18F app acquisition pilot could be ‘a terrible idea’

The innovation team at General Services Administration’s 18F has been testing new ways to speed up the acquisition process, particularly when it comes to agile development of software. Today (Oct. 26, 2015), the team will be trying out what could be “a terrible idea.”

18F at GSA18F members will be posting an open competition to GitHub for work on the team’s CALC tool. The work will be paid for using the agency’s micro-purchasing authority, which lets federal offices procure products or services under $3,500 using a credit card.

The bidding will start at $3,499 and the lowest bidder will be given 10 days to produce working code. If the winning vendor fails, the next lowest bidder will have 10 days to succeed where their colleagues could not.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/acquisition/2015/10/22/micro-purchase-pilot/74392760/

DoD contractors: It’s time to update your data breach response plans

In an interim final rule published on October 2, another layer has been added to the compliance landscape for defense contractors. In addition to complying with breach notification requirements in as many as 47 different states in the event of a breach involving personally identifiable information, Department of Defense (DoD) contractors now have to comply with the rapid notification rules issued by DoD in the event of a cyber incident involving covered Defense information.

US DoD logoThese rules are noteworthy in that they require DoD contractors to report cyber incidents within 72 hours of discovering the incident. Most state breach notification statutes do not require that individuals be notified of a breach within a specific number of days, and the few state statutes that do have such a requirement contain a much more lenient timeframe of 45 to 90 days.

The interim rule applies only to “cyber incidents” which are defined in the rule as involving “actions taken through the use of computer networks” that result in a compromise or adverse affect on a contractor’s systems or the information on those systems.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.mondaq.com/article.asp?articleid=434116

GSA now taking bids on $50 billion telecom contract

After several years of planning and releasing a handful of draft requests for proposals, the General Services Administration last Friday issued the formal RFP for its $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract.

GSA logoEIS, the agency’s follow-on to Networx, is a 15-year telecommunications infrastructure contract — made up of already-vetted products and services — that a host of federal agencies can use to transition their aging communications infrastructures for a modern world.

Proposals are due Jan. 15, 2016. GSA will take its time selecting award winners, with an expected unveiling in late 2016.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/mobile/2015/10/gsa-issues-final-rfp-50b-telecom-contract/122885

OMB tells agencies: No new contracts for desktops, laptops

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is prohibiting federal agencies from issuing new awards or solicitations for laptop or desktop computers and directing them to limit those types of purchases to governmentwide contracting vehicles.

OFPPThe new policy was announced Friday (Oct. 16, 2015) by federal Chief Information Officer Tony Scott and Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) Anne Rung.

For years, agencies have purchased basic IT equipment, such as laptops and desktops, using thousands of contracts and delivery orders “resulting in reduced buying power, duplication of contracts and little transparency into the prices that agencies were paying for similar computers,” Scott and Rung said in a post on the OMB blog. (A recent inspector general review, for instance, reported one agency paid 42 different prices for the same desktop model in 2012.)

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2015/10/omb-agencies-no-new-contracts-desktops-laptops/122891

IG cites serious management and performance challenges in SBA

The Inspector General (IG) of the Small Business Administration (SBA) released a report on October 15, 2015 citing performance deficiencies in the agency’s management of its small business contracting responsibilities, especially the woman-owned small business program; technology security; lending and disaster loan programs; acquisition management; and its marquis activity — the 8(a) business development program.

SBA IG Report - Performance Deficiencies - 10.15.2015
SBA’s Inspector General criticized 10 areas of performance “challenges.” The chart above does not present them in any priority order.  The scores are as follows: green for “implemented,” yellow for “substantial progress,” orange for “limited progress,” and red for “no progress.” Challenge 9 was added since last year’s report, so no color score was assigned, and the recommended action has been designated as “new.”

A significant change in this year’s IG report involves small business contracting (Challenge 1 on chart above).  The SBA is responsible for managing and overseeing the small business procurement process throughout the federal government. Last year, the IG reported that procurement flaws allow large firms to obtain small business awards and allow agencies to count contracts performed by large firms towards their small business goals. While large firms continue to receive contracts that are counted towards small business goals, this year the IG realigned the discussion to include concerns regarding weaknesses in small business contracting programs and the reliability of data used to calculate contracting goal achievements.

