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Archive for December 2009

DorobekInsider: White House names Leeds as GSA’s new acting administrator

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We told you about it first right here last week — and it will be official today — the White House has accepted the resignation of GSA acting administrator Paul Prouty and has designated Stephen R. Leeds as GSA’s new acting administrator pending confirmation of Martha Johnson as the GSA administrator.

Prouty will return home to his family in Denver — he hasn’t been shy about deeply missing his family, which you just have to respect. Prouty will continue to serve as the Regional Commissioner of Public Buildings and he will continue to serve the agency in a senior advisory capacity.

GSA's Stephen Leeds

GSA's Stephen Leeds

Leeds has been serving as Senior Counselor to the Administrator. In that role, he has played an integral role at GSA helping to guide GSA’s Recovery Act programs and to lead GSA’s green efforts as the Senior Sustainability Officer, insiders say.

Prouty is generally given very high marks for his tenure as acting administrator, but there are ongoing concerns within the agency about the lack top political leadership because of the hold by Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) on the nomination of Martha Johnson. Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) has a hold on the Johnson nomination ostensibly about the development of a federal facility in Kansas City.

GSAers are also saying that GSA is also confirming the resignation early next year of deputy administrator Barnaby (Barney) L. Brasseux, who has been serving in that post since September 2008. We hear that administration officials had offered him the opportunity to return to be deputy commissioner at GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, a post that will be vacated by Tyree Varnado starting in January, but Brasseux has decided to retire. (Hear our delightful exit interview with Varnado from Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris here.) And we continue to hear that the deputy administrator post will be filled by Susan Brita, who is a staff director on Capitol Hill. Look for an announcement early next year.

FCW’s Matthew Weigelt reports that the Brita announcement was awaiting the Johnson confirmation, but I’m hearing that, with no end in sight to the Johnson fight, they may announce her appointment regardless. But I’m still hearing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may attempt a cloture vote on Johnson’s nomination — among others.

Here is what Weigelt reported:

Brita currently is staff director for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee. Brita was waiting to make the move to GSA when Johnson was confirmed, but the appointment has stalled since spring 2009. The move is expected to happened despite Senate’s inaction on Johnson’s nomination.

Other changes are likely in the coming months. We’ll stay tuned.

Written by cdorobek

December 22, 2009 at 11:50 AM

DorobekInsider: What you read Dec. 13-19 on the DorobekInsider, Daily Debrief, and FederalNewsRadio.com

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The most read stories from the week of Dec. 13-19, 2009…

from the DorobekInsider.com

  1. DorobekInsider: BREAKING NEWS — Sens. Collins, McCaskill, Bennett introduce acquisition workfo
  2. DorobekInsider: More GSA FAS shifts — King to retire, Ghiloni shifts, and FAS SES regional com
  3. DorobekInsider: Rumoring around the halls of GSA — playing GSA musical chairs
  4. DorobekInsider: The Better Buy Project — the liner notes
  5. DorobekInsider: GSA’s Tyree Varnado to retire — You can find our “exit interview” with Varndao here (see number 5 below) … and find GSA FAS Commissioner Jim Williams comments about Varnado here.
  6. DorobekInsider: What you read in 2009: Mike Causey edition
  7. DorobekInsider: What you read Dec. 6-12 on the DorobekInsider, Daily Debrief, and FederalNewsRadio.c
  8. DorobekInsider: What you read 11.28 through 12.05 on the DorobekInsider, Daily Debrief, and FederalN
  9. DorobekInsider: Lieberman, Collins want Networx delay answers
  10. DorobekInsider: The buzz of the Input holiday party 2009
  11. DorobekInsider EXCLUSIVE: USDA undertakes extensive management reorg – downgrading the CIO, CF
  12. DorobekInsider: USDA gets approval for employee buy outs from OPM as mega-management reorg continues
  13. DorobekInsider: The liner notes: Why blog — or Web 2.0 — anyway?
  14. DorobekInsider on DC’s NewsChannel 8 tonight talking about the war on “social networking
  15. DorobekInsider: What’s the deal with GSA administrator nominee Johnson? The Kansas City Star f
  16. DorobekInsider: OMB hires performance guru Shelley Metzenbaum
  17. DorobekInsider: Stories of the Decade: Looking at the changing government marketplace
  18. DorobekInsider: Most read stories Nov. 22-28 on the DorobekInsider, the DailyDebrief, and FederalNew
  19. DorobekInsider: Changes within the VA IT shop
  20. DorobekInsider: USDA gets early out approval from OPM as mega-management reorg continues
  21. DorobekInsider: USDA gets push back on massive management reorg, GovExec reports; USDA remains silen
  22. DorobekInsider: Ho-ho-ho… and recognize our troops
  23. DorobekInsider: UPDATE – Grams to join VA as principal deputy assistant secretary for manageme
  24. Ed DeSeve to join the Obama administration
  25. DorobekInsider: What are the stories that shaped the government’s world in the past decade? Fe

