President issues order boosting minimum wage on new federal contracts

February 14, 2014 by

President Obama issued an executive order Wednesday raising the minimum wage for workers under federal contracts to $10.10 per hour, starting next year.

The move fulfills a pledge Obama made in his State of the Union address last month to take action on his own to raise wages for lower-paid workers on federal projects and at government facilities.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people working under contracts with the federal government to provide services or construction who are currently making less than $10.10 an hour,” the White House said in a statement. “Some examples of the hardworking people who would see their wages go up under this executive order include nursing assistants providing care to our veterans at nursing homes, concessions workers in national parks, people serving food to our troops, and individuals with disabilities working to maintain the grounds on military bases.”

Before signing the order at the White House, Obama said, “right now, there’s a dishwasher at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas making $7.76 an hour — $7.76 an hour. There’s a fast-food worker at Andrews [Air Force Base], right down the street, making $8.91 an hour.  There’s a laundry worker at Camp Dodge in Iowa making $9.03 an hour.  Once I sign this order, starting next year, as their contracts come up, each of them and many of their fellow coworkers are going to get a raise.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2014/02/obama-issues-order-boosting-minimum-wage-contractors/78725/

Proposed rule streamlines agency small business spending

February 13, 2014 by

The Defense Department, General Services Administration and NASA are proposing to amend federal acquisition guidelines to help streamline small business purchasing, according to a notice in the Feb. 3 Federal Register.

The proposed rule would clarify that agencies can continue to claim credit toward their small business spending goals even if the small business has left the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program – as long as the contract award was made while the business was in the program.

However, if the small business no longer represents itself as a small business in future contracts, agencies can no longer count any spending with that company under its small business goals.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140203/ACQ02/302030012/Proposed-rule-streamlines-agency-small-business-spending 

GSA issues RFP for office supplies contract

February 11, 2014 by

The General Services Administration issued a request for proposals Jan. 31 for the third generation of its office supplies strategic sourcing contract.

The ability for agencies to purchase everyday supplies such as pens, paper and printing items from a single contract will save more than $155 million annually on reduced administrative costs and lower prices, according to GSA.

Proposals are due March 17.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140131/ACQ01/301310010/GSA-issues-RFP-office-supplies-contract 

Consultant to veteran-owned small business, once suspended by SBA, says CEO provided inaccurate information

February 10, 2014 by

A consultant for MicroTechnologies LLC, one of the federal government’s most prominent small-business contractors, said the firm’s founder authorized him to submit information to the Small Business Administration in 2005 that the agency later said “appears to be a complete fabrication,” the consultant told The Washington Post.

Alanson R. Anderson said MicroTech founder Anthony R. Jimenez provided the material included in a successful SBA application for entrance into the SBA’s 8(a) program for small, disadvantaged businesses, qualifying for preferential treatment, including contracts awarded without competition.

At the time, Anderson was president of Sourcetec Corp., a small-business consultancy retained to guide Jimenez through the application process.

MicroTech’s application included statements in response to SBA questions about the firm’s ties to two other companies. One of the statements said the firm had “no link, relationship, or partnership of any kind” with a firm owned by two MicroTech investors. SBA rules prohibit small and disadvantaged contractors from being overly affiliated with larger firms.

In December, the SBA suspended MicroTech after agency officials said they had new information that Jimenez had provided “false and misleading statements” about the firm’s ownership, operations and ties to other companies. The suspension was triggered when the SBA began a process known as “debarment” that would block ­MicroTech from future contracts.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/consultant-for-microtech-said-he-vetted-inaccurate-information-with-firms-ceo/2014/01/30/9fb50e9c-89dc-11e3-a5bd-844629433ba3_story.html 

DoD and GSA say Federal contractors should implement cybersecurity in operations and products

February 6, 2014 by

Federal contractors should incorporate baseline cybersecurity measures into their operations as well as their products or services, recommends a joint Defense Department and General Services Administration committee.

Using the federal acquisition system to force contractors into better cybersecurity practices isn’t a new idea, acknowledges the report  – which is dated November but was made public only on Jan. 24. In December, the Pentagon finalized a rule requiring contractor protections over unclassified defense information and instituting intrusion reporting requirements.

