Federal contract spending fell 3.1 percent in 2014, study finds

Despite an overall hike in government spending in 2014, federal contract spending last year fell by $14.5 billion or 3.1 percent, according to the latest annual federal industry leaders study from Bloomberg Government, released on Friday.

Budget Versus Contract Obligations

But the good news for industry is that last year “may have represented the dawn of a new normal in the federal marketplace: contract spending was down following the drawdown in Afghanistan and Iraq, but greater budget certainties allowed greater planning and projections,” the analysts noted.

The drop in Pentagon spending was partially offset by a $1 billion hike in spending by the Health and Human Services Department. HHS spent about a billion more last year on services to medical providers.

Technology Spending Increases

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2015/06/federal-contract-spending-fell-31-percent-2014-study-finds/114547

See full report at: http://about.bgov.com/nextedge/report/bgov200/

For federal IT vendors, a lot to like in House, Senate Defense bills

From the perspective of federal technology companies, there’s a lot to like in this year’s House and Senate Defense authorization bills. Indeed, a leading industry group’s main complaint is that the acquisition reforms in the legislation only apply to DoD — not the rest of the government.

House Armed Services CommitteeWhile the leaders of both the House and Senate armed services committees say they’re taking an incremental approach to acquisition reform in their respective versions of this year’s Defense authorization bill, the Senate version, released last week, appears to try to achieve more change within a single year.

The measure tackles everything from the role of the military service chiefs in procurement decisions to the acquisition workforce and establishing new “alternative” pathways to buy goods and services and pressing the Defense Department to make more use of commercial technology.

In a briefing with reporters Wednesday, May 27, the IT Alliance for Public Sector (ITAPS), a lobbying group and association for federal IT contractors, said it had no substantive disagreements with any provisions in either of the Defense bills — an extremely rare occurrence for any advocacy group with interests in the huge, annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/394/3865197/For-federal-IT-vendors-a-lot-to-like-in-House-Senate-Defense-bills

GSA to push back RFP for Networx replacement

The General Services Administration won’t make its hoped for July release of the solicitation for the $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract.

GSA NetworxThe contract will replace GSA’s Networx vehicles and is the backbone of the government’s Network Services 2020 strategy for telecommunications services.

A a top agency official managing the effort said more time is likely to be needed as his team gathers input from industry and other interested parties.

Amando Gavino Jr., director of GSA’s Office of Network Services Programs, told FCW in an interview before a Professional Services Council industry forum in Arlington, Va., on May 21 that his team is digesting 1,600 comments from vendors and government agencies interested EIS contract.

The complex RFP, Gavino told FCW, “has to be released by this fiscal year, no later than September.” Last month, Gavino left the door open to pushing back the EIS RFP’s July release date.

Keep reading this article at: http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2015/05/21/ns2020-rfp.aspx

Finding a cure for what ails Defense acquisition

US CongressAround the nation’s capital, defense acquisition reform is surely in vogue. Last month, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, capped off his multiyear expedition in this space with the unveiling of a House bill to modernize the Pentagon contracting. On the other side of Capitol Hill, Sen. John McCain. R-Ariz., and the Senate Armed Services Committee have taken up the issue as well.

pentagon-sealEnter Frank Kendall. Just a few short weeks after Thornberry put his stake in the ground, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for acquisition, logistics, and technology released Better Buying Power 3.0. The initiative complements Thornberry’s broad legislative push with a set of tactical recommendations that aim to coax the many stakeholders in the defense sector toward more efficient collaboration and more effective outcomes. Though BBP 3.0’s provisions get way down into the weeds of the Defense Department’s acquisition machine, its fundamental (and lofty) goal is to protect American “technological superiority.” In this light, the initiative builds on earlier versions appropriately in certain respects and falls short in others.

While the message is “stay the course” in some areas, this latest cut ventures into new terrain in several ways to preserve the military’s technological edge. BBP 3.0 reinvigorates “prototyping and experimentation” to get greater capabilities out to soldiers at a faster clip. The initiative also promotes stronger long-range research and development efforts, positioning the Pentagon to harness new technologies for tomorrow as well as for 2030. It’s a prudent, yet ambitious campaign.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/defense/2015/05/cure-what-ails-defense-acquisition/112276/

Software vendors be warned: The old rules may no longer apply to government

Software vendors take notice: The General Services Administration (GSA) is proposing a new rule regarding something arcane but important.

GSA logoGSA has identified 15 terms and conditions common in commercial supplier agreements that it considers incompatible with existing federal law. And where there is a conflict, government’s own commercial terms rule. It’s designed to save everyone time. Vendors won’t have to comb their contracts for offending clauses — they just can’t be enforced.

For now it applies to any GSA contract that includes software. But don’t rule out the possibility of the rule going governmentwide.

For example, GSA is forcing an end to automatic renewals of period-limited software licenses or maintenance agreements. Instead, ordering agencies will award one-year with renewal options to be negotiated and re-awarded in subsequent years. The legal basis for this is that a contracting officer may not obligate funds that have not been appropriated, lest he or she be found in violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act.