…from the Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris

  1. Postal Service’s National Reassessment Process
  2. Stories of the Decade: TSP sees many positive changes
  3. Coming up on Your Turn: A personal Open Season?
  4. Stories of the Decade: 10 years of missed opportunities for the CIO
  5. GSA’s Tyree Varnado reflects on 39 years of government service
  6. The new Office of Government Information Services
  7. DHS, Michigan launch cybersecurity partnership EINSTEIN-ONE
  8. Unisys predicts increased focus on biometrics, data protection in 2010
  9. Labor Department launches Web challenge seeking best practices
  10. Friday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  11. Stories of the Decade: Mobile technology changing the business of government
  12. NTEU president talks about Labor-Management forums; pay raise
  13. Military Health System blog exceeds expectations
  14. Analysis: Interagency Taskforce releases report on unclassified information
  15. TSP’s Trabucco: Thrift Savings Plan posts strong results in November
  16. DoD begins gathering data per Open Government Initiative
  17. How your Thrift Savings Plan has changed over the past decade
  18. The role of social media in terrorist recruitment
  19. Stories of the Decade: Information sharing and cybersecurity
  20. New NIST director outlines goals
  21. Stories of the Decade: The relevance of the federal government
  22. Participants borrow less from their TSP accounts
  23. Former ODNI CIO Meyerrose talks about cybersecurity’s future
  24. Will House healthcare bill affect the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program?
  25. IT habits are changing at Veterans Affairs
  26. GSA’s new deal for geospatial services
  27. Ins and outs of the 2010 spending bill
  28. Update: Feds owe billions in back taxes
  29. DARPA Network Challenge winner discusses lessons learned
  30. House examines various missions of National Archives
  31. Update: OMB, NIST release draft of new FISMA metrics
  32. SAVE award nominee talks about saving money at the VA
  33. USDA’s Donald Sanders discusses employee reorganization
  34. FEMA director says agency tackles more than just hurricanes
  35. Preview: Examining management organization at DHS
  36. Budget passback language details plethora of requirements
  37. Stories of the Decade: Watching the creation of the Homeland Security Department
  38. Stories of the Decade: How 9/11 changed the public’s perception of federal employees
  39. Postal Service’s National Reassessment Process (4:05)
  40. Lawmakers continue to discuss turning unused sick leave into TSP dollars
  41. Stories of the Decade: How government/industry collaboration has changed
  42. FireEye partners with In-Q-Tel to secure Intelligence Community
  43. NIST reassures agencies on FISMA compliance; do feds know enough about cybersecurity?
  44. Friday Fun Day!
  45. Update: TSP’s Roth option
  46. Holiday dinner….In Space!

and from FederalNewsRadio.com

  1. Congress tells agencies to check creditworthiness of employees
  2. Open Season resource: All you need to know before Monday
  3. At the VA, a new CIO reports progress on IT management
  4. Sen. Voinovich puts hold on key DHS nominee
  5. DHS continues effort to right-size management structure
  6. House passes omnibus spending bill with pay raise, agency funding
  7. Idea to reuse medication at VA hospitals wins SAVE Award
  8. 2010 Census to get a cold start in late January
  9. OMB, NIST release draft of new FISMA metrics
  10. White House cuts federal pay raise
  11. GSA inks deal with four vendors for geospatial services
  12. EXCLUSIVE: OMB guidance sets technology tone for 2010, beyond
  13. National Archives closed on Saturday
  14. Agencies to justify not using cloud computing to OMB
  15. NIST director striving for optimization of its labs
  16. House panel probes dual-roles of National Archives
  17. Admin. Babbitt: Human error, not technology, behind November FAA outage
  18. Grassley: Pursuing federal contractor tax deadbeats a matter of ‘fairness’
  19. Federal cloud professionals expand partnerships
  20. Salary Council suggests locality pay increase for 2011
  21. NIST director striving for optimization of labs
  22. Smithsonian’s new Zoo director highlights a tough week
  23. Senate: Con artists are using stimulus scams to fleece citizens
  24. NSPS another step closer to ending; FERS ‘flu’ cure a “done deal”
  25. DoD makes NSPS pay raise equal to GS employees
  26. Executive Order creates labor-management forums
  27. Open Government Initiative Resource
  28. Senate committee increases civilian pay raise to 2.9 percent for 2010
  29. Fed IT gurus tout potential of IT and government openness
  30. OPM gives feds two extra months to decide on long-term care changes
  31. NASA issues first RFP under I3P program
  32. OPM says safety is paramount in government closure decisions
  33. House committee does not address civilian pay raise for 2010
  34. Transition out of NSPS begins
  35. VA puts 45 IT projects on hold
  36. White House puts SAVE Awards cost-cutting ideas to vote
  37. Agency cybersecurity reporting to get makeover
  38. DHS, states work to create Virtual USA
  39. Budget would cap pay raises for feds
  40. GSA releases FY 2010 per diem rates
  41. Recovery.gov and Ed DeSeve v. Stephen Colbert
  42. For telework and COOP, GSA leads the way
  43. Congress allocates more for e-gov fund than ever before
  44. Open government initiative puts agencies on the clock
  45. NSPS over and FERS Flu cured, Senate Passes Defense Authorization Bill
  46. GSA, DHS ready RFPs for Security LOB
  47. Agencies report progress, at last, on security clearance reform
  48. Veterans Affairs restarts some of its suspended projects

Written by cdorobek

December 21, 2009 at 11:30 AM

DorobekInsider: What you read in 2009: Mike Causey edition

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As the year comes to a close, the DorobekInsider will feature the stories that you read across Federal News Radio. Today, Federal News Radio senior correspondent Mike Causey — and these are the columns that you read on Mike Causey’s Federal Report over the past 12-months:

