Higher federal procurement standards for IT providers – Are you ready?

The White House is spearheading an interagency endeavor concentrating on software development that will determine federal procurement of information technology (IT). In the coming weeks, vendors can expect to see new IT security standards, governmentwide. This comes after many tech companies complained that the effort under the Trump administration limited the import of information and communications technology from “foreign adversaries.” While leaving the definition of the term “foreign adversary” up to the Commerce Secretary. In addition, the rule as it stands today is broad and raises concerns over due process.

The SolarWinds breach will ultimately raise the bar on vendor security, banning tech from many countries, not just China. It also focuses on vendors and the possibility of vulnerability disclosure policies that encourage reporting weaknesses in their products. Ultimately, vendors providing IT products and services to federal agencies must have the proper level of cybersecurity in place.

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Acting Director Brandon Wales said agencies are working together to ensure consistency in the government’s approach to supply chain security across the Commerce Department rule, an executive order aimed at removing foreign adversaries from the bulk power sector. Wales also said, “the administration is counting on higher federal procurement standards to elevate security across the private sector as well.”

Are your IT products compliant? Give us a call.

 

 

Are You a Solver?

The Government Effectiveness Advanced Research Center (GEAR) is responsible for improving the way the federal government solves issues. It has started making use of “Solvers” also known as academic leaders and subject matter experts in economics, design, and other creative areas.  (Federal Times, May 14, 2019)

Solvers (including participating individuals, teams, or legal entities) have been challenged by the government to tackle one or more of the major challenges facing government described in the current President’s Management Agenda (PMA). To take part in the challenge, Solvers demonstrate usefulness of a GEAR Center model that directly maps to cross-agency priority goals and proposes a workable GEAR Center model creatively addressing the PMA. (Challenge.gov)

The GEAR Center Challenge takes place in three phases: project proposal, project plan, and proposal presentations. Interested individuals or parties may submit multiple proposals to the challenge; however, only one prize per challenge will be awarded. Proposals might be used to shape the GEAR Center or as potential first steps for the long term. (Federal Times, May 14, 2019)

The first phase opened for submissions May 2nd, with each subsequent phase consisting of participants selected from the previous phases. Submissions for the first phase are due May 24, 2019. Submissions should consist of a two-page proposal summarizing the potential program, predicted outcomes, and the best possible team to implement the proposal and the materials necessary to undertake the proposal. (ibid)

Want to know more about the GEAR Center challenge? Give us a call at (301) 913-5000.

You Get What You Pay For

The Commerce Department is succeeding in an area where most other agencies have failed: the shared services arena. Glen Davidson, the former executive director of enterprise services at Commerce, who led the shared service’s effort said, “the initiative is saving millions of dollars, providing better services and setting Commerce up of for future successes.”(Miller, J., Federal News Network December 10, 2018)

According to Davidson, Commerce may have paid less in the past, but the quality of services was substandard. He felt that poor quality and lack of timeliness likely impeded the mission. Davidson believes the impact of shared services is clear particularly around IT services.

Rod Turk, the acting Commerce chief information officer, gave a great example of how shared services work.  He recently shared how something as simple as taking printers off of employees desks and moving to a centralized and secure approach reduced costs for printing and maintenance of the printers. According to Turk, the next big effort will be around IT shared services for identity credentialing and access management (ICAM).

Davidson explained why Commerce has been so successful with shared services

•A long view of the effort was taken. It was a crawl-walk-run scenario.

•Data was painstakingly collected The data set a true baseline of current costs, as in the example above, for printers.

•It was understood that it would take money to save money.

Davidson looked well beyond the cost for labor. He said, “Most people look at labor costs. But I go beyond that and look at the costs of the building, electricity, the operations, and maintenance of the technology platform and other things so I could determine total costs. There is a lot of information that currently exists in the systems that we have, but you have to go and find it. No one even knew exactly how many people were employed at Commerce. My standup costs came from Commerce’s working capital fund that is largely made up of contributions from all the bureaus in order to fund my stand up costs. I was under a great deal of scrutiny because any dollar I received meant another organization was receiving less.” (Miller, J., Federal News Network December 10, 2018)

Commerce has built a one-stop portal so that actions, including acquisition, can be accomplished via an online request. Davidson said Commerce will deliver acquisition services for its eight smallest bureaus of the Office of Secretary, mainly around commodity products and services.

Davidson said, “we can continue to deliver IT services in a more consolidated way. We will look at grants management services too. The list of possibilities is endless.” (Miller, J., Federal News Network December 10, 2018)

The current administration will use Commerce’s success as a model for other agencies.

Questions about shared services? Give us a call at 301-913-5000.