Keep reading this article for a complete description of all the nullified terms and conditions: http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/blog/fedbiz_daily/2015/04/software-vendors-be-warned-the-old-rules-may-no.html

Pentagon strives for even better buying power

The Defense Department (DoD) on Thursday, April 9 released the third update of its Better Buying Power acquisition strategy in five years, aiming to preserve U.S. technological superiority by protecting budgets for long-term research and development while enhancing cybersecurity.

“We want to identify the weapons, in the systems in the force today, that we can use in more innovative ways, and we’re looking for these promising technologies that we can pull forward,” Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work told a Pentagon press conference Thursday. The goal is to reverse “a steady erosion of our technological superiority that we have relied upon for so long in all of our defense strategies.”

Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, in releasing a memo to top management outlining Better Buying Power 3.0, said that flat budgets and sequestration have required the department to raid modernization dollars to pay for readiness. “Our technological superiority is dependent on the effectiveness of our research and development efforts that span science and technology, component development, early prototyping, full-scale development, and technology insertion into fielded products,” Kendall wrote.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/defense/2015/04/pentagon-strives-even-better-buying-power/109900

Small is big in DoD business systems contracts … and that’s a good thing

Thirty-six years ago, a young computer programmer working out of his parents’ garage was looking for investments so he could create the world’s most user-friendly personal computer. “The programmer in question is the late Steve Jobs, and the fund that helped seed Apple in its infancy was part of the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program – the SBA’s investment arm,” said the December 19, 2014 SBA Blog.

Until recently, the Air Force struggled to meet SBA “negotiated” small business goals (SBA Agency Small Business Contracts Data), but there have been steady improvements due to a number of factors, such as implementation of the AF Small Business Improvement Plan. On January 20, the headquarters of the Air Force Materiel Command announced they’d met small business goals for the first time in nine years.

From my perspective as a member of the Air Force for 31 years who has been working on small business contracts for the Air Force the past two years, I have observed the following 10 factors driving the recent success of small business in the Air Force and other services/agencies:

Defense budgets are puckered up. Our Department of Defense (DoD) is painfully trying to balance the needs for research and development, modernizing major weapon systems, increasing personnel costs, heavy deployment requirements and soaring sustainment costs and risks for weapon systems and infrastructure. Amidst all the sequestration, continuing resolutions for funding, budget cuts and racking and stacking priorities, DoD still confronts greater requirement vs. resource deltas than ever before.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.hstoday.us/blogs/guest-commentaries/blog/new-small-is-big-in-dod-business-systems-contracts-and-that-s-a-good-thing/cd9ad5f0c912386bd3f76e9be0ba3296.html

Attention ‘agile’ contractors: Come show and tell for 18F

The Obama administration has ambitious plans to embed a full-scale digital-service team within each agency to help overhaul the way government delivers IT projects.

But the teams won’t do it alone.

Officials at the General Services Administration (GSA) and its in-house digital shop 18F are now sending a message to the traditional contracting industry: We need your help, too.

That was the takeaway from the February 3, 2015 joint GSA-18F industry day where officials and industry representatives mulled over plans for a new agile-only contracting vehicle that will eventually help agencies purchase services specifically from companies that specialize in quick-turnaround software deployments

18F has been doing its part over the past year to help agencies revamp citizen-facing services. All told, the office has agreements with about 18 agencies to perform development and design work, officials said.

The relatively small shop — its staff size currently hovers around 100 — has faced “explosive” demand for its services and can’t keep up, said Greg Godbout, 18F’s executive director.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2015/02/agile-gsa/104577

Survey: Federal procurement culture impedes innovation

Signs of technology malaise can be seen across the federal government. The Pentagon has warned that it is losing its military technological superiority as other countries rush to develop advanced conventional and cyber weapons to counter U.S. armaments and satellites. The U.S. intelligence community worries that technologies it used to own almost exclusively — like high-resolution satellite imagery, encryption and biometrics — are progressing far more rapidly in the civilian world.

These appear to be symptoms of a widespread ailment that affects government contracting, say procurement experts. “Agency acquisition professionals are not focused on innovation,” says a new report by the consulting firm Grant Thornton LLP and the Professional Services Council, a trade group that represents government contractors.

The report is based on a survey of 51 acquisition executives. Asked to rank issues based on their importance, innovation placed low. It was rated as the fifth of six objectives of a “sound acquisition process” even though senior administration officials have been emphatic about the need for agencies to become more innovative.

“Innovation is the word of the day,” and yet the bulk of the federal acquisition community has neither the incentives nor the skills to change the status quo and attract innovative vendors, says Stan Soloway, president and CEO of the Professional Services Council.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=1719

Contractors, expect 72-hour rule for disclosing corporate hacks

Look for the whole government to take a page from the Pentagon and require that firms notify their agency customers of hacks into company-owned systems within three days of detection, procurement attorneys and federal officials say.

Right now, vendors only have to report compromises of classified information and defense industry trade secrets. The trade secret rule is new and covers breaches of nonpublic military technological and scientific data, referred to as “unclassified controlled technical information.”

That new reporting requirement kicked in Nov. 18, 2013 and applies to all military contracts inked since.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cybersecurity/2014/09/contractors-expect-72-hour-rule-disclosing-corporate-hacks/95399/