  1. $250 (Better Than A Chicken) In Every Pot!
  2. The F-Word: Don’t Quit Your Daytime Job
  3. Bonus Christmas Holiday
  4. Sick Leave Phase In…
  5. The Biggest Loser
  6. Insurance or Entitlement?
  7. New Tax Break For Retirees?
  8. Show Me The Buyout!
  9. Big Time Changes In Your TSP
  10. Section: Mike Causey
  11. D-Day Coming in September
  12. Bigger Buyouts = Fewer Employees
  13. Taxing Your Health Premiums
  14. How To Hit The 2010 Retirement Trifecta
  15. Inertia In Action
  16. Feds On a Winning Streak
  17. Memo To The White House
  18. CSRS vs. FERS: Somebody’s Got it Made!
  19. Furloughs In Paradise?
  20. Wisdom of the Crowd
  21. Missed Opportunities
  22. Postal Service Buyout Rumor (No. 63)
  23. Retirees Get One-Shot $$
  24. ID Theft: Cover Your Assets
  25. Smoking Hot Bill
  26. 2 Per Cent Raise, but Which 2 Percent?
  27. Rumors on Steroids
  28. Investing Genius: No Big Deal!
  29. Health Premiums Could Slam Retirees
  30. World’s Best, Feds-Only CD!
  31. Inflation/Deflation: You Gotta Pick One!
  32. Great Year For Feds…So Far
  33. Horrible Rumor Club Launched!
  34. FERS Sick Leave Cure: Rumor vs. Reality
  35. When it Rains, It Pours
  36. Going Part-Time Into Retirement
  37. Big Career Changes Coming at You
  38. April In Slow Motion
  39. The Rules of Engagement
  40. In-house or Out-house?
  41. TSP Changes Timetable
  42. Double Standard On Sick Leave???
  43. Why We Cower
  44. Work Longer For a Smaller Benefit?
  45. Work/Retirement Tipping Point
  46. Pay Raise: Back To The Future
  47. Winter Closings: Very Early Warning
  48. New Benefits: Good News, Bad News
  49. Health Care Reform & Your Health Plan
  50. FERS Flu Pandemic?
  51. Friends In High Places
  52. Deflation Blues and News
  53. FEHBP Premiums: Only Half The Story
  54. Health Care Reform: Good For the Feds!
  55. A Spicy New Investment Option?
  56. Your 2010 Pay Raise: Go Figure
  57. Flat Line Pay Raise
  58. New Benefits: What’s In It For You?
  59. Missed Opportunities Part Two
  60. FERS Flu Cure Puffing Along
  61. Pay Raise, What’s That?
  62. Your Overdue Bills
  63. Losing a Lifetime Benefit
  64. When Zero is Better Than Minus
  65. A Smoking Hot Deal For Feds
  66. A One-Shot, $150 Payment?
  67. FERS Flu Cure A Dead Duck?
  68. Going Part-Time
  69. Low Ball or Fair Ball Pay Raise?
  70. Triple Play For Feds
  71. Happy Days for TSP Investors
  72. Things To Come
  73. Pay Raise Guessing Game
  74. So, Who Drew the Short Straw?
  75. Down And Out At GS-15
  76. Contractors: From Valley Forge to the Pentagon
  77. Health Premiums Up, Pay Not So Much!
  78. Annual/Sick Leave Into TSP Dollars?
  79. Back in the Loop
  80. Pay Raise: No Thanks!
  81. Pay Raise Horse Beats COLA Mule
  82. Congress Targets FSA Tax Break
  83. Sick Leave Debate Makes Some Feds Sick
  84. FERS Flu Cure Yet to Come
  85. Resetting Your Retirement Clock
  86. Elusive Benefits
  87. Deflation Blues
  88. Family Feud: Caught In The Crossfire
  89. GS 15s Enter Valley of Dearth
  90. What’s Not Gonna Happen & Why
  91. Another Reason To Hang Tight
  92. And the Biggest Loser Is…
  93. Health Plans: The Usual Suspects, except…
  94. Pay Protection for Mobilized Feds
  95. Big Change In Starting Pay
  96. Back Story on the Tobacco Bill
  97. The Year of The Fed
  98. COLA: A Fast-Moving Target
  99. Tidal Wave Running A Little Late
  100. Things Are Looking Up… So Far

Written by cdorobek

December 18, 2009 at 6:00 AM

DorobekInsider: BREAKING NEWS — Sens. Collins, McCaskill, Bennett introduce acquisition workforce bills

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UPDATED with the text of the bills…

Breaking news — Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Bob Bennett (R-UT) have just introduced two bills that seek to improve the federal acquisition workforce.

The Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act of 2009 would create a federal acquisition management fellows program to help mention a new generation of acquisition leaders with government-wide perspective, skills and experience. Read the text of the bill here.

The second bill is the Federal Acquisition Institute Improvement Act of 2009 and it would prompt a reorganization allowing the Federal Acquisition Institute to help fulfill its mission. Read the text of the bill here.

Here is the full release:

SENATORS COLLINS, McCASKILL, BENNETT INTRODUCE TWO BILLS TO BOLSTER THE FEDERAL ACQUISITION WORKFORCE
The bipartisan measures stress mentoring, career development, management

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Improving the federal acquisition workforce system through training and better management is the focus of two bills that were introduced Thursday by Senators Susan Collins, R-Me., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Bob Bennett, R-Ut.

The first bill, “The Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act of 2009,” would create a federal acquisition management fellows program to help mentor a new generation of acquisition leaders with government-wide perspective, skills, and experience. It would combine both a Master’s degree-level academic curriculum with on-the-job training in multiple federal agencies. By partnering with leading universities that have specialized government acquisition programs, the government can attract top-caliber students who are interested in pursuing both academic advancement and public service.

The second bill, “The Federal Acquisition Institute Improvement Act of 2009,” would prompt reorganization, allowing the Federal Acquisition Institute (FAI) to fulfill its mission of aiding career development and maximizing the potential of federal acquisition workforce.

“The federal acquisition system is under tremendous stress,” said Senator Collins. “Between fiscal years 2000 and 2008, acquisition spending by the federal government expanded by 163 percent, from $205 billion to $539 billion. The rising costs of military operations, natural disasters, homeland security precautions, and other vital programs will drive those expenditures to even higher levels in the years ahead.”

This requires professionally trained and invested acquisition personnel, who can manage these huge expenditures while also guarding against the possibility of waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars. “This prodigious level of purchasing creates abundant opportunities for fraud, waste, and abuse. We have seen far too many outrageous failures in government contracting, such as unusable trailers for hurricane victims, shoddy construction of schools and clinics in Afghanistan, or the installation of showers in Iraq for our troops that pose electric-shock hazards. These and other failures demand strong steps to protect taxpayer dollars and deliver better acquisition outcomes.”

