OFCCP director says contractors won’t be violated for missing goals

December 24, 2013 by

Republican lawmakers charged that federal contractor benchmark hiring goals for veterans and the disabled burden contractors and amount to quotas, at a Dec. 4, 2013 House Education and Workforce subcommittee on workforce protections hearing.

But Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) Director Patricia Shiu told the panel that they are simply goals and contractors can’t be penalized if they don’t meet them as long as they show evidence of trying.

The Labor Department finalized two rules Aug. 27.  They include a new 7 percent hiring goal for people with disabilities and an benchmarking requirement for veteran hiring.  Both rules, which apply to contractors and subcontractors with 50 employees and $50,000 in government contracts, go into effect Feb. 27, 2014.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/ofccp-director-says-contractors-wont-be-violated-missing-goals/2013-12-05

GSA may offer more cost-reimbursable contracts

December 23, 2013 by

The General Services Administration (GSA) is considering adding cost-reimbursable options to its supply schedules, according to a top agency official.

Tom Sharpe, the commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, said in a statement to Federal Times that the agency is conducting an assessment on “a wide array of issues, and will not be a short-term action.”

He added that GSA’s planned OASIS contract vehicle for professional services will offer a cost-reimbursable option available to agencies, and GSA plans to award the contract soon.

Contracts on the GSA federal supply schedules currently use time-and-materials and fixed-price pricing terms.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20131213/DEPARTMENTS07/312130010/GSA-may-offer-more-cost-reimbursable-contracts

Critics say federal design-build construction contracts stifling competition

December 19, 2013 by

As lawmakers examine possible reforms to the contracting process for federal building construction, they heard on Dec. 3, 2013 from industry advocates who say current agency practices are chasing away perfectly qualified contractors, wasting money and stifling competition.

The issues surround the government’s use of design-build contracts for federal buildings — a setup in which the architectural work and the actual building construction are bundled into a single contract. Agencies can award those contracts in either a one-step or two-step process, and architects and builders who work in the federal space say they’re seeing problems with both.

In the one-step version, contractor teams have to submit virtually all of the technical details of their proposals all at once, and so do all their competitors.

That’s an expensive process. Charles Dalluge, an associate with the American Institute of Architects, said the average design-build proposal costs a company about $260,000.

“Teams must complete up to approximately 80 percent of the design work in advance, they must determine space needs, mechanic, electrical, structural, HVAC and other systems, building supplies and materials and, of course, the cost of construction,” he said. “As federal buildings become more complex, this work requires a considerable investment of time from the professionals on each of the design build teams.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/76/3517931/Federal-design-build-construction-contracts-stifle-competition

DoD to cut hundreds of staff and contractors for $1 billion savings

December 18, 2013 by

The Office of the Secretary of Defense will get smaller over the next five years as Chuck Hagel plans to cut 200 positions from his office, saving the Pentagon about $1 billion.

In July, Hagel ordered a 20 percent reduction in the front office budget to comply with sequestration reductions. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, service chiefs, combatant commanders and 3-star headquarters will reduce their staffs, as well.

“Some of these savings will be achieved through significant reductions civilian personnel; much of these savings will be achieved through contractor reductions. We are still finalizing the details, which will be available when the budget is submitted next year. But we will save at least $1 billion over the next five years,” Hagel said during a press briefing at the Pentagon on Wednesday.

In addition to eliminating 200 positions, several departments will reorganize to “reshape and strengthen” their staff. The Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy will “re-balance” some of its workload to assistant secretaries of defense. The Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Oversight and the Defense Privacy and Civil Liberties Offices will be combined into a single office, as well.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.defenseone.com/management/2013/12/hagel-cut-hundreds-staff-contractors-and-reorganize-1-billion-savings/74912 

GAO says agencies need to comply with Congressional requirements for bundled contracts

December 17, 2013 by

Federal agencies sometimes can achieve savings by consolidating requirements from separate, smaller contracts into fewer, larger contracts.  However, consolidation may negatively impact small businesses.  Generally, when consolidation makes a contract unsuitable for small businesses, the contract is considered bundled, which is a subset of consolidation. Agencies must justify their actions for both consolidated and bundled requirements.

