“Inside the Reporter’s Notebook,” is a bi-weekly dispatch of news and information you may have missed or that slipped through the cracks at conferences, hearings and the like.
This is not a column nor commentary — it’s news tidbits, strongly sourced buzz and other items of interest that have happened or are happening in the federal IT and acquisition communities.
As always, I encourage you to submit ideas, suggestions, and, of course, news to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The General Services Administration awarded a bunch of contracts recently that fell under most people’s radars.
GSA created some buzz back in December with a solicitation for CXO consolidation support. After several rescopings of the work, GSA finally chose Ernst and Young under a $4.6 million deal over three years.
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E&Y will focus mainly on the administrative services and human resources consolidation with some work in the technology and financial management areas.
Industry sources say GSA removed most of the IT and financial management work during the modifications to the RFQ.
“The consolidation is part of GSA’s efforts to better align the agency by cutting redundancies, overhead and increase efficiency,” a GSA spokeswoman said by email.
The agency also is going down a familiar road in hiring IBM to create a new system. GSA hired Big Blue under a five-year, $30.6 million deal to develop internal order management services.
Some in industry question why GSA is again hiring IBM after the company struggled so greatly with the System for Award Management (SAM). The consolidation of procurement systems has been on a better track of late, but it suffered technical and cyber issues over the last year, and has come under criticism from Congress.
Under the contract, IBM will facilitate the transformation of GSA’s Supply business line and streamline the processing of customer orders, a spokeswoman said.
“The result will be a single, cloud-based solution that increases the efficiency of GSA order processing and improved visibility of all transactions for both GSA employees and its varied customer base worldwide,” she said. “Due to significant competition, the contractor offered considerable discounts and the ultimate award resulted in significant savings compared to the independent government estimate.”
GSA anticipates several benefits, including the ability to track and manage supplier performance to ensure delivery requirements are met and a real-time look into order status, receipt, validation, inventory levels and other items to help make better decisions.
The spokeswoman said the contract is part of a multi-year supply transformation initiative to make GSA’s supply chain must be flexible and agile.
GSA awarded a third contract recently that igarnered a lot of interest initially and then many people in the community asked, “What’s the deal?”
Well in June, GSA awarded 15 companies a spot on the performance management and continuous process improvement blanket purchase agreement that could be worth $60 million over five years. GSA initially released the RFP in September 2011 in an effort to help agencies comply with the Government Performance and Results Management Act Modernization Act, signed into law in February 2011.
But over the course of the next year, little happened — leaving many in industry to wonder if GSA decided to change direction.
But with the BPA award in June, vendors will provide an assortment of services including strategic planning and performance management, strategic business analysis, process and performance improvement, communications and change management, and training, certification and recognition.
“Government is in need of process and performance management services more than ever,” said Grant Thornton global public sector managing principal Srikant Sastry in a release. “This vehicle provides an excellent opportunity for federal agencies to get the best practices and insights of the most qualified” companies.
Grant Thornton is joined by a host of small and large businesses in under the BPA including Booz Allen Hamilton, Accenture, Sapient, Plexus Scientific Corp. and many others.
And finally, from the “could it be true?” category. GSA’s Mary Davie, the assistant commissioner for the Office of Integrated Technology Services in the Federal Acquisition Service said recently the transition to the Networx telecommunications contract is 100 percent done.
When asked for more details, a GSA spokeswoman said, “The FTS contract is closed and there are no agencies operating under that contract anymore. All services have been moved under the Networx contract.”
My first reaction was, of course, wow, finally. GSA set and moved final, drop-dead deadlines several times over the last five years, but the arduous move to Networx is complete.
But wait. I’m hearing from industry sources and GSA documents show that as of July 30, at least one agency still is transitioning. The Social Security Administration is working with its four vendors, Verizon, Level-3, CenturyLink and AT&T, to move to the new contract, according to GSA documents.
So what’s the deal?
Once again, the Senate and House are at loggerheads over the value of the E-Government Fund.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal 2014 Financial Services and General Government bill and allocated $20.1 million for the E-Government Fund, $7.75 million more than in 2013 and at President Barack Obama’s request.
The committee also approved $34.8 million for the Federal Citizen Services Fund, about $800,000 more than in 2013 and at the President’s request. The Data Driven
Innovation Fund would receive $6 million, down from the President’s $14 million request.
The House’s version of the General Government bill takes a familiar approach to merge the E-Government Fund and the Federal Citizen Services Fund to create an Information and Engagement Fund for citizens.
Lawmakers allocated $40 million for the new fund, about $14.9 million less than what the President asked for and about $6.5 million less than what the two funds received in 2013 separately.
The House also cut back on the request for the Data Driven Innovation Fund to $5 million.
These differing approaches about the perceived value of the E-Government Fund have been part of an ongoing debate for the last five years between the two bodies of Congress.
In recent memory, the Senate has won the fight to keep the funds separate. The House had the upper hand in the mid-2000s when it cut funding request by 80 percent to 90 percent.