Said Senator McCaskill: “With the increases we’ve seen in government contracting, it is unacceptable that our acquisition workforce is falling behind in terms of training and resources they need to effectively oversee spending. If we want to improve the way the government spends money, we need more well-trained people on the front lines so that they can better prevent waste, fraud, and abuse by writing and carrying out good contracts. This will ensure that the taxpayers are getting the best bang for their buck.”

Added Senator Bennett: “Responsible federal contracting relies on careful, informed analysis by all components of the acquisition workforce. Workforce development is a pillar for strengthened acquisition practices and improved performance. Without a well trained and capable acquisition workforce, our federal contracting efforts will not improve.”

Senator Collins, a long-time advocate for stronger competition, accountability, and transparency in government contracting, said she recognizes and appreciates “the steps the Administration has taken recently to improve federal contracting. Many of these initiatives originated from legislation I co-authored with Senator Lieberman, ID-Conn., during the last Congress. But no matter how many laws we pass or OMB guidance documents are issued, the effectiveness of our federal acquisition system depends on a vital human component – the acquisition workforce.”

While contract spending has risen dramatically, the number of acquisition professionals who help plan, award, and oversee these contracts has been stagnant. And with roughly half of the current acquisition workforce eligible to retire over the next decade, the difficulties of strengthening that workforce will become increasingly acute. A well-trained and well-resourced acquisition workforce is critical to keeping pace with increased federal spending and much more complex procurements of services and goods.

The Obama Administration has identified acquisition workforce development as a pillar for improving acquisition practices and contract performance.

To make that goal a reality, the three Senators authored the two bills in order to deliver specific and concrete action to solve the problem. The Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act and the Federal Acquisition Institute Improvement Act are critically needed and both enjoy bipartisan support. The Senators urged their colleagues to support the measures.

Written by cdorobek

December 17, 2009 at 3:38 PM

DorobekInsider: Rumoring around the halls of GSA — playing GSA musical chairs

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There is a lot of buzz surrounding the General Services Administration, so… I’m saying this up front — this is all unconfirmed, but… it is the buzz. (That caveat allows me to say ‘as theDorobekInsider reported’ if it is true… but gives me cover if it isn’t… and things are changing so quickly.)

* The Johnson nomination: We’re hearing that the nomination of Martha Johnson to be the administrator of the General Services Administration may just be brought to a cloture vote. (For those who don’t know — I had to look it up — is the process of breaking a filibuster.) And for those who haven’t been following it as closely, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) has a hold on the Johnson nomination ostensibly about the development of a federal facility in Kansas City. But we hear that development is really just a side show for what has become a somewhat bitter political battle between Bond and friends and GSA and the administration. We hear that GSA has numbers that shows the Bond development proposal is a bad deal for the government. I haven’t been able to get my hands on that information. But I also hear that GSA has acted somewhat unartfully in its dealings with Bond. Regardless, unlike some senators who are very open and transparent when they put a hold on a nomination, Bond and his staff have not. It seems unfair and to disregard important work that GSA is trying to accomplish. Anyway, the talk on Capitol Hill is that Johnson’s name is among a list of people that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is looking to bring to a vote. There had been some talk of a recess nomination — or even another administration post for Johnson. UPDATE: We’re hearing that any action on Capitol Hill might not come until January.

* Who will be acting in the meantime?: There are rampant rumors that Paul Prouty, the current acting administrator who has made no secret of his desire to return to his home in Denver — he has teenage children, one of whom will be heading off to college very soon and DadProuty would like to spend time with his kids and family. But we also hear that there is a time period — 270 days — after which nominees have to start paying local taxes. I haven’t been able to find information on it, but… Prouty has to be approaching that timetable. Prouty tells me: “Everyone knows I’m eager to go home; however, nothing to report.”

* Acting Administrator Leeds?: Who might replace Prouty? Many pings that it might be Stephen Leeds, who in August took the post as Senior Counselor to the GSA Administrator. (The link to his bio page from GSA’s leadership Web site wasn’t working for me.) One person described Leeds as a “placeholder,” but it raises some concern given that Leeds has been with GSA for all of four months. While people are impressed by him personally, it is a difficult job to step into at best… and nobody knows how long they may just serve in that post. Just askProuty.

* Brasseux to retire — by the end of the year: That is what people are saying — GSA deputy administrator Barnaby (Barney) L. Brasseux, who has been serving in that post since September 2008. We hear that administration officials had offered him the opportunity to return to be deputy commissioner at GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, a post that will be vacated by Tyree Varnado starting in January, but Brasseux has decided to retire. (Hear our delightful exit interview with Varnado from Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris here.)

* So who becomes GSA’s deputy administrator? We’re hearing Susan Brita, who is a staff director on Capitol Hill — we’re hearing an announcement could come early next year. Apparently Brita has been strongly pushed by Rep. Elenore Holmes Norton (D-DC).

* GSA FAS deputy — no names floating: With Varnado retiring, there is no name yet for that key post. There is some concern amongst GSA watchers that there is a lot of procurement knowledge that is either retiring — or planning on retiring — leaving potential gaps in key positions.

Things are evolving very quickly, so… we’re trying to keep an eye on all of it.

As we say in radio… stay tuned.

Written by cdorobek

December 17, 2009 at 1:14 PM

DorobekInsider: The Better Buy Project — the liner notes

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I have mentioned that I will be moderating a panel on Wednesday morning talking about the Better Buy Project, which is an innovative collaborative platform for improving the government procurement process. Find more at betterbuyproject.com. There is more information on the ACT/IAC Web site here.

Here are the details:

We are pleased to announce the next IAC Executive Session featuring The BetterBuy Project on December 16th, 2009 from 9:00am – 10:30am at The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), 900 7th Street, N.W., Suite 600, Washington, DC 20001.

The BetterBuy Project, a collaborative initiative between the General Services Administration (GSA), the American Council for Technology/Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC) and the National Academy for Public Administration (NAPA), has become front page news and has captured the attention of both government and industry acquisition professionals. The initiative is focused on collecting ideas that will make the federal acquisition process more open, transparent and participatory through the implementation of collaborative processes and collaborative technology.