And in August 2012, the federal government already proposed requiring contractor information systems to adopt basic safeguards.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/federal-contractors-should-implement-cybersecurity-operations-and-products/2014-01-27 

Beltway firms dominate DHS services contracting

February 5, 2014 by

Familiar Beltway company names and places dominate an inventory of Homeland Security Department services contracts obligated during the last fiscal year.

Each year, DHS and other departments release data on their services contracting; the Office of Management and Budget in 2011 called on agencies to reduce services spending.

The newly released fiscal 2013 DHS inventory shows the department obligating $9.35 billion on services during that fiscal year with 16 percent of it dedicated to guard services.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercehomelandsecurity.com/story/beltway-firms-dominate-dhs-services-contracting/2014-02-03Top 15 DHS Services Contractors - FY13

 

GSA cancels 2014 Training and Expo conference, offers alternatives

February 4, 2014 by

For the second year in a row, the General Services Administration (GSA) has canceled its annual Training and Expo conference because of tight budgets and reduced travel spending.

“After careful review of projected attendance and continued travel budget reductions, GSA has made the decision to not hold an Expo in 2014,” GSA’s announcement states.  (See: http://www.expo.gsa.gov.)

As alternatives to the Training and Expo, GSA is referring industry and government representatives to two on-line resources and local customer service resources:

  • Interact - Interact offers free on demand and webinar training.  It also provides an online forum for interactions with industry partners.
  • GSA Training - gsa.gov offers free on demand, webinar and classroom training on a wide array of topics and offerings.
  • Customer Service Directors  - GSA’s local Customer Service Director’s are equipped to offer local training for your organization.

GSA’s announcement suggests that the Expo could return next year, but in a different form.  “GSA remains committed to addressing the need for training,” the formal announcement continues, “and will identify the most effective way to offer Expo 2015 to deliver better value and savings for our government partners, our vendors, and the American people.”

 

GSA launches Alliant GWAC social community

February 3, 2014 by

The General Services Administration has launched a new social media tool on the Interact.gsa.gov website in an effort to gain feedback from other agencies and industry partners.

The community page is intended to facilitate “transparent and open” discussions pertaining to the Alliant II and Alliant Small Business II government-wide acquisition contract vehicles, GSA said last week.

GSA started the Alliant Interact community to follow OASIS Interact forum’s platform for feedback and dialogue on proposals and ideas.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.executivegov.com/2014/01/gsa-launches-alliant-gwac-social-community

 

Former Georgia national guard employee indicted for corruption

January 31, 2014 by

Raytosha Elliott, a former contracting official with the Georgia Department of Defense, has been indicted for allegedly awarding contracts in exchange for illegal kickbacks.

“Ms. Elliott took advantage of the trust her job afforded her to award no-bid contracts by giving them to her friends,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.  “The defendants pocketed nearly $75,000 from their scheme for work that was never completed, and denied services meant to maintain facilities supporting those who serve this country.”

Ricky Maxwell, Acting Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated: “This case is a direct result of government personnel detecting criminal financial irregularities and reporting them to the proper authorities. The FBI will continue to dedicate significant investigative resources to ensure that federal money is spent appropriately and as intended.”

Special Agent in Charge John F. Khin, Southeast Field Office, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, said, “In partnership with other law enforcement agencies, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service aggressively pursues all allegations of fraud and corruption impacting the Department of Defense and our warfighting mission, to ensure that American taxpayer dollars are not wasted or stolen.”

“The prosecution of individuals who manipulate normal business transactions in an effort to enrich themselves has always been a priority of IRS and our law enforcement partners”, stated Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation.  “We are proud to have contributed our financial expertise in order to ensure that those who engage in these illegal activities are vigorously investigated and brought to justice.”

“This case is an excellent example of federal and state law enforcement working together to fight corruption,” said Vernon M. Keenan, Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Interim Inspector General Deb Wallace of the State of Georgia Office of Inspector General said, “Our office is dedicated to strengthening the trust between the citizens of Georgia and their public officials by continuously pursuing fraud, waste, abuse and corruption within the executive branch of state government. We would like to thank and recognize the Georgia Department of Defense for its vigilance and willingness to report irregularities within its contracting process. We appreciate the many investigative agencies who assisted on this case through countless hours of hard work to bring it to resolution.”

