June 11, 2012 by cs
The Army launched a procurement Thursday for passive radio frequency identification tags, readers and software to help the Defense Department track the movement and location of billions of dollars of supplies worldwide.
The new passive RFID contract will serve as a follow-on to the original $75 million contract awarded to CDO Technologies, Code Plus, Lowry Computer Products Inc., Northrop Grumman Corp., SYS-TEC Corp. and Odin Technologies in October 2008.
Since 2003, Defense has required suppliers of most parts and commodities to mark their shipments with RFID tags to enable tracking.
Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/defense/2012/06/army-kicks-new-passive-rfid-procurement/56182/
Link to the DoD Supplier’s Passive RFID Information Guide is here: http://www.acq.osd.mil/log/rfid/guide/DoD_Suppliers_Passive_RFID_Info_Guide_v15.pdf
May 29, 2012 by cs
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania has announced that Joseph W. Nagle, of Deerfield Beach, Florida, was convicted after a four-week jury trial before Senior United States District Court Judge Sylvia H. Rambo in Harrisburg.
Late Thursday, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on 26 of 30 charges in the indictment including conspiracy to defraud the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) and commit wire and mail fraud, 11 counts of wire fraud, six counts of mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and 11 counts of money laundering.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, this scheme, which lasted for over 15 years and involved over $136 million in government contracts, is the largest reported Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) fraud in the nation’s history.
According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, Mr. Nagle faces up to five years’ imprisonment on the conspiracy count; up to 20 years’ imprisonment on each of the wire and mail fraud counts; up to 10 years’ imprisonment on the money laundering conspiracy and each of the money laundering counts of conviction; and $250,000 in fines and mandatory restitution on each of the convictions. Nagle was acquitted on four counts of wire fraud. No date has been set for sentencing.
Mr. Nagle was president, chief executive fficer and part-owner of Schuylkill Products Inc. (SPI) and its wholly-owned subsidiary CDS Engineers Inc. (CDS) until April 2009, when SPI was sold. SPI was based in Cressona, Pennsylvania and manufactured concrete bridge beams used on highway construction projects in Pennsylvania and surrounding states. CDS was SPI’s erection division and installed SPI’s bridge beams, as well as other suppliers’ products, on highways in Pennsylvania and surrounding states. Mr. Nagle was convicted of joining an on-going 15-year conspiracy to defraud USDOT, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in connection with the federal government’s DBE program when he became president in April 2004.
USDOT provides billions of dollars a year to states and municipalities for the construction and maintenance of highways and mass transit systems on the condition that small businesses, owned and operated by disadvantaged individuals, receive a fair share of these federal funds. In Pennsylvania, PennDOT and SEPTA receive these funds and they require contractors to award a percentage of their subcontracts to eligible DBEs.
Mr. Nagle was convicted of participating in the scheme, which ran from 1993 to 2008, where he and other executives at SPI diverted over 300 PennDOT and SEPTA construction contracts to SPI and CDS that were reserved for DBEs. Mr. Nagle and his co-conspirators executed the scheme by using a small Connecticut highway construction firm known as Marikina Construction Corporation as a front company to obtain these lucrative government contracts.
Marikina was owned by Romeo P. Cruz, of West Haven, Connecticut, a naturalized American citizen born in the Philippines. Marikina was certified by PennDOT and SEPTA as a DBE. Although Marikina received the DBE contracts on paper, all the work was performed by SPI and CDS personnel, and SPI and CDS received all the profits. In exchange for letting SPI and CDS use its name, Marikina was paid a small fixed-fee, set by SPI.
The scheme was carried out for over 15 years because of the numerous fraudulent steps the co-conspirators took to conceal the scheme. SPI and CDS personnel routinely pretended to be Marikina employees by using Marikina business cards, e-mail addresses, stationery, and signature stamps, as well as using magnetic placards and decals bearing the Marikina logo to cover up SPI and CDS logos on SPI and CDS vehicles.
Previously, four former executives associated with SPI, CDS, and Marikina entered guilty pleas for their roles in the scheme:
Romeo P. Cruz, the former owner of Marikina, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax fraud charges in 2008 and 2009. Ernest G. Fink, of Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, SPI’s former vice-president, chief operating officer, and owner, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in 2010. Timothy G. Hubler, of Ashland, Pennsylvania, CDS’ former vice-president in charge of field operations, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax fraud charges in 2008. Dennis F. Campbell, of Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, SPI’s former vice-president in charge of sales and marketing pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in 2008. All four testified during the Nagle trial and await sentencing.