Come and learn more about this dynamic project and how it could change – for the better – the way the government buys products and services.

BetterBuy Panelists:

  • Chris Dorobek, Managing Editor of FederalNewsRadio.com and Co- Anchor of the afternoon Federal News Radio program (Moderator)
  • Mary Davie, Assistant Commissioner of GSA’s Office of Assisted Acquisition Services
  • Peter Tuttle, Senior Procurement Policy Analyst with Distributed Solutions, Inc.
  • Chris Hamm, Operations Director of GSA’s Federal Systems Integration and Management Center (FEDSIM)
  • Esther Burgess, SVP and Deputy COO of Vistronix, Inc.
  • Lena Trudeau, Director of Strategic Initiatives for the National Academy for Public Administration (NAPA)

On Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, we spoke with Davie about the Better Buy Project. Hear that conversation here.

Harvard Kennedy School professor Steve Kelman wrote about the Better Buy Project in his FCW.com blog The Lectern under the headline, Better Buy: Crowdsourcing at work in acquisition forum:

The basic idea behind the Better Buy project is so-called “crowdsourcing.” The Better Buy Web site invites people to propose ideas for improving the procurement process. Others are then invited to vote on which ideas they like best — each computer from which a person votes is allowed a total of up to 20 votes, of which up to three may be allocated to a given proposal. People may also post comments about the proposals.

Read more from Kelman here.

Some details of what has happened so far:

  • 88 unique ideas submitted
  • 223 voters
  • 761 votes cast

At the forum, we’re going to talk about how this came about and how difficult it was… and what has worked well and what can be improved.

I love this project because it is a group of people talking in the GovLoop Acquisition 2.0 community who decided to make something happen — and they are trying it. I think there will be many lessons learned.

If you have thoughts, I hope you will share your ideas.

Some FAQ information from the Better Buy Project:

Why the Federal Acquisition Process?

On his first day in office, President Obama challenged leaders in government to “use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of Government, and with nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals in the private sector.” The acquisition process represents one of the most important areas of collaboration between government and the private sector.

Unfortunately, it is also among the most complex and least transparent. The Better Buy Project is an experiment dedicated to the belief that there’s a lot of room for improvement in the way government buys products and services. We’re testing this hypothesis by asking for your ideas on how to make acquisition process more open, transparent and collaborative.

The best part of this project is that the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) GSA would really like to adopt some of your best ideas. Promising ideas will be selected by GSA to be piloted on an upcoming acquisition, where lessons learned will be captured for future implementation. But that really depends on us, and the ideas we’re able to produce.

What Topics Are At Issue?

This project is concerned primarily with the pre-contract-award stages of the acquisition process—the activities that take place before the government “signs on the dotted line” to buy a product or service. Those areas are:

  • Market Research and Requirements Definition Phase—Includes publicizing agency needs and requirements, and refining them based on further input and research about current capabilities.
  • Pre-Solicitation Phase—Includes web-based research, discussions with other federal agencies, meetings and open discussion forums with the private sector to discuss potential solutions, and requests for information soliciting input and ideas. The requirements are also further refined at this stage in the process.
  • Solicitation Phase—Includes the government notifying the private sector of the requirement through various channels such as E-Buy and FedBizOpps, holding open forums to discuss the requirement and answer questions (e.g., Industry Days), a review of the solicitation by interested companies, the written exchange between government and the private sector of questions, answers and clarifications on government requirements, and proposal submissions.

The ultimate goal is to improve how government learns about and chooses what it buys—in other words, to make government a more informed, more effective consumer.

What Kind of Feedback Are You Looking For?

We are looking for ideas to make federal acquisition more open, transparent, and collaborative. What does that mean?

  • Open—Raise awareness of upcoming needs government is trying to fulfill, in order to assemble a pool of qualified providers who can compete on specific requirements.
  • Transparent—Give the public and interested parties timely data on upcoming and ongoing buying activities, with the goal of promoting fair and high-quality competitions.
  • Collaborative—Find ways for the government to engage in more ‘open’ conversations with the private sector on topics such as best practices, emerging technologies and innovations, and market conditions.

We believe that making the process more open, transparent and collaborative will make government more likely to end up with the right item at the right price.

Written by cdorobek

December 15, 2009 at 1:42 PM

DorobekInsider: What you read Dec. 6-12 on the DorobekInsider, Daily Debrief, and FederalNewsRadio.com

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DorobekInsider: What you read Dec. 6-12 on the DorobekInsider, Daily Debrief, and FederalNewsRadio.com
The most read stories from the week of Dec. 6-12, 2009…

…from the DorobekInsider.com

  1. DorobekInsider: Lieberman, Collins want Networx delay answers
  2. DorobekInsider: The buzz of the Input holiday party 2009
  3. DorobekInsider EXCLUSIVE: USDA undertakes extensive management reorg – downgrading the CIO, CF
  4. DorobekInsider: What you read 11.28 through 12.05 on the DorobekInsider, Daily Debrief, and FederalN
  5. DorobekInsider: GSA’s Tyree Varnado to retire
  6. DorobekInsider: The liner notes: Why blog — or Web 2.0 — anyway?
  7. DorobekInsider: More GSA FAS shifts — King to retire, Ghiloni shifts, and FAS SES regional com
  8. DorobekInsider: USDA gets approval for employee buy outs from OPM as mega-management reorg continues
  9. DorobekInsider: Stories of the Decade: Looking at the changing government marketplace
  10. DorobekInsider on DC’s NewsChannel 8 tonight talking about the war on “social networking
  11. DorobekInsider: NYT covers concern over Scientology’s buy of Governing
  12. DorobekInsider: OMB hires performance guru Shelley Metzenbaum
  13. DorobekInsider: What you read in November 2009 on the DorobekInsider, Daily Debrief and FederalNewsR
  14. DorobekInsider: Gov 2.0 moves beyond ’social media’ — and why it’s more than
  15. DorobekInsider: USDA officials offer more details on management reorganization
  16. DorobekInsider.com: Jerry Williams to take the HUD CIO helm
  17. DorobekInsider: USDA gets early out approval from OPM as mega-management reorg continues
  18. DorobekInsider: Changes within the VA IT shop
  19. DorobekInsider: UPDATED – Grams to join VA as principal deputy assistant secretary for managem
  20. Ed DeSeve to join the Obama administration
  21. DorobekInsider: USDA gets push back on massive management reorg, GovExec reports; USDA remains silen
  22. DorobekInsider: OPM’s Berry reorganizes giving the CIO a more prominent role
  23. DorobekInsider: Most read stories Nov. 22-28 on the DorobekInsider, the DailyDebrief, and FederalNew
  24. DorobekInsider: What are the stories that shaped the government’s world in the past decade? Fe
  25. DorobekInsider: What’s the deal with GSA administrator nominee Johnson? The Kansas City Star finds out

