December 4, 2013 by cs
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing draft guidelines that will help the federal government buy greener and safer products. In response to broad stakeholder interest, EPA is seeking public input on these draft guidelines and a potential approach to assessing non-governmental environmental standards and ecolabels already in the marketplace.
“As the largest purchaser in the world, the U.S. government is working to reduce its environmental footprint,” said Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “The government buys everything from furniture to lighting to cleaning products. These guidelines will make it easier for federal purchasers to meet the existing goal of 95 percent sustainable purchases while spurring consumers and the private sector to use and demand safer and greener products.”
The draft guidelines were developed by EPA, the General Services Administration, and others following several listening sessions with a wide range of stakeholders on how the federal government can be more sustainable in its purchasing and how it can best meet the numerous Federal requirements for the procurement of sustainable and environmentally preferable products and services. The draft guidelines were designed to assist federal purchasing decision makers in more consistently using existing non-governmental product environmental performance standards and ecolabels.
The draft guidelines address key characteristics of environmental standards and ecolabels, including the credibility of the development process and the effectiveness of the criteria for environmental performance. The draft guidelines were developed to be flexible enough to be applied to standards and ecolabels in a broad range of product categories.
For more information on the draft guidelines visit: http://www.epa.gov/epp/draftGuidelines
December 3, 2013 by cs
The Defense Department may now officially exclude contractors or subcontractors from receiving information technology contracts based on the risk their supply chain poses to national security systems.
The authority comes from earlier national defense authorization bills and it expires in September 2018. In an interim rule published Nov. 18 in the Federal Register, DoD says the authority applies to the acquisition of any IT product or service, including commercial items, so long as the contractor in question operates a supply chain that poses a significant risk to a particular national security system.
Although the clause permitting the DoD to exclude contractors will now be a part of all defense IT contractors, the interim rule notes that it can apply only to national security systems, and then only to items “the loss of integrity of which could result in a supply chain risk to the entire system.”
Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/dod-enacts-rule-excluding-contractors-based-supply-chain-risk/2013-11-21
November 27, 2013 by cs
The Veterans Affairs Department used inaccurate milestones for several of its health care center construction projects and hasn’t properly tracked project costs, said Linda Halliday, VA assistant inspector general for audits and evaluations before a Nov. 20 House panel.
“VA needs better oversight, improved capital planning and stricter asset management to gain assurance that it can address construction and lease challenges more effectively,” Halliday said at the House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.
As of August 2013, only four of seven leases that came under IG review for an Oct. 22 report (.pdf), had been awarded and no HCCs had been built, despite VA’s target completion date of June 2012, Halliday said in prepared testimony.
November 26, 2013 by cs
Contractor advocates are concerned that new legislation moving through the House could result in a more rigid suspension and debarment process.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has approved a bill known as the SUSPEND (Stop Unworthy Spending) Act, which proposes a centralized board to manage all agency suspension and debarment issues.
The idea is to create a more consistent system — though some agencies would be able to use waivers to maintain their own suspension and debarment processes.
There were 836 discretionary suspensions and 1,722 discretionary debarments in fiscal 2012, according to data provided by the committee. Both figures represent a decrease from the previous year.
A committee spokesman said in past years some agencies have reported very few suspension or debarment actions — despite significant contract spending.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com//business/capitalbusiness/contractors-concerned-about-legislation-that-would-centralize-suspension-process/2013/11/14/277eb12c-4642-11e3-a196-3544a03c2351_story.html
November 25, 2013 by cs
A proposed rule more than two years in the making regarding contractor protections of unclassified defense information and intrusion reporting became final last Monday (Nov. 18, 2014) following publication of a final rule in the Federal Register.
The rule is smaller in scope than the proposed rule the Defense Department put forth in June 2011; it proposed controls for any data tagged with a “for official use only” or similar marker. The final rule only pertains to “unclassified controlled technical information,” which means technical data or computer software (as defined in the Defense Acquisition Regulation Supplement, section 252.227-7013).
It requires contractors and subcontractors storing or transiting that data to implement 51 security controls from the National Institute of Standards and Technology catalog, Special Publication 800-53 (.pdf), or provide a justification for the use of alternative controls or a case for the control’s inapplicability.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/dod-finalizes-unclassified-information-protection-rule-contractors/2013-11-18
November 22, 2013 by cs
Computer Frontiers Inc.’s owner thought she’d gotten a break when Stanley Inc. agreed to team up with the small technology company in the U.S. government market.
Instead, Barbara Keating says she feels betrayed. Canada’s CGI Group Inc., after buying Stanley, touted the relationship to win orders in the past three years under a State Department visa-processing contract valued at as much as $2.8 billion. Then it mostly cut the small business out of the deal, sending some work overseas, according to a federal lawsuit.
