Training to Go FAST!

GSA recently announced that it will be holding a Federal Acquisition Service Training (FAST) Conference in Atlanta April 12 – 16, 2020. This event will promote constructive dialogue and facilitate an environment where the government and industry can come together to be educated on GSA’s contracting programs. (Federal News Network, May 2019)

The FAST conference is expected to provide many hours of procurement training, as well as providing GSA, government agencies, and industry with an opportunity to share information on key program initiatives, acquisition policies, commercial capabilities, and commercial marketplace trends. It will provide a forum to bring together all of GSA’s agency customers and industry partners under one roof to collaborate, educate and network. (ibid)

Have questions about the FAST conference and whether you should attend? Give us a call at 301-913-5000, and we can discuss it with you.

HHS is buying smarter

Over the past 18 months, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has been developing the Buy Smarter Initiative. The production phase has ended, and with it a new name: “Reimagined Buy Smarter.” Reimagined Buy Smarter uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze vast amounts of data, comparing prices along with other money saving plans. (Federal News Network, May 17, 2019)

Last year, 97,000 contracts were fed into an AI solution. Algorithms and a proof of concept of 10 product categories demonstrated significant price differentials on the same items. For instance, the same case of copy paper was $27 a case in one instance and $59 in another. (ibid)

DHHS wants requirements operating across all divisions in order to use of economies of scale. Through the development process, they have found that many departments order the same items, but from different contracts at pricing all over the map and duplication of efforts. With Reimagined Buy Smarter, DHHS  departments can consolidate requirements, utilize economies of scale, and eliminate unnecessary contracts. (ibid)

They plan to introduce 18 steps of technology for buyers.  The program has a $49 million multi-award Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract for a catalog of new and emerging technologies. DHHS hopes “to get a very large number of vendors who can provide services that can be shared/scaled across HHS and ultimately the entire government.” (ibid)

DHHS created the new contract due to older contracts being so outdated. The Program Support Center for DHHS receives many requests for new technologies, but by the time the contracts are awarded, they are already obsolete. Additionally, contracting officers have spent a lot of time cutting and pasting from a “paper” system, which will be answered by a pre-populating process automation. (ibid)

Findings suggest the following categories of spending:

  • Medical and lab supplies
  • Software licenses
  • Professional services (ibid)

Workgroups are forming to address consolidating contracts for shared opportunities, eliminating overlapping or unnecessary contracts, and taking advantage of economies of scale. (ibid)

Interested in discussing Reimagined Buy Smarter? Give us a call at (301) 913-5000.

GSA’s New Rules!

GSA has issued a final rule amending the following parts of  the GSA Acquisition Regulation (GSAR):

  • Part 515, Contracting by Negotiation,
  • Part 538 Federal Supply Schedule Contracting
  • GSAR Part 552, Solicitation Provisions and Contract Clauses (GSA Interact, June 3, 2019)

The above changes were enacted to clarify, update, streamline and incorporate existing Federal Supply Schedule contract administration policies and procedures. The final rule became effective on May 23, 2019. (ibid)

Changes include the following:

  • deletion of 85 obsolete/duplicative clauses and provisions (see GSA Order ADP 29800.12B Change 100)
  • incorporation of 30 “new” clauses and provisions into GSAR.
  • reincorporation of four GSA Schedules program clauses and provisions (previously removed from GSAR in a rewrite) into GSAR.
  • updating 10 existing GSA Schedules program clauses and provisions to reflect current references and practices. (ibid)

The above changes will be part of GSA’s new Consolidated Schedule solicitation. More information to follow in the coming months.

If you have questions about the GSAR rule amendments will affect your contracts, give us a call at 301-913-5000.

 

The Future is Cloud-y

In February, GSA released a draft request for proposal (RFP) to consolidate and upgrade all of the Defense Department’s back office functions into the commercial cloud. GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service is now in the early stages of doing the same for civilian agencies with Civilian Enterprise Office Solutions (CEOS). (Federal News Network, May 7, 2019)

To help ensure supply chain security, DHS took the lead on early efforts. GSA has taken over efforts to reduce the attack surface of the network. With managed service, security is already embedded in the solution, making it more secure than the currently situation. (ibid)

Alan Thomas, GSA FAS commissioner and a board member managing the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF), has recommendations/lessons learned for agencies applying for Fund loans to modernize their IT:

  • Agencies submitting proposals this year need to build incremental benchmarks into their proposal, or their funding will likely be pulled.
  • Quarterly reviews will be conducted on agencies receiving funding.
  • Agencies should make sure their proposals focus on value creation and cost savings as the agencies must pay back funding provided by TMF.
  • Agencies should coordinate internally on proposals prior to submission; otherwise, they run the risk of being turned down for funding. (ibid)

FAS is also in need of IT modernization. The FAS internal systems, FSS 19, is nearly 40 years old. It uses older programming languages (COBOL, PowerBuilder) that solved specific problems instead of approaching an integrated solution. FAS is in need of a new, updated IT solution to bring the agency out of the 1970s. (ibid)

Are you a software provider or integrator looking to bring civilian agencies into the 21st century? Let’s talk! 301-913-5000.

 

 

Outdated Software, Meet Innovation!

We all know that the Defense Department’s outdated software lags behind current industry standards. Procurement and updates take entirely too long. To get a handle on the situation, the Defense Innovation Board, through the DoD, conducted a year-long study with the results of the study, released last Friday. (Federal News Network, May 3, 2019)

The Defense Innovation Board suggests the following to get DoD software up to speed:

  • Congress updating laws to reduce procurement timeframes;
  • All military agencies working together to test and optimize software;
  • Ensuring cybersecurity; and
  • Enriching software employees through services. (ibid)

The DoD undersecretary would like to complete multiple pilots with one line of funds for software development, which would give DoD administrative flexibility. Other suggestions include special pathways for rapid acquisition of applications and upgrades, quicker turnaround time for software requirements processes, and a fund available for rapid software acquisition and upgrades. (ibid)

Any new defense acquisition system should be optimized for software-centric (not hardware) systems that prioritize security, speed, and cycle time over cost, schedule, and strict requirements.. Additionally, “DoD will need to create and maintain an interoperable digital infrastructure that enables rapid deployment, scaling, testing and optimization of software as an enduring capability; manage it using modern development methods and eliminate the existing hardware-centric regulations and other barriers for software programs.” (ibid)

The report emphasizes bringing software development into the modern age by making it a high-priority career track with specialized recruiting, education, promotions, and salaries to attract the talent necessary to maintain, optimize, and develop products over time. It also pointed out that procurement requirements must move from rigid lists to a format of desired features and required characteristics: this will keep programs from bottlenecking. (ibid)

The Pentagon is currently rewriting D0D’s primary acquisition policy document, Instruction 5000.02, in an effort to start improving the acquisition process.  Many see this as a step in the right direction, albeit a small one.

Do you have a talent pool ready to work with DoD to modernize their software and new acquisition process? Give us a call at 301-913-5000, and we can talk about your options.