“Preventing and detecting DBE fraud are priorities for the Secretary of Transportation and the USDOT Office of Inspector General,” said Doug Shoemaker, OIG Regional Special Agent in Charge. “This significant conviction, in what is the largest reported DBE fraud case in USDOT history, will serve as a clear signal that severe penalties await those who would attempt to subvert USDOT laws and regulations. Prime contractors and subcontractors are cautioned not to engage in fraudulent DBE activity and are encouraged to report any suspected DBE fraud to the USDOT-OIG. Our agents will continue to work with the Secretary of Transportation, the Administrators of the Federal Highway and Transit Administrations, and our law enforcement and prosecutorial colleagues to expose and shut down DBE fraud schemes throughout Pennsylvania and the United States.”
“Schemes to defraud the Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program cheat not only the government and taxpayers, but also cheat those small, minority-owned businesses that the program is intended to help,” said Special Agent in Charge George C. Venizelos of the Philadelphia Division of the FBI. “This long-term joint investigation, culminating in the conviction announced here today, shows our determination to work together with our partners to safeguard the taxpayer dollars that support these important programs.”
The investigation was conducted by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General’s Office, the U.S. Department of Labor Inspector General’s Office, and the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS. Senior Litigation Counsel Bruce Brandler and Assistant United States Attorney Kim Douglas Daniel handled the prosecution.
– from an FBI News Release issued Apr. 6, 2012 at http://www.fbi.gov/philadelphia/press-releases/2012/former-president-and-owner-of-schuylkill-products-convicted-in-largest-disadvantaged-business-enterprise-fraud-in-nations-history.
May 25, 2012 by cs
In threatening a veto of the Defense authorization bill the House passed on Friday, the White House mentioned a host of budgetary reasons, but it also cited a little noticed provision on agency contracting to small businesses.
The fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act faces an uncertain future in the Senate mostly because of its controversial provisions to restore cuts in weapons programs already accepted by the Pentagon.
But a package of eight contracting reform bills long sought by the House Small Business Committee also was included in the larger bill, which passed by a substantial majority, 299-120.
May 24, 2012 by cs
The Obama administration still holds out hope of avoiding the across-the-board budget cuts required under the 2011 Budget Control Act, but it is nonetheless instructing federal agencies to begin preparing their fiscal 2014 budget requests assuming a 5 percent cut in discretionary spending.
Acting Budget Director Jeffrey Zients in a memo to agency heads on Friday said the coming spending plan will build on the Budget Control Act and the fiscal 2013 document’s framework, and hence “must continue to cut lower-priority spending in order to create room for the most effective investments in areas critical to economic growth and job creation, including education, innovation, infrastructure, and research and development.”
Keep reading this article at http://www.govexec.com//management/2012/05/agencies-told-assume-worst-budget-requests/55865/?oref=govexec_today_nl.
May 21, 2012 by cs
At 4:30 pm on May 21, 2012, GSA issued the following announcement delaying the implementation of the new SAM system:
The General Services Administration (GSA) is moving the implementation date of the System for Award Management (SAM) from May 29, 2012 to end of July 2012. The additional sixty days will allow federal agencies to continue preparing their staff, give agencies and commercial system providers even more time to test their data transfer connections, and will ensure SAM contains the critical, documented capabilities users need from the system.
This first phase of SAM will include the capabilities of Central Contractor Registration (CCR)/Federal Agency Registration (FedReg), Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA), and the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS).
In preparation for the launch, GSA conducted extensive testing internally and in coordination with federal agencies using the data from these systems in their own contracting, grants, finance, and other departments. The testing was very valuable and will focus the efforts of the next sixty days.
SAM will reduce the burden on those seeking to do business with the government. Vendors will be able to log into one system to manage their entity information in one record, with one expiration date, through one streamlined business process. Federal agencies will be able to look in one place for entity pre-award information. Everyone will have fewer passwords to remember and see the benefits of data reuse as information is entered into SAM once and reused throughout the system.