…from the Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris

  1. TSP’s Trabucco: Thrift Savings Plan posts strong results in November
  2. Open Season is ending, prepare to get the details on Your Turn
  3. Stories of the Decade: How 9/11 changed the public’s perception of federal employees
  4. TSP Snapshot Snippet: Economic recovery, improved TSP?
  5. DoD begins gathering data per Open Government Initiative
  6. Agencies sued for policy documents on 2.0 information collection
  7. The future of transparency and how to successfully develop trust
  8. Monday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  9. Friday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  10. How 9/11 changed the public’s perception of federal employees
  11. How your Thrift Savings Plan has changed over the past decade
  12. OMB to require agencies to participate in cloud pilot projects
  13. Labor Department launches Web challenge seeking best practices
  14. Tom Davis: ‘Mindset has changed markedly’ on procurement
  15. Public ranks government healthcare Web sites high in new report
  16. Lessons learned from the changing role of the state CIO
  17. Decade of disasters, war changed government contracting
  18. Agencies need to get personal when it comes to recruiting
  19. SAVE award nominee talks about saving money at the VA
  20. Is global climate change going to affect the U.S. Coast Guard?
  21. Open Government Initiative analysis from White House officials
  22. Former OFPP official Burton looks back on 10 years of procurement
  23. NTEU president talks about Labor-Management forums; pay raise
  24. DHS launches response plan for cyber attacks
  25. Bill directs agencies to recognize security clearances governmentwide
  26. Participants borrow less from their TSP accounts
  27. Friday Fun Day!
  28. Defense Information Systems Agency rolls out its Rapid Access Computing Environment
  29. New program, ‘Random Hacks of Kindness’ to help with disaster relief
  30. Lawmakers continue to discuss turning unused sick leave into TSP dollars
  31. FEMA director says agency tackles more than just hurricanes
  32. IT habits are changing at Veterans Affairs
  33. Sneak Peak: Teleworking as an H1N1 flu pandemic solution
  34. Big federal IT contractor invests in next-gen solutions
  35. Tuesday Afternoon Federal Newscast
  36. GAO: Parts of USPS Intelligent Mail program running behind schedule
  37. Stories of the Decade: Tom Davis – ‘Mindset has changed markedly’ on procurement
  38. Will House healthcare bill affect the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program?
  39. Stories of the Decade: Watching the creation of the Homeland Security Department
  40. FireEye partners with In-Q-Tel to secure Intelligence Community
  41. How Web 2.0 and Gov 2.0 have changed the business of government
  42. DARPA Network Challenge
  43. NIST reassures agencies on FISMA compliance; do feds know enough about cybersecurity?
  44. How much has marketing in the federal space changed over the past 10 years?
  45. How OPM will make its decision to close government if there’s snow
  46. Nominee to be TSA administrator testifies before Senate
  47. Award nominee discusses SAVEing money when it comes to the national forests
  48. Using Web 2.0 tools the correct way to accomplish your agency mission
  49. USDA’s Donald Sanders discusses employee reorganization

…and from FederalNewsRadio.com

  1. Omnibus includes federal pay raise with locality pay
  2. The federal pay raise explained
  3. BRAC hits traffic right in the Beltway
  4. Tuesday Morning Federal Newscast — feds will not see an increase in locality pay
  5. How not to outlive your retirement funds
  6. Omnibus includes federal pay raise with locality pay – 7:40
  7. Forbes lists the year’s most-hacked software
  8. Five questions managers must ask themselves
  9. The nature of cybercrime is changing
  10. Maryland wants Uncle Sam’s Cyber Command
  11. Fmr. Dir. Springer: OPM not up to task of running public option health program
  12. Linda Springer: OPM not up to task of running public option health program
  13. Blog Bonus: Springer on Berry’s snow plans
  14. Thursday Morning Federal Newscast
  15. Wednesday Morning Federal Newscast
  16. FLEOA to TSA: ‘Don’t shoot the messenger’ in manual kerfuffle
  17. Tax credit expands for homebuyers
  18. Rep. Towns reviews federal workforce benefits legislation
  19. The federal pay raise explained – 8:08
  20. DHS refining cyberattack response plan
  21. Monday Morning Federal Newscast
  22. Sen. Mark Warner: Performance management to be streamlined
  23. Linda Springer: OPM not up to task of running public option program
  24. FAA’s Babbitt: NextGen a new approach to air traffic control
  25. Facebook Developers Garage to make government app-tastic
  26. Majority Leader Hoyer discusses the Omnibus
  27. NARA improves online holiday shopping
  28. Five questions managers must ask themselves – 8:40
  29. OPM’s tips for Open Season
  30. IT weaknesses plague DHS
  31. NIST thinks the eyes have it in biometrics
  32. Programs tested for the Good eHealth Record Seal of Approval
  33. Detected cyberattacks rising at a faster rate
  34. DHS: how to respond to a national cyberattack
  35. Tax credit expands for homebuyers – 8:30
  36. What threat is China?
  37. Cybersecurity overhaul recommended by Internet Security Alliance
  38. Agriculture wins gold for green efforts
  39. Free tool now available for Open Season decision-making
  40. Rep. Jim Moran tackles a possible FEHBP tax
  41. FLEOA to TSA: ‘Don’t shoot the messenger’ in manual kerfuffle – 8:30
  42. FEHBP Open Season workshop on Nov. 30
  43. Disabled feds honored for contributions to national security
  44. What choices remain in FEHBP and how to pick one
  45. How, and why, to harden your smartphone
  46. From TSP to ROTH? New rules hit federal retirees
  47. McAfee finds the world’s riskiest domains
  48. CTO Chopra: technology is the key to opening the government