“We were a big part of winning the contract,” Keating said in a phone interview. “We definitely thought we’d all grow together because of this relationship. But that obviously didn’t happen.”
Large companies are increasingly reducing subcontractors’ roles to help cope with $1.2 trillion in automatic federal spending cuts that began in March, according to attorneys and contracting specialists. Those grievances have reached U.S. officials, who want to know when vendors won’t be working with small businesses that helped them get the work.
“We went to many different parts of the country and met with companies, and in almost every city there was someone that said this was an issue,” said Ken Dodds, director of policy, planning and liaison for the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 demanded that the government start requiring contractors that operate under a subcontracting plan to notify agencies when they’re not using small businesses that were part of their bids, Dodds said. A regulation to implement that part of the law hasn’t been approved.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-07/little-guys-said-tossed-aside-as-contractors-absorb-cuts.html
November 21, 2013 by cs
Students who become injured while cadets at U.S. service academy prep schools will no longer be able to claim vet status or file for disability compensation with the VA under legislation filed this week by Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Rep. Daryl Issa, R-Calif.
The bipartisan bill comes after lawmakers in June took testimony from a Virginia businessman who got a VA disability on the basis of a 1984 football injury at the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School; the compensation meant his company would be considered for contract set-asides for businesses owned by disabled vets.
The bill filed this week by Duckworth and Issa, who chairs the committee that grilled business owner Braulio Castillo in June, would no longer grant veteran’s status to men or women whose only connection to the military is attending a service academy high school. The bill would define “veteran” to exclude such individuals and prevent them from exploiting the system to secure contracting preferences.
“The Support Earned Recognition for Veterans (SERV) Act [is] a bipartisan bill to eliminate abuses in the veterans benefit system and ensure that only individuals who have actually served in the military can qualify to receive government contracting preferences and similar benefits,” the two said in a joint statement released Nov. 14.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.dodbuzz.com/2013/11/16/bill-targets-abuse-in-va-contracting/
November 20, 2013 by cs
The owner of an Albuquerque-area construction company and his son-in-law have pleaded guilty to charges that they defrauded a federal program designed for businesses owned by service-disabled veterans.
Max R. Tafoya, 63, the owner M.R. Tafoya Construction Inc., and Tyler Cole, 41, were charged last year in an indictment alleging that the two men obtained almost $11 million in federal contracts by falsely claiming that Tafoya’s company was qualified to participate in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Program, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Steven C. Yarbrough.
The guilty pleas were entered under plea agreements that require a 57 month prison sentence for Tafoya and a 37 month prison sentence for Cole. A federal judge will determine whether Tafoya and Cole will be required to pay restitution and fines or forfeit assets derived from their criminal activity.
In his plea agreement, Tafoya admitted that between 2009 and 2010, Tafoya Construction was awarded five contracts valued in total at $10,984,189 that required the company to hold SDVOSB status.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/blog/morning-edition/2013/11/contractor-pleads-guilty-in-fraud-case.html?page=all
November 19, 2013 by cs
Contractors are readying for the release of a sprawling new contract program worth up to $20 billion over 10 years to provide government agencies with technology hardware, software and other infrastructure.
The program is the fourth iteration of a contracting vehicle managed by the National Institutes of Health’s Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center, or NITAAC, a body tasked with managing several major procurement programs.
This particular vehicle, known as the Chief Information Officer-Commodities and Solutions, or CIO-CS, program, will be used to buy IT commodities such as personal computers, servers and printers, said Robert Coen, acting program director of NITAAC.
This contracting program is meant to complement the center’s IT services contracting programs, which were awarded last year.
The previous iteration of CIO-CS was awarded in late 2002, and 66 vendors won spots on the program, said Stephen Morris, research analyst at Herndon-based Deltek, which analyzes the government contracting market.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/contractors-preparing-for-acquisition-vehicle-worth-up-to-20-billion/2013/11/08/982f8838-41ab-11e3-a751-f032898f2dbc_story.html
November 18, 2013 by cs
For several healthcare centers that the Veterans Affairs Department planned to build in 2012, the department still had yet to award leases — let alone begin construction — as of August of this year.
In October 2009, Congress passed a law (PL 111-82) that authorized about $150 million for the VA to award seven healthcare center leases–three in North Carolina, two in California, and one in Alabama and Pennsylvania. The department preferred leases so that it wouldn’t have to undertake major construction projects.
VA sent Congress a timeline in 2010, showing its plans to award the leases by August 2010, finish construction by May 2012 and occupy the buildings a month later. But a report from the VA office of inspector general says that as of August 2013, only four of the leases had been awarded. One of those, for the Pennsylvania facility, was later terminated because of problems with the contractor.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/construction-va-healthcare-centers-years-overdue/2013-11-05
Download a copy of the VA IG’s report at: http://www.va.gov/oig/pubs/VAOIG-12-04046-307.pdf