Outdated Software, Meet Innovation!

We all know that the Defense Department’s outdated software lags behind current industry standards.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.

The Eagle (II) is Not Landing

DHS will not be recompeting their EAGLE II IT services contract when it expires in 2020. They are moving toward a strategy called EAGLE Next Gen, which allows them to rely on existing contracts in order to meet IT services needs. Agile development and special or niche mission needs will be met by smaller targeted contracts competed as necessary. (Nextgov, April 20, 2019)

The EAGLE Next Gen strategy is just that, a strategy whereby DHS would use already established governmentwide acquisition contracts or GWACs. These include:

  • the National Institutes of Health’s CIO-SP3 and CIO-SP3 Small Business
  • GSA’s Alliant 2, 8(a) STARS II
  • GSA’s VETS 2

When requirements cannot be met by this strategy, DHS will build in-house contracts.

So far, DHS is beginning to build an in-house contract for cloud and data center optimization. Over 100 responses were received from their initial RFI. Most likely, resulting RFPs will ultimately be the family of contracts under DHS Next Gen, and are expected in the Fall. (ibid)

Some Homeland Security components are still using EAGLE II to support their agile development. Work with each of the components is at various phases of the procurement process. Each component has different requirements; therefore procurements will be specialized to meet individual needs. (ibid)

The future procurement strategy is far from finalized. There may be full and open competition or a blanket purchase agreement using pre-vetted vendors.

Would you like to learn more about the EAGLE Next Gen strategy and where you might fit in? Give us a call at (301) 913-5000.

 

Automating Robots, the GSA Way

To deal with the breakneck pace of emerging technology, GSA has formed a Community of Practice (CoP), specifically for Robotic Process Automation (RPA). This will give government leaders a forum to collaborate and share ideas on how RPA might be implemented into respective agencies.  (GSA.gov, April 2019)

Executive Sponsors of the RPA CoP are GSA Chief Financial Officer Gerard Badorrek and GSA Technology Transformation Services Director Anil Cheriyan. The CoP will be chaired by Ed Burrows of the GSA Office of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). (ibid)

The RPA aims to shift members of the federal workforce from low-value to high-value work. Additionally, it allows agencies to cost-effectively automate manual, repetitive, and rule-based operations. (ibid)

Some RPA benefits include:

  • Improving and re-engineering processes as they are automated
  • Using fewer resources to complete work
  • Increasing the efficiency of existing operations
  • Reducing costs partly by absorbing various new requirements without additional hiring or spending
  • Reducing processing errors
  • Reducing processing cycle times (ibid)

The GSA Office of the CFO will leverage the existing TTS CoP management capabilities to lead the RPA CoP. If all goes as planned, the RPA CoP will assist in advancing agency missions well into the future.

Do you have questions about the RPA CoP? Give us a call at 301-913-5000 to discuss how this can affect you.

 

Innovate and Create Opportunities!

A number of federal agencies are updating their acquisition strategies to attract small technology businesses and innovators, in an effort to speed up the time-to-market of technology solutions. (Fedscoop, April 2019) Here’s a breakdown:

  •  The National Science Foundation (NSF) – In 2017, the NSF published “Ten Big Ideas” for investing in tech pilots. The first two of these — harnessing the data revolution (a proprietary type Siri)  and the future of work — are moving forward. NSF is shaking things up a bit by looking at startups and nonprofits to award a $1 million planning grant toward phase two delivery. Past proposals were only accepted from academia. (ibid)
  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  – The Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) within DHS operates like a startup, including in its acquisition process and a similar talent pool. SVIP has shortened their proposals to just 10 pages with a 15-minute pitch followed by a 15-minute question/answer period. Awards are now made within 24 hours as opposed to the month-long timeframe previously experienced by potential awardees. (ibid)
  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – Customs and Border Protection are currently involved with the Internet of Things security interacting with blockchain and distributed ledger tech. Recently SVIP issued an RFP for a solution to issue credentials, using blockchain or ledger technology. (ibid)
  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) – TSA is hoping to speed up the checkpoint process. Using similar solutions, Customs will track the movement of oil from Canadian pipelines. (ibid)
  • The Cyber Apex Solutions Consortium (CASC) – CASC is working with DHS within the financial services sector to identify cybersecurity solutions. With varying budgets, generally due to the size financial entities, they plan on pulling together tech components to create solutions. DHS takes into consideration the consortium’s recommendations, then chooses the solutions to fund in order to solve the issue. (ibid)

With the time to respond to RFPs growing shorter and technology changing so quickly, contractors must be more nimble than ever in their ability to resolve federal agency issues.

Are you aware of the many new strategies federal agencies are deploying to solve their tech issues? Give us a call at 301-913-5000 if you’re interested in discussing some.

 

TSA = Try Speedy Action?

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) powers that be can stress out, just like TSA lines can stress us all out, especially running late for a flight. But to keep lines short and travelers safe, TSA requires the latest technology, which often becomes antiquated while in testing/evaluation. (Nextgov, April 2019Now the agency is turning to contractors to help speed the timeline.

In 2014 TSA began work on a third-party testing program, finalizing it this January. (Prior to 2014 TSA relied on the Homeland Security Department’s Science and Technology Directorate to provide testing teams and data.) The new third-party testing allows TSA to review and accept data from external data sources and includes third-party testing organizations for use in system evaluation, per a Request For Information (RFI) posted in Fedbizopps last week. (ibid)

TSA wants to step away from the process, handing it off to a contractor that can handle the entire testing lifecycle, including managing cooperation between the manufacturer, industry provider, and testing organization. According to the RFI, bidding companies must already maintain a stable of pre-vetted/qualified testing organizations for all required areas, prior to their bid submission. (ibid)

Fedbizopps shows that TSA will consider small businesses and consortiums of multiple complementing firms and of potential third-party testing organizations. (ibid)

Questions are due by 29 April, RFI responses by noon on 22 May.

Interesting, huh? This could be worth a lot of money to the right contractors. Call us at 301-913-5000 if you’d like to discuss the RFI requirements further.