Recently, both the SBA’s IG and the Government Accountability Office have reported weaknesses in SBA’s controls that would ensure only eligible firms receive contracts set-aside for the Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) federal contracting program. The National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA) for FY 2013 and FY 2015 made major programmatic changes to this program. Specifically, the NDAA for 2013 removed previously existing contract caps on set-aside awards for which WOSB and economically disadvantaged WOSB firms (EDWOSBs) were able to compete. The NDAA for 2015 granted contracting officers the authority to award sole-source awards to WOSB firms  and required firms to be certified by a federal agency, a state government, SBA’s Administrator, or a national certifying entity approved by the Administrator. However, SBA has opted to implement the sole-source authority provision first — separate from a certification program. The IG’s latest report expresses the belief that allowing sole source contracting authority in the WOSB, without implementing the contemporaneously required certification program, is inconsistent with SBA’s statutory authorization and exposes the program to abuse. Absent a certification program, the IG believes, the government is more likely to award contracts to ineligible WOSB firms.

Among the IG’s recommendations in the small business contracting are are:

  • Strengthen controls to ensure the accuracy of the Federal Government’s annual small business procurement goals achievements reported in the Small Business Goaling Report.
  • Implement a certification process for the WOSB Program.
  • Revise SBA’s Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act regulations so that SBA can pursue violations of its Federal contracting programs and demonstrate a capacity for taking enforcement actions under that statute.

The IG is also critical of the SBA’s management of its 8(a) program.  The 8(a) Program was created to provide business development assistance to eligible small disadvantaged businesses seeking to compete in the American economy.  SBA’s challenge has been to ensure that 8(a) guidance, controls, and practices truly prepare participating firms for a competitive market.   According to the IG, the SBA historically has not placed adequate emphasis on business development to enhance the ability of 8(a) firms to compete and has not adequately ensured that only 8(a) firms with economically disadvantaged owners in need of business development remained in the program.

In its latest report, the IG says that the SBA continues to address issues that hinder its ability to deliver an effective 8(a) program. For example, SBA has made its assistance more readily available to program participants by using resource partners such as small business development centers.  The SBA has also taken steps to ensure business opportunity specialists assess program participants’ business development needs during site visits.  The SBA also revised its regulations, effective March 2011, to ensure that companies deemed “business successes” graduate from the program, rather than allowing them to remain in the program and receive 8(a) contracts, which caused fewer companies to receive the majority of 8(a) contract dollars and many to receive none. These regulations also establish additional standards to address the definition of “economic disadvantage.” However, the IG notes, for the third consecutive year, the SBA has not finalized its 8(a) Program standard operating procedures (SOP) to reflect the March 2011 regulatory changes.  Further, although the March 2011 regulations establish the threshold for “economic disadvantage,” the IG has concerns that SBA’s standards for determining economic disadvantage are not justified or objective because they are not based on economic analysis. The IG maintains that SBA’s standards for determining economic disadvantage are not justified or objective based on the absence of an economic analysis.

Among the IG’s recommendations pertaining to the 8(a) program are:

  • Develop and implement a plan, including SOP provisions, which ensures that the 8(a) Business Development Program identifies and addresses program participants’ business development needs on an individualized basis.
  • Update and issue the 8(a) Business Development SOP to reflect the March 2011 regulatory changes.
  • Establish objective and reasonable criteria that effectively measure “economic disadvantage,” and implement the new criteria.

The full report by the SBA’s Office of Inspector General may be found at: https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/oig/FY_2016_Management_Challenges.pdf


Call for nominations open until Oct. 31 for Georgia ‘faces of manufacturing’

Nominations for the 2016 Faces of Manufacturing are open through October 31.

Faces of Manufacturing in Georgia

Why is Faces of Manufacturing so important?