In a new report issued by the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO), it’s noted that the Department of Defense (DoD) and the General Services Administration (GSA) — which accounted for more than 80 percent of the consolidated contracts reported by all federal agencies in fiscal years 2011 and 2012 — do not know the full extent to which they are awarding consolidated contracts.  This is the result of contracts being misreported in the federal procurement data system (FPDS).

GAO reviewed 157 contracts — more than half of all DOD and GSA contracts that were reported as consolidated — and found that 34 percent of the DoD contracts and all of the GSA contracts in fact were not consolidated. GAO also identified four DoD contracts with consolidated requirements that were not reported as such.

GAO’s study found that DoD generally justified contracts with consolidated requirements in accordance with existing regulations, but DOD and GSA have not yet implemented 2010 changes in the law.   Eighty-two percent of the 100 DoD contracts confirmed as consolidated followed existing regulations pertaining to conducting market research, identifying alternatives, and justifying decisions. Most of the contracts that did not comply were justified, but the determinations were not made by an official at a level senior enough to meet defense regulation requirements.

The study also found that the Small Business Administration (SBA) does not collect complete information on bundled contracts and has not reported to Congressional committees as required by federal law.

To read the full GAO report, please visit: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-36

This group could make — or break — FOIA reform

December 16, 2013 by

A proposed advisory committee to modernize how agencies comply with the Freedom of Information Act could herald a major improvement in relations between government agencies and the researchers, journalists and others who seek documents from them, a privacy advocate says.

If the committee is poorly composed or led by agencies like the Justice Department that have typically advocated more latitude for agencies to deny records requests, however, it could prove little use, said Ginger McCall, federal policy manager at the Sunlight Foundation, which advocates for government transparency.

“At the very least it would do no harm, and it has the potential to do great good depending on the composition,” McCall said. “I’d want it to include people who are knowledgeable about FOIA and passionate and willing to take agencies to task. If it’s stacked with people who are very friendly with agencies and more concerned about maintaining their relationship with agencies, then that would not be good.”

Ideally the committee should include groups from outside government that have deep experience both requesting documents under FOIA and litigating over documents the government refuses to release, she said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2013/12/group-could-make-or-break-foia-reform/75429 

 

Navy contractor from Georgia sentenced in $18 million scheme

December 11, 2013 by

The founder of a U.S. Navy contractor from Georgia must serve three years in prison for his part in a kickback scheme that cost the Navy $18 million, a federal judge in Rhode Island ordered Wednesday.

Anjan Dutta-Gupta, of Roswell, Ga., founder of Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow, or ASFT, is the fourth person to be sentenced in a federal probe into a 15-year scheme led by former civilian Navy employee Ralph M. Mariano. Dutta-Gupta pleaded guilty in 2011 to bribery and was not sentenced until Wednesday while he cooperated with the investigation.

The sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Mary Lisi matched the recommendation of both prosecutors and the defense, who said Dutta-Gupta’s extensive cooperation almost immediately after he was charged meant he should be shown some leniency. Otherwise, he could have faced as much as 15 years in prison.

Mariano worked for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I., and was most recently based at the Navy Yard in Washington. He had the power to approve payments on Navy contracts and used it to sign off on false invoices submitted by ASFT and subcontractors, which would then funnel kickbacks to Mariano and others. ASFT, which also had offices in Middletown, R.I., went under soon after the charges were brought.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.ajc.com/ap/ap/crime/ga-navy-contractor-to-be-sentenced-in-18m-scheme/ncBJY/

GSA updates strategic sourcing tool for office supplies

December 6, 2013 by

The General Services Administration in late November published a draft update of its seven-year-old strategic sourcing initiative aimed at reducing the costs of agency office supply purchasing.

The new statement of work titled “Office Supply Third Generation,” or OS3, is “the agency’s latest effort to cut costs and increase efficiencies by buying everyday supplies like pens, paper and printing items from a list of vendors with negotiated low prices,” GSA said in a release. It is expected to save $65 million a year in reduced administrative costs and $90 million through lowered prices, with 76 percent of purchasing contracts going to small businesses. Since 2006, the program has saved agencies $350 million, according to GSA.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2013/12/gsa-updates-strategic-sourcing-tool-office-supplies/74702 

EPA proposes new guidelines for greener federal purchases

December 4, 2013 by

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

For more information, read the Federal Register Prepublication Notice (PDF) and the EPA’s press release.

DoD enacts rule on excluding contractors based on supply chain risk

December 3, 2013 by

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