Federal Drive interviews — June 14

This is the Federal Drive show blog. Here you can listen to the interviews, find more information about the guests on the show each day and links to additional resources.

Today’s guests:

Debora Plunkettinformation assurance director, National Security Agency

There’s good news and not-so-good news when it comes to the security of the country’s networks and systems. Debora Plunkett, the National Security Agency’s information assurance director, said her agency has a better understanding of the threats than ever before, but the systems are not yet up-to-par when it comes to defending against those threats.

David Simsdebarment and suspension program manager, Interior Department

When contractors lie, cheat or just perform shoddy, agencies can suspend or debar them. Some agencies embrace these fixes. Others don’t use them at all. The Department of Homeland Security canceled 23 contracts because of poor performance in 2010 but did not suspend or debar the contractors. Without doing so, it left other agencies in the dark. But even when agencies do suspend or debar contractors, other agencies seem to fall prey to the same mistakes. The Justice Department has issued 77 contracts in recent years to companies that have been suspended or debarred. David Sims, the Interior Department’s debarment-and-suspension program manager, said, despite the unevenness, both remedies are powerful tools.

READ MORE: Suspension, debarment a ‘business decision’ for agencies

Steven Maserassistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement, Education Department

Each year, contractors sue the government more than 2,000 times. It’s nothing personal, but bid protests are one way of keeping the federal procurement system honest. Steven Maser, a professor of public policy and administration at Willamette University, published an exhaustive study of bid protests. As part of this week’s series, Inside the World’s Biggest Buyer, we asked Maser about the study.

Brian Frielanalyst, Bloomberg Government

Bloomberg Government has just released its top 200 government contractors list. B-Gov Analyst Brian Friel contributed to the rankings and shares his insights.

Study ranks which contractors are doing things right