  • It grows the exposure of manufacturing as an integral part of Georgia’s economy.
  • It gets younger generations interested in thinking of manufacturing as a viable future career.
  • It draws interest of state representatives lobbying for and representing counties/towns across Georgia.

Recipients of Faces of Manufacturing have earned local, state, and national recognition for their companies, cities/towns, and counties.

Nominate someone you know or forward the nomination form to HR managers, plant managers, and owners/CEOs of manufacturing companies and ask them to nominate their staff for this award. For more information, see: http://facesofmanufacturing.com/call-for-nominations



At $12.2 billion, Georgia ranked 8th in Defense Dept. FY14 spending

In a report issued last week, the Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) of the Department of Defense (DoD), reported that Georgia ranked 8th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in DoD spending during FY14 (Oct. 1, 2013 – Sept. 30, 2014).

DoD spent $12.2 billion in Georgia during the fiscal year, or 2.9 percent of total DoD spending.  Georgia’s share of DoD’s total spending compared to the previous year dropped 0.1 percent.

This following charts summarize key information extracted from the report pertaining to DoD spending in Georgia.

DoD Contract Awards - FY07-FY14
DoD contract awards in Georgia of $5.9 billion in FY14 represent the lowest level since FY07. DoD awards peaked in Georgia in FY10.


DoD Contract Awards in GA by Type - FY14
More than half of all contract awards in Georgia are for supplies and equipment.


Top DoD Spending Locations in GA - FY14
DoD spending during FY14 was highest in Cobb County and lowest in Chattahoochee County.


DoD's top 10 contractors in Georgia received awards totalling $ billion in FY14.
DoD’s top 10 contractors in Georgia received awards totaling more than $3.3 billion in FY14.


Top DoD Spending Locations in US - FY14


According to the federal budget, FY15 national defense spending is expected to decline 28 percent from FY 2011 to 2019 in real terms, after increasing by more than 65 percent from FY 2000 to 2010. Sequestration went into effect in March 2013 and required across-the-board cuts to defense and non-defense programs from FY 2013 to 2021. Over this period, DoD spending will be reduced by a total of $454 billion.

DoD’s state-by-state spending report can be downloaded from this page: https://www.oea.gov/library/directory/defense-spending-by-state-fy14.

GSA launches new Schedule for professional services

The General Services Administration created a new schedule for professional services — the Professional Services Schedule — consolidating the agency’s offerings into a single contract vehicle.

GSA Schedule ContractThe new schedule — the culmination of a year’s work — launched Oct. 1, 2015 and is now open for agency use.

The schedule includes contracts for advertising and marketing, business consulting, environmental solutions, financial and business solutions, language services, logistics and professional engineering. Those subcategories still exist for ease of use, however the vendor offers are now consolidated under a single contract for every company.

Previously, there were more than 5,000 professional services contracts from more than 4,500 vendors. After the consolidation, there are now 3,099 contracts under as many companies.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/story/government/acquisition/gsa-gwac/2015/10/08/professional-services-schedule/73605190/

Government contracting: When competitors become teammates

In the big business of government contracting, it is common for competitors to also be teammates for a period of time. Team arrangements can encourage innovative solutions, promote competition and allow contractors access to corners of the market that might otherwise be closed.

teamingTeam arrangements between contractors also can result in significant profits to each contributing company, as well as increased capability and know-how that can be leveraged by each contractor for future projects. The potential benefits, however, do not come without risk. Absent a carefully thought-out agreement, parties may find themselves in a situation where competitors turn on each other.

Keep reading this article to learn about common pitfalls: http://www.expressnews.com/business/local/article/Guest-Voices-Government-contracting-When-6541435.php

How vendors can make the most of state & local procurement opportunities

Diversifying among more levels of the government contracting market is a start.

SLED MarketVendors with a data-driven strategy for allocating sales resources among all five levels of the fragmented state, local and education (SLED) government contracting market are most successful, according to a new Onvia report.

Procurement data shows city and state agencies comprise the largest project bid volume, but the agencies most actively issuing awards are a small percentage of the market.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.routefifty.com/2015/10/how-vendors-can-make-most-sled-procurement-opportunities/122616