May 10, 2012 by cs
Asserting that “early, frequent and constructive engagement with industry leads to better acquisition outcomes,” the Office of Management and Budget on Monday released Mythbusting 2, a follow-up to guidance sent out in 2011 to encourage agencies and contractors to shed some of their reluctance to communicate.
“Whereas we focused last year on the misconceptions on the part of federal agencies, we want to continue the discussion by addressing in this memorandum the misconceptions that may be held by some in the vendor community,” wrote Lesley Field, acting administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement, in a May 7 memo to chief acquisition officers, senior procurement officers and chief information officers.
May 3, 2012 by cs
When it comes to the final details of the General Services Administration’s new professional services contract, One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services, or OASIS, “everything is in play,” said Jim Ghiloni, GSA’s OASIS program manager.
Although he provided few concrete details about OASIS, he did unveil its timetable for the first time.
Keep reading this article at: http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2012/04/26/oasis-update.aspx?s=wtdaily_270412.
May 2, 2012 by cs
The final Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS), released in February, is an improvement over its predecessor, but its withholding clause could cause problems and payment delays for many Defense Department contractors, experts say.
An April 25 cross-industry panel of contracting experts agreed that the new DFARS is the most comprehensive change in federal contracting in several years.
But they centered their attention on assessing the new withholding clause, which calls for withholding a percentage of the contract payment if the Defense Contracting Management Agency finds “significant deficiencies” in any of six business systems cited in the new rule.
Timothy Callahan, executive director for contracts at DCMA, said the old rule had a variety of regulations, no consistent language in determining whether a contractor’s work was adequate or inadequate, and what and how corrective actions were to be taken.
“Under the way we were operating if a contractor had a deficiency with a business system, they put forward an adequate corrective action plan; that submittal of an adequate action plan oftentimes was sufficient to change the status from a disapproved system to an approved system,” Callahan said.
“And there really wasn’t the follow-through on either the contractor’s part or our oversight to ensure that that corrective action plan was put into place,” he added.
The new DFARS business system clause normally does not apply to small businesses, competitive fixed price contracts or contracts less than $7.5 million, he said, adding that the agency will issue a withhold assessment on contracts valued at more than $50 million.
Callahan said DCMA now will use a four-phase program to determine if any of six contract business systems are judged to contain “significant deficiencies.”
“If it’s one business system, the withhold [amount] is 5 percent. If it’s two or more business systems that are being disapproved, the maximum is 10 percent,” he said.
“The withholds are against the financing arrangements of the contract,” Callahan explained, including progress payments, performance-based payments and interim cost vouchers.
The contractor then has 45 days to turn in its corrective action plan.
“If it’s an adequate corrective action plan the withhold will be reduced by 2 percent,” Callahan said. “We’re trying to minimize the hurt but still keep the pressure on to get this corrective action implemented.”
When the contractor notifies the government of the implementation, the government has 90 days to validate that corrective action has indeed occurred and that the deficiencies have been corrected.
“If we don’t get out there within 90 days, it’s another automatic reduction in the withhold [penalty] of 50 percent,” he said.
Participants at the Compusearch-sponsored panel “Contracting in a Time of Change” agreed there was a definite need for a new DFARs rule.
But Robert Burton, partner at Venable law firm and former deputy administrator in the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, called the business system clause draconian and hard to implement.
Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel at the Professional Services Council, said there is a lot of mythology surrounding the rule.
However, he praised DFARS for providing “contractor engagement and response at every opportunity. So it’s really moved to a compliance rule rather than a withholding rule.”
Chvotkin said the attributes in each of the six business systems are more clearly defined now than they were early on in the drafting process “But there’s still a lot of ambiguity and a lot of room for interpretation,” he said.
Addressing the ambiguity and need for interpretation, Chvotkin offered several steps contractors need to take even before winning a contract affected by the rule.
He said contractors should always document their own business systems, be aware proactively of the contract clauses and the risks inherent in DFARS.
Robin Schulze, director of the Government Contractor Advisory Services at accountants Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP, said she believed the strength of the new DFARS was its peer review requirement.
But she said, “I believe that when you get the initial determination [of a deficiency] if you were able, in your response to that, provide an action plan you could start at 2 percent [withhold] instead of the 5 percent. And the same thing should be true if you voluntarily disclose a deficiency that you’ve identified and have already started working of it.”