The Senate committee followed the House lead in some ways around the Data-Driven Innovation fund.
The committee didn’t adopt “the proposal to fund the information technology management program under the ‘Data-Driven Innovation’ appropriation and instead recommends funds for that program under the appropriation ‘Integrated, Efficient and Effective Uses of Information Technology,'”the committee wrote in the report on the bill. “The committee reminds the Executive Office of the President that the committee expects to be regularly apprised of how efforts under the Data-Driven Innovation program affect agency and program- specific projects and missions on a case-by-case basis. The committee expects EOP to demonstrate how all changes comply with current law and to notify the committee and relevant authorizing committees as to how any projects or reforms will affect program designs, operations, and outcomes. The committee directs that the Data- Driven Innovation program shall not be a substitute for the committee’s routine consideration of agency needs or evaluation of program operations in accordance with the regular budget and oversight process. Finally, the committee directs the EOP to notify the committee immediately upon any change in an agency spending plan pursuant to any efforts under the Data-Driven Innovation program.”
Lawmakers also approved $8 million for the Integrated, Efficient and Effective Uses of Information Technology (IEEUIT), up from $4.6 million this year. The White House merged the request with the Data Drive Innovation Fund.
“The committee reminds the EOP that the committee expects to be regularly apprised of how governmentwide IT reform efforts affect agency-specific projects and missions on a case-by-case basis,” the report stated.
Both chambers of Congress have passed their version of the bill out of committee and now are waiting for floor action.
I got a call from the Homeland Security Department wanting to provide more clarification about the item in my Reporter’s Notebook from July 12.
In that edition, I say DHS has delayed the award of the continuous monitoring contracts, in part, because of agency hesitation to let DHS inside their networks.
A DHS official confirmed that “21 of 23 civilian CFO Act departments and agencies have signed memorandums of agreements to implement the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program as of July 29.”
There is a lot of excitement and anticipation over the awards, which are now expected in late August, I’m told by sources in and out of DHS.
The technology carousel continues to spin with senior officials at the Energy Department, the Federal Communications Commission, the White House and DHS finding new homes.
Ari Schwartz moved to the White House in mid-July from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. An administration official confirmed Schwartz is the director of cybersecurity, privacy and civil liberties and reports to senior director Andy Ozment.
Schwartz came to NIST in August 2010 to be the senior Internet policy advisor to work on the Internet Policy Task Force.
The Federal Communications Commission will get a new chief information officer. Sources confirmed David Bray will replace Robert Naylor in August.
E Pluribus Unum first reported Bray’s move to the FCC.
Bray is an intelligence analyst at Office of the Director for National Intelligence. He replaces Robert Naylor, who served at FCC’s CIO for just under two years and left in January. Naylor also lasted just over a year as the CIO at the Small Business Administration before resigning abruptly.
And speaking of the SBA, they are looking for a new CIO.
SBA posted the job on USAJobs.gov on July 19.
A government source confirmed current SBA CIO Eric Won is staying with the agency and moving to the program side in the Office of Entrepreneurial Development (OED). Chase Garwood, the deputy SBA CIO, has been leading the office in Won’s absence.
Won, who has been SBA CIO for about a year, but has been on detail to OED for the last several months. He will be OED’s director for performance and program evaluation where he will lead the expanded efforts to apply technology to OED’s delivery of training, counseling and access to resources to small businesses.
On the goings side, the Homeland Security Department is losing a career fed in its cyber division. Mike Smith is retiring after more than 35 years of federal service.
According to Smith’s email to co-workers, obtained by Federal News Radio, he worked for DHS, GSA and the Air Force during his career. He’s worked for more than 10 years at DHS in the National Protection and Programs Directorate on cybersecurity initiatives.
Among his roles in government, Smith was the program manager for both the Information Security Line of Business and Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) initiative as well as deputy director of NPPD’s Federal Network Security Branch.
“I have mixed emotions on separating from the federal community,” Smith wrote. “This is especially more so now than ever before. There is a tremendous amount of exciting work that should be rewarding and fun. Most importantly though, you are a very elite and small group of dedicated professionals executing a critical mission in a very dynamic environment. I know many of you may downplay your role. Don’t be too humble or forget that you are each a piece of a much larger puzzle and without a piece here or there, it’s incomplete, cliché but true.”
Smith has been one of those behind the scenes federal employees who rarely spoke in public and received little external notice for his work to make the government’s networks more secure. But like so many others, he’s leaving with decades of institutional knowledge and understanding of how to get things done.
Smith will move to industry working for Creative Computing Solutions Inc. as a program manager.
Congress is on August recess, so between that and furloughs, there are a handful of events to keep in mind next week.
On Thursday, AFCEA’s Bethesda chapter is holding a mobile technology symposium, which features among several good speakers Deb Gallagher from GSA to talk about identity management and mobile, and Gary Blohm, the director of the Army Architecture Integration Center.
Brocade is holding its annual federal forum on Tuesday featuring Navy CIO Terry Halvorsen, who likely will talk about his new memo on server virtualization.
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