores soared from the single digits to 64 percent.

The team also conducted a number of projects in 5S, a method for organizing the workplace. Often-used supplies had been stored in a room at the periphery of the department, were not labeled and were difficult to locate. After implementing 5S (sorting, straightening, sweeping, standardizing, and sustaining), supplies were moved to a central area and were color-coded and labeled in user-friendly language.

“Before the 5S project, supplies had been labeled in a totally incomprehensible way so no one could find anything in the supply room,” Mitchell said. “When we turned the nurses loose and let them sort stuff, they probably got rid of 40 percent of the supplies we had. By asking them how to set up the ED, they were being listened to and empowered.”

Tammy Estrada, director of emergency services, agrees that having front-line staff involved made all the difference in implementing the lean projects.

“We are constantly doing lean every week,” she observed. “We’ve been able to build on the projects that these guys did – the techniques and the principles – and now it’s a part of our language and a part of our culture.”

Mitchell acknowledges that the biggest challenge of the project was sustaining the changes and not getting frustrated when significant changes in the hospital’s metrics weren’t readily apparent.

“We had perfectly good changes, and they were the right changes, but we had difficulty sustaining them. What we were missing was the intense follow-up and the involvement of hospital leadership,” he recalled.

For three months, executive staff and emergency department leadership held nightly telephone conference calls to discuss what had happened each day and to reinforce management’s commitment to the project. According to Lisa Hedenstrom, vice president for patient care services and chief nursing officer for Piedmont Fayette, this is when the team started seeing quantifiable changes. They now hold bi-weekly update meetings.

“If you believe in shared governance and giving employees control over their work environment and decisions that they can make then this is a natural thing to do because it allows the people who are doing the work to have input into how the process works in a very systematic way where everyone is valued and appreciated,” she said. “It’s really given us a much better culture to promote patient care, thinking of how we can do things differently.”

In addition to implementing lean in the emergency department, the Piedmont Fayette team also examined a number of processes elsewhere in the hospital: post-surgery discharge, wheelchair access, supply cart storage, radiology test orders, IV pump cleaning, outpatient CT scans, pre-op patient paperwork and women’s services. As a result of these efforts, the time to process admit orders has dropped from 120 to 60 minutes, time spent searching for supply cart items has been cut in half, and turnaround time to clean IV pumps went from 24 hours to mere minutes. In addition, the number of misdirected radiology orders decreased from 15 to less than two per day, and 21 percent more outpatients can be seen with the same number of staff.

Through its Healthcare Performance Group, Georgia Tech project leaders work with healthcare professionals to conduct lean assessments, teach basic lean concepts, develop value stream maps to analyze the flow of materials and information, create quality systems and implement rapid process improvement projects. For more information on healthcare performance improvement services offered by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, contact Jennifer Trapp-Lingenfelter (404-386-7472 ) or (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@retlefnegnil.nnej).

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:

The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office

Enterprise Innovation Institute

Georgia Institute of Technology

75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314

Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contacts: Nancy Fullbright (912-963-2509 E-mail: (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@thgirblluf.ycnan) or John Toon (404-894-6986 ); E-mail (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright – 9/30/2010

Congress restores small business contracting parity

October 1, 2010 by

The small business contracting parity debate is finally over.

On Monday, President Obama signed legislation that re-establishes equality among each of the small business subcategories that competes for government contracts.

The 2010 Small Business Jobs Act, which also provides tax cuts for undersized firms and creates programs to support private sector lending, makes a technical revision to the 1953 Small Business Act by replacing the word “shall” in the Historically Underutilized Business Zone statute with the word “may.”

The old language in the Small Business Act stated that a procurement officer shall award contracts based on limited competition to HUBZone small businesses. But, the statutes creating the service-disabled veteran-owned small business program and the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program used the word “may” when referring to set-aside contracts.

The Government Accountability Office and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims determined the difference unambiguously established a preference for HUBZone firms.

The Small Business Administration lobbied lawmakers for months to support legislation that would place contractors in the 8(a) and service-disabled veteran-owned small business programs — and the pending women-owned small businesses program — on equal footing with HUBZone companies. HUBZone companies are located in economically depressed neighborhoods.

“This clarification will help federal agencies meet each of the government’s small business contracting goals,” said SBA spokeswoman Hayley Matz.

The agency now will work with the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to “put in place, as expeditiously as possible, provisions implementing parity among all of SBA’s contracting and business development programs,” Matz said.

But, some small businesses are worried the new legislation could spell the end of the HUBZone program. “This is going to seal the fate of the HUBZone program,” said Jim Slagle, executive vice president for sales and marketing at Mission Critical Solutions, a Tampa, Fla. HUBZone firm that first challenged the parity statute in court. “They are not going to prioritize HUBZone firms. I don’t know that we will survive this.”

The federal government has not met its goal of awarding 3 percent of all contract dollars to HUBZone small businesses, while it generally exceeds its 5 percent goal for small disadvantaged businesses — a category that includes the 8(a) program.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and ranking member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, sponsored the parity language in the Small Business Jobs Act. Snowe, however, did not vote for the overall legislation because of its cost and questions surrounding the structure of several lending programs.

The jobs act also:

  • Directs SBA to establish a mentor-protégé program to assist small businesses owned by women, service-disabled veterans and those operating in HUBZones. The initiative would be modeled after the 8(a) mentor-protégé program.
  • Requires OMB’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy to establish a governmentwide policy for contract bundling — a process in which several small contracts are consolidated and awarded to one firm, often out of the reach of small businesses. Prior to bundling a contract, procurement officials would be required to conduct market research and to have a senior acquisition official sign off on the decision. The rationale for bundling then would be publicly disclosed.
  • Instructs OFPP to develop guidance that would allow agencies to set aside orders placed against multiple-award contracts exclusively for small businesses. The policy would apply to indefinite delivery-indefinite quantity contracts and task and delivery-order awards.
  • Establishes a pilot program for collaboration and joint ventures involving small business contractors. Under the five-year program, $5 million in federal grants will be awarded to eligible small business teams seeking to compete for larger procurement contracts.
  • Mandates small businesses recertify their size status annually. The law also establishes a governmentwide policy for prosecuting companies that fraudulently disclose themselves to be a small business.

 

The parity controversy was sparked in May 2009 when Mission Critical Solutions, which had lost out on an Army IT contract to an 8(a) minority-owned small business, filed a protest with GAO. The company argued, and GAO agreed, that HUBZone firms were legally at the top of the small business pecking order and the government should have given Mission Critical Solutions the first crack at the contract.

The ruling sparked a fury of activity, with the Office of Management and Budget and Justice Department issuing rare contradictory memos instructing agencies to disregard GAO’s nonbinding decision because it could “significantly limit the discretion” of contracting officers.

In a separate case, the Court of Federal Claims, a body whose rulings are binding, later decided in favor of Mission Critical Solutions. Justice has appealed that decision, although it is unclear how the new legislation will affect that case.

GAO since has ruled in favor of two HUBZone firms that filed similar contract protests. And in August the Court of Federal Claims issued its second ruling on the matter, arguing the Air Force first should have considered DGR Associates Inc., a HUBZone firm, before awarding a contract at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska to an 8(a) small business.

– By Robert Brodsky – GovExec.com – September 27, 2010