Written by cdorobek

December 14, 2009 at 10:32 AM

DorobekInsider: More GSA FAS shifts — King to retire, Ghiloni shifts, and FAS SES regional commissioners

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We reported that GSA deputy commissioner Tyree Varnado has announced internally that he will step down on Jan. 3. It ends up he’s not alone. Mary Powers-King, who is acting deputy assistant commissioner for GSA’s Integrated Technology Services and director of GWAC & IT Schedule Programs. Powers-King confirmed that she will retire on Jan. 3.

NextGov’s Gautham Nagesh scored the full announcement.

Powers-King has been a fed for 31 years. She took the post at a time when GWACs and schedule contracts were troubled — and she is widely credited with stabilizing the GSA critical programs..

GSA insiders confirm that Jim Ghiloni, GSA’s Acting Director of the Center for Government-Wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) Programs at GSA, will join the Office of Assisted Acquisition Services working for Mary Davie.

Meanwhile, there are five new Federal Acquisition Service senior executive service regional commissioners… the note from GSA FAS Commissioner Jim Williams:

On behalf of the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) and the respective Regional Administrators, I am pleased to announce the selection of the following FAS Regional Commissioners (RCs):

Sharon A. Wall, New England Region (1);
Paul J. McDermott, Northeast and Caribbean Region (2);
Michael A. Tyllas, Great Lakes Region (5);
Timothy O. Horne, Rocky Mountain Region (8); and,
Michael Gelber, Northwest/Arctic Region (10).

Each appointee has extensive business experience, and knowledge and understanding of FAS programs, customers and stakeholders. I am confident they are the right people to lead these Regions into the future.

Sharon Wall and Tim Horne have been serving as Regional Commissioners of their respective regions for several months. Both bring incredible business and government experience, and I am thrilled that they are able to join us as FAS senior executives.

Many of you know Paul McDermott. As National Director for the Office of Assisted Acquisition Services, Paul oversees and provides guidance to the office’s ten Client Support Centers. Prior to this position, Paul was the Mid-Atlantic Region’s Assistant Regional Administrator for the legacy Federal Technology Service. He also has extensive experience in other federal agencies, including 13 years with DoD.

Michael Tyllas joins FAS from the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Program Support Center (PSC). As director of the Administrative Operations Service, a fee-for-service/shared service center, he oversees the delivery of a range of administrative and technical services to HHS and other government agencies, including financial management, information technology support, and strategic acquisitions. I have no doubt that his unique perspectives and experience will serve FAS and Region 5 well.

Michael Gelber, who will be joining us as the new Northwest Arctic Region RC, is presently Region 5’s Public Buildings Service Deputy Regional Commissioner. His diverse 21-year GSA career includes positions as Region 5’s Deputy Regional Administrator, FAS Assistant Regional Administrator, and Assistant Regional Administrator for the legacy Federal Supply Service. I am excited that Michael is rejoining the FAS leadership team.

I sincerely thank Patrick Donovan, Frank Hoeft, Geraldine Watson and James Hamilton for their outstanding leadership and service to FAS. They successfully lead their respective regional organizations during a time of great change, and I know they will continue to serve as outstanding resources to the new RCs.

Our regional programs are the heart of FAS’ operational success, and I look forward to working with each of these executives to build on our legacy of providing service, innovation, and value to our customers, industry partners, and the American taxpayer.

Jim

Written by cdorobek

December 10, 2009 at 11:04 PM

DorobekInsider: GSA’s Tyree Varnado to retire

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Tyree Varnado, the deputy commission for the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service, told FAS employees that he is retiring from GSA and government services after more than 35 39 years, Federal News Radio has confirmed.

His last day will be Jan. 3.

Varnado is a long time GSA employee — and is well respected within both GSA and the acquisition community. As the DorobekInsider reported first, he served as the acting commissioner for the Federal Acquisition Service when Jim Williams was tapped to serve as the acting administrator.

Since 2002, Varnado has been the Assistant Regional Administrator (ARA) for FAS’ Greater Southwest Region, where he managed the region’s FAS operations. These include the Central Fleet Program, Marketing, and Property Management within the Greater Southwest and Rocky Mountain Regions, as well as several significant and unique programs: the Greater Southwest Acquisition Center, the Southwest Supply Center, the Information Technology Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWAC) Center, and the Fleet Payment Processing Center.

Some resources from Federal News Radio 1500 AM:

* From October 2008, after Varnado became the acting administrator, he was on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris. Hear that conversation here.

* February 3, 2009: Federal News Radio’s Off the Shelf with Larry Allen talks to Varnado.

* January 17, 2009: Federal News Radio: Acquisition oversight to shift to vendors

* January 17, 2009: Federal News Radio: GSA schedules expecting growth spurt

Written by cdorobek

December 10, 2009 at 1:54 PM

DorobekInsider: Lieberman, Collins want Networx delay answers

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Everybody pretty much saw this coming — with so many agencies… is dragging their feet too strong… how about — having failed to transition to the Networx telecommunications contract, Sens. Lieberman and Collins of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee have asked the Office of Management and Budget why… and what they’re doing about it.