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court:  From May 2007 through April 2012, Elliott worked for the Georgia Department of Defense, the state agency charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the Ga. National Guard.  Elliott worked as an Engineering Operations Manager out of the Clay National Guard Center, located at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, in Marietta, Ga.  In that position, Elliott worked with engineering firms to develop bid-ready construction projects, prepared bid documents, and oversaw no-bid purchase orders.  Under the rules governing the contracting process that Elliott oversaw, projects that cost less than $5,000 did not need to go through a competitive bidding process, allowing Elliott to award the contracts.  She then certified that the work had been completed for those projects, and facilitated payment to the vendors who allegedly completed such projects.

In that position, Elliott awarded numerous contracts under $5,000 to vendor companies created by her friends and associates, including co-defendant Lakeysha Ellis.  In return, the friends and associates paid Elliott kickbacks, equal to 50% of the value of the contracts, for steering the contracts to them.  Elliott falsely certified that work had been completed when, in fact, it had not been in order to facilitate payment.  One of the vendor companies was Total Source Solution, LLC, owned by co-defendant Ellis.  Elliott awarded Total Source Solution 17 contracts with a total value of approximately $75,000.  Those contracts were for a variety of services supposedly to be performed by Total Source Solution, including electrical work, landscaping, and HVAC work.  But the work was never done.  Instead, the defendants split the money awarded under these contracts and spent it on personal items, including travel, meals, merchandise, and even liposuction treatment for Ellis.  As part of the scheme, Elliott owned a company named Tech Group Investments, LLC.  Ellis took money she had obtained from the Georgia Department of Defense contracts, and paid kickbacks to Elliott through this company.

The indictment also alleges that Ellis and Elliott conducted a similar fraud scheme from January 2009, through May 2011, when Ellis was an accountant at Baumueller-Nuermont Corporation, an industrial equipment company with offices in Atlanta.  Her job responsibilities included payroll and paying vendors.

While employed as Baumueller-Nuermont’s accountant, Ellis fraudulently funneled money to the defendants’ two sham companies, Total Source Solution and Tech Group Investments.  Ellis wrote corporate checks to Total Source Solution, signed her name on the checks, and forged the signature of the Vice President on the checks, to ensure that the checks could be negotiated.  Ellis recorded these payments in the check registry to reflect falsely that the checks had been issued to true vendors (such as American Express) when in fact they went to Ellis’ company.

As part of the scheme, Ellis also falsified employee records in the corporation’s payroll system to disguise payments to the defendants’ two companies.  Ellis created at least two phantom employees by altering the names of real employees (by switching their first and last names) and slightly changing their Social Security numbers.  She then caused the payroll system to make fraudulent salary payments to Total Source Solution and Tech Group Investments for these new, non-existent employees.

Baumueller-Nuermont lost about $85,000 from this scheme.

The ten count indictment charges Elliott, 33, and Ellis, 36, both of Atlanta, Ga., with two counts of conspiracy and seven counts of wire fraud.  Elliott is also charged with accepting a bribe or kickback as a public official.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only allegations.  The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Georgia Bureau of Investigation; the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service; Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation; the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command; and Deputy Inspectors General of the State of Georgia Office of the Inspector General.

Source: http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/press/2014/01-16-14.html 

GSA allots $1 billion for maintenance of federal buildings across the country

January 30, 2014 by

The General Service Administration laid out a plan for fiscal 2014 public buildings spending that includes more than $1 billion in repair and maintenance for about 9,000 federal buildings across the country.

The GSA can spend $9.4 billion out of the Federal Buildings Fund to repair federal buildings, pay rent for leased buildings and consolidate offices under the compromise omnibus spending bill (H.R. 3547) signed into law Jan. 17 by President Obama. That amount increases the GSA’s buildings budget by $1.3 billion more than last year.

Due to reduced funding prior to fiscal 2014, GSA has failed to make $4 billion worth of repairs and maintenance, GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini said in a Jan. 21 statement. Now, with the added funding, GSA can make headway on those repairs, Tangherlini said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/gsa-allots-1-billion-maintenance-federal-buildings-across-country/2014-01-21