Defending the clause and the remediation process, Callahan suggested that if a contractor knows there is a problem and takes corrective action right away, “we can start out with a withhold of 2 percent, it doesn’t have to be 5 percent,” he added.
“We would like this to be a collaborative operation,’ Callahan said, “where we’re communicating as we go along.”
About the Author: David Hubler is senior editor of Washington Technology. This article was published on Apr. 25, 2012 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2012/04/25/panel-on-dfars.aspx?s=wtdaily_260412.
May 1, 2012 by cs
The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced the launch of a new Mentor-Protégé Pilot Program. The pilot program was created to enhance the capability of minority and small business owners to successfully compete for and perform in federal procurement opportunities. Managed by DOT’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), the program is designed to provide an opportunity for small businesses to create strategic alliances with successful large or prime contractors to receive technical assistance and move their businesses to the next level.
The General Services Administration’s cancellation of Oracle Inc.’s Schedule 70 IT services contract was simply because the two could not reach an agreement on terms, deciding in the end to go their separate ways, experts say.
A senior GSA official said April 20 that it was not in the government’s best interest to continue to offer Oracle’s IT services though its Schedule. GSA officials would not provide further details.
However, one day earlier a spokeswoman said the cancellation was the result of the company not meeting the terms of the contract.
Experts said they were were not surprised by of GSA’s decision, nor did they say they believed Oracle had done something terrible.
“Since GSA isn’t suggesting suspension or debarment, and because GSA is openly referring to Oracle’s other reseller and partner channels to sell its offerings, actions leading to the cancellation are probably not egregious,” said Ray Bjorklund, vice president and chief knowledge officer at Deltek’s GovWin.
Mary Davie, assistant commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service Office’s of Integrated Technology Services, noted April 20 that agencies could still buy software and software maintenance from Oracle’s resellers that have IT Schedule 70 contracts.
As for directly working with Oracle, Davie said, “It was determined that it was not in the best interest of the government to continue the contract.”
In the meantime, Oracle has yet to comment on GSA’s action.
The cancellation takes effect May 17.
Oracle’s Schedule contract was to run from Oct. 1, 2006, to March 28, 2012. The Schedule was last updated September 30, 2011, Bjorklund said.
“One could infer that GSA and Oracle couldn’t reach agreement on the terms and conditions needed to renew or extend the contract,” he said.
A lot of procurement changes have happened since 2006 that may have arisen between the two. There may have been differences in opinion about Oracle’s interest in its proprietary data rights, payment terms or rules that affect overseas work, Bjorklund said.
In addition, experts said the decision could stem from Oracle’s inability to comply with existing contractual stipulations because the company has changed the way it conducts business since the contract was last modified.
Mark Amtower, partner of Amtower and Company, said major corporations often struggle with GSA’s demands on sales records. Companies the size of Oracle may not be able to provide all of their sales information.
“When a worldwide company like Oracle is required to provide pricing data for every product sold, it is akin to Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill,” he said.
GSA Schedule contracts are under the Price Reduction Clause, which requires the government to get at least the same sale price as any other client.
GSA’s move came several months after Oracle agreed to pay a $200 million fine for its failure to comply with the terms and conditions of its Schedule contract.
“Now, in addition to the fine, Oracle will have to find other ways to sell to federal customers,” Larry Allen, president of Allen Federal Business Partners, wrote in his weekly ‘The Week Ahead’ newsletter.
Overall, the reaction from experts is that the cancellation won’t be a huge blow to Oracle or its sales.
Schedule 70 is not a preferred vehicle for IT, Amtower said. It has become more or less a default vehicle.
According to Amtower, Oracle’s Schedule contract accounts for less than 7 percent of total government purchases.
Oracle’s sales are coming through other contracts, such as NASA’s Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurements and other Defense Department indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts.
Bjorklund said this latest action is unlikely to dampen any interest in what Oracle offers the government; nor is it any grand-scale initiative on the part of GSA.
“When parties can’t agree, it’s just time to cancel the contract and try to start over again,” he said.
About the Author: Matthew Weigelt is a senior writer covering acquisition and procurement for Federal Computer Week. This article was published on Apr. 23, 2012 at http://washingtontechnology.com/Articles/2012/04/23/reaction-GSA-oracle-cancellation.aspx?s=wtdaily_240412&Page=2.