scathing inspector general (IG) report about the 18F program at the General Services Administration, it seems like perhaps this program needs some retooling.
This report was was covered extensively by FCW and many other federal IT media outlets, in addition to the Washington Post.
18F has been a bit of a punching bag, as they also got negative press for spending a weekend redesigning their logo, and of course the first IG report discussing their finances and their management failures.
What has always bothered me about 18F is how they seemingly have been able to operate outside the constraints that all other IT service providers are forced into. Further, why does following established enterprise architecture, cyber, QA, and IA standards seem like "needless bureaucracy", which seems to be the pervasive attitude of many at 18F, according to internal sources? I understand that many of these developers and engineers have little to no government experience, but doesn't management?
It just seems like you have to either have innovation or be trapped by rules and regulations. Can they not co-exist? It is akin to saying you cannot have both procurement innovation and the FAR? Steve Kelman's piece on his FCW blog countered that argument, discussing share in savings.
Government management can be frustrating, messy, and sometimes redundant. However, it takes effective leadership to produce results. I have no doubt in the talents of 18F, but the IG reports are highlighting important shortcomings in the program that need to be addressed.
Is the IG report seemingly biased and possibly agenda driven? Maybe. Nonetheless, it does not make what they found not true either.
Thursday, January 26, 2017
Cybersecurity will continue to be an important mission, and one that will continue to see more growth. Given the steady stream of data protection contracts that have been awarded recently, small businesses offering these services would be wise to research some of the contracts, the awardees, and the vehicles used to award these contracts to build relationships and develop opportunities.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – DHS awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin, with a potential value of $395 million, for various cybersecurity protection services designed to prevent, detect, contain and eradicate cyberthreats.
General Services Administration (GSA) – GSA continues to expand and modify their existing cadre of procurement vehicles for cyber. According to GSA, in commenting on their recent contract with Adobe:
…The agreement will help agencies "comply with current information security and electronic government policy recommendations and requirements," including the Cybersecurity National Action Plan, the Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan, the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, the Government Paperwork Elimination Act, and the E-Sign Act of 2000, according to GSA…
GSA chose Adobe as a provider of data protection capabilities for federal agencies, via Carahsoft, as an existing GSA Schedule 70 provider, and designated reseller of Adobe offerings.
Other awards of note:
GSA awarded two contracts with a potential total value of $110 million to ManTech, on behalf of DHS, under the GSA Alliant Government-Wide Acquisition Contract vehicle.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services awarded a contract to Iron Vale, for providing a comprehensive cybersecurity support, using GSA’s IT 70 schedule.
DHS awarded Advanced Concepts and Technologies International a $21 million contract through the GSA’s OASIS Small Business Pool.
The U.S. Air Force awarded Engility Holdings a $31 million contract to provide cyber-research, security assessments, and analysis. The Defense Technical Information Center, a centralized agency within the Defense Department, facilitated the contract award.
The U.S. Army awarded Booz Allen Hamilton a $13.2 million contract for cyber security enterprise support via the Army Contracting Command.
Federal agencies will continue to look for opportunities to enhance cybersecurity capabilities, so small businesses should see more prospects to build relationships with these agencies, and other firms in the space.
Big Data Analytics
After two Senate confirmation hearings, President Trump’s nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, clearly sees big data analytics as a path to improving efficiency of government operations.
Rep. Mulvaney stated that the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act), a 2014 law that requires standardized reporting on spending data across the federal government, as a critical tool to eliminating waste.
He also stated in one of the hearings:
…“We’re living in an age of big data, and then here we are as the federal government and we probably have some of the best big data available anywhere, but we can’t use it because no one can share it or read it.”…
Small businesses with data analytic services, which also help support DATA ACT, can perhaps find some interesting opportunities in this sector. Further, helping the government with decision-making analytics about improper payments, and other means of rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse, should also continue proving to be an interesting market for further exploration. These capabilities should create new and expanded opportunities at agencies across the government, and the Pentagon.
As always, being successful in these areas requires good intelligence about how best to add value, and how to solve your customer’s problem. Although modernization should also see significant investment in the Trump Administration, cyber and analytics tools should continue to prove fruitful for new and continuing contracting opportunities.
Friday, January 6, 2017
The legislation in question was Section 838 of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which allowed the Department of Defense to count subcontracts with small businesses against the agency's prime contract goals. This was a huge issue for the small business community, since the provision could have replaced as much as $22 billion in prime contracts with subcontracts.
Section 838 was thankfully stripped from legislation — for now — when President Obama recently signed the 2017 NDAA into law, and replaced it with a call for information from the Pentagon.
The Pentagon will also have to recalculate its annual performance goals for small business contracting after excluding some other types of contracts, such as overseas contracts that typically are not awarded to small businesses.
Small businesses were rightfully worried about this provision, but can breath a sigh of relief, for the time being. Hopefully the Trump Administration will allow for better opportunities for small businesses, and overall improving performance goals for the taxpayer.