Essentially, they are asking for answers to three questions:

1. What action s has OMB taken to assist the transition to Networx?
2. Why have agencies delayed the transition from FTS200 I to Networx?
3. What remedial actions can agency managers take to ensure transition activities are taken before the current contracts expire?

The full letter is posted below.

I mentioned that I got to moderate an AFFIRM pannel billed as Voice of the Customer: GSA, Networx Transition, & Beyond. We had a great group:

Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia, CIO, Interior Department (bio);
Karl Krumbholz, Director, Network Services Programs, GSA Integrated Technology Solutions (bio)
Michael Brown, Executive Director, IT Services Office, Homeland Security Department (bio);
Mike Ponti, Director, Strategic Resources Planning, ASD/NII, Defense Department (bio)
Bhagowalia and Krumbholz focused on the strategic issues of the transition, while Brown and Ponti focused on the tactical issues — what are the challenges to making this happen.

Bhagowalia and Krumbholz gave a lot of information about how the CIO Council and GSA are really working with agencies to urge… push… cajole… encourage agencies to move from FTS 2001 to Networx.

You can see the PowerPoint slides here:

Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller was at the session and you can read and hear his report here:

The General Services Administration is giving agencies four extra months to transition to the Networx telecommunications contract.

GSA has set Aug. 30, 2010 as the new and final drop-dead-date for agencies to hire one of five vendors and begin moving their voice, video and data services from the FTS 2001 contract to Networx.

“We will not make the January or April deadlines so we’ve decided to move them both back to Aug. 30,” says Karl Krumbholz, GSA’s director of the Office of Network Services Program in the Federal Acquisition Service. “Our carriers told us even as of the April deadline was causing them concern over whether or not they could actually transition orders in that length of time. So it’s problematic even August to the extent they would get all the work done.”

Agencies had to tell GSA by January if they needed parallel operations during their transition between the two contracts. And then departments had until April to make their award decisions in order to receive money from GSA for their transition costs.

Here is the story from NextGov:

GSA pushes back Networx deadlines
By Gautham Nagesh 11/19/2009

The General Services Administration has extended two intermediate deadlines for agencies switching to the Networx telecommunications contract, but an observer said it remains unlikely that they will finish the move by June 2011, when services under the previous arrangement will expire.

GSA is giving agencies until August 2010 to pick a Networx vendor and begin changing services, said Karl Krumbholz, director of the network services program at GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service. Originally they had until January 2010 to request funding and until April 2010 to submit their orders. The extension comes in response to a request from the Interagency Management Council steering committee, chaired by Interior Department Chief Information Officer Sonny Bhagowalia.

Read the full story here.
Meanwhile, here is the release from Lieberman and Collins:

LIEBERMAN, COLLINS SAY STRONGER LEADERSHIP NEEDED FOR TELECOMMUNICATIONS SWITCH
Agency Transition Delays Cost Taxpayers $18 Million Per Month

WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Wednesday pushed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to exert stronger leadership in federal agencies’ transitions to new telecommunications services.

The new services, provided by contracts under the General Services Administration’s Networx program, are expected to save the federal government millions of dollars but instead are costing taxpayers money as agencies delay transitioning to the new system. Networx will provide telephone, network and cyber security services to agencies.

A letter to OMB outlining the Senators’ concerns follows:

The Honorable Jeffrey D. Zients
Deputy Director of Management and Chief Performance Officer
Office of Management and Budget
7257′” Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20503

Dear Deputy Director Zients:

The General Services Administration (GSA) telecommunications contracts provide basic telephone, network services, and information technology services to federal agencies. These contracts are very important for ensuring that agencies have the telecommunications abilities to perform their missions and efficiently manage taxpayer dollars. As you are aware, GSA’s existing telecommunications program, known as FTS2001, is the successor to a line of programs that have provided telecommunications to the federal government. FTS2001 is scheduled to expire in June 2010.

In 2007, GSA awarded contracts for a successor program, known as Networx, and has been working with more than 135 agencies to assist the transition of 50 types of services and thousands of voice and data circuits. As potentially the largest telecommunications service s transition ever undertaken by the federal government, this transition has experienced its own challenges. In particular, as of November 2009, GSA reported that nearly 96 percent of the savings projected by this transition have not been realized, and agencies have been slow to take appropriate steps to ensure a smooth transition.

During the previous transition to FTS2001, delays were encountered that resulted in raised telecommunications costs and an estimated savings lost of $74 million. We are concerned that the slow transition to Networx is a repeat of the past. Specifically, every month that agencies delay transitioning to the new program, an estimated $18 million of savings are lost.

We understand GSA has taken a number of steps to assist the transition to Networx and is working to ensure agencies have adequate information on the steps needed to transition before the FTS2001 contracts expire. However, we also believe that strong leadership from the Office of Management and Budget would be useful in speeding the transition.

In addition to the cost-savings, we also believe that agencies should be using Networx to take advantage of newest technologies instead of solely using the same or similar services from their existing contracts. This is of particular concern given the security of federal networks and the opportunities to use new technologies to assist agencies in strengthening their cyber defenses.

We are interested in knowing the specific actions your office has taken and is taking to ensure that federal agency managers have prioritized this very important transition of telecommunication services. To that end, we would appreciate your responses to the following questions:

1. What action s has OMB taken to assist the transition to Networx?
2. Why have agencies delayed the transition from FTS200 I to Networx?
3. What remedial actions can agency managers take to ensure transition activities are taken before the current contracts expire?

We also request your office provide a briefing on Networx to this Committee no later than January 31, 2010.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter and assistance in working with federal agencies during this transition to ensure the effective and efficient use of telecommunication services to perform their missions.

Sincerely,

Joseph I. Lieberman
Chairman

Susan Collins
Ranking Member

Written by cdorobek

December 9, 2009 at 6:24 PM