Transparency to Become Apparent?

In two memoranda (Freedom of Information Act and Transparancy and Open Government) published this Wednesday on, President Barack Obama made it clear that his administration "is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government." In order to obtain this goal, Obama plans on maintaining a Government that is transparent, participatory, and collaborative.

Along these lines, "all agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government." He further clarifies this statement by explaining that agencies should take a proactive approach to disclosing information rather than waiting for specific requests. President Obama also requested that the Attorney General review and reform current FOIA guidelines as well as review outstanding FOIA reports. The Director of the Office of Management and Budget is tasked with creating an Open Government Directive, which would provide guidance for agencies in utilizing technology to improve the public release of information. The Chief Technology Officer, the Director of the OMB, and the General Services Agency Administrator are directed to coordinate recommendations for the initiative by May 21, 2009.

The FOIA, or Freedom of Information Act (Title 5 of the United States Code, § 552), gives any person the right to request federal agency records and information. Agencies are required to disclose requested information except where protected by one of nine exemptions or by one of three special law enforcement exclusions.

Government contractors should expect an increase in transparency to affect them in two specific ways. On one hand, companies will be able to obtain government market information more efficiently. On the other hand, companies will need to increase their own efficiency in order to comply with the new FOIA regulations.

If this all sounds a bit familiar, you might recall President Bush's "Improving Agency Disclosure of Information", Executive Order 13392. Issued on December 14, 2005, the order was built around the statement that "democracy depends upon the participation in public life of a citizenry that is well informed." The order established FOIA Public Liaisons to serve as the public's primary point of contact for information. The order also required agencies to develop FOIA Improvement Plans to ensure that FOIA offices were "citizen-centered" and required the Attorney General to monitor progress of the plans over a 3-year span.

Now that the challenge of government transparency has officially crossed party lines, it will be interesting to see if President Obama is able to make further headway. With over 3,000 active FOIA requests, GovWin will welcome any increase to efficiency. Of course, in true FOIA fashion, I will require 20 business days to process my initial opinion.

Reviewing President Obama’s Inaugural Address for Implications to the Federal Contracting Community

While it's no State of the Union address in terms of gleaning future business opportunities, President Obama's inaugural address does hold some insight into his top priorities moving forward. As I reviewed Obama's speech, there were obvious references to issues which commanded a high profile on his campaign as well – "Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many..." In terms of significance, both these issues are pretty obvious, but focusing Health IT messaging around efficiency and cost-savings or performance assessment solutions around schools and education could impact the course of a presentation or spark a new idea within your organization. So, I identify 8 areas mentioned which could redirect your attention and resources in the coming months or perhaps, reinforce a path your organization has already chosen. Either way, this speech provided an interesting precursor to the budget and policy decisions which are on the horizon.

8 Focus Areas for the Federal Contracting Community (in the order they appear in the speech):

  1. Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) and Telecommunications – President Obama is committed to building "the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together."
  2. Science Education – Throughout the House Democrats American reinvestment legislation, the authors followed President Obama's lead in directing more funding for science, math and engineering programs and projects. On Tuesday, Obama promised to "restore science to its rightful place." Be sure to keep an eye on everything from training teachers to teacher and student scholarships focused on these areas.
  3. Healthcare – We can assume from many previous statements on the state of healthcare in this country that Obama will be implementing major healthcare changes. Possibly referencing Healthcare Information Technology (Health IT), Obama offered to "wield technology's wonders" to improve healthcare. From the tone of the House Democrats proposed stimulus legislation, this will involve Health IT in a big way. As for Obama, he said his goal will be "to raise health care's quality and lower its cost."
  4. Energy Innovation and Independence – Another big campaign topic, a new energy strategy seems to be a talking point in almost every industry in this country. In Obama's words, "We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories." While this is vague on the actual processes and technologies which will drive our future, expect at a minimum for green standards and regulations to accompany any new federal AEC or technology project. Indeed, the sky isn't even the limit with how far this policy could go, but in terms of business opportunities any proposal, program or project which has built in "green" certifications, measurements and cost-savings is likely to be the most successful. As Obama hopes to "roll back the specter of a warming planet," it is possible that more strict environmental regulations for corporations could be in our future as well.
  5. Education Improvements – Obama and the proposed House Democrats legislation reference educational improvement in two ways. First, an educational system which supports both teachers and students ensuring that not only is math and science promoted but all disciplines are stressed to create successful students and qualified adults. In his speech, Obama said "we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age." This means that all levels of education are likely to receive increased attention and funding. From studying the proposed stimulus legislation, I know the House Democrats are proposing (similar to Obama's campaign and transition plans) improvements which entail everything from AEC renovations/repairs to increased student loans/grants to adult education programs.
  6. Performance Review, Accountability and Transparency – Perhaps we should have expected Obama's first round of executive orders to deal with government ethics, accountability and transparency when he tied accountability to the public trust in his first speech as President. He said, "And those of us who manage the public's dollar will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day." Vendors can expect the themes coming from agency leadership to be those of fiscal responsibility, efficient performance and public accountability. And it's quite possible that programs that consistently appeared on OMB's Management Watch List and High-Risk List could be very clear targets once the Obama Administration begins reviewing programs for performance and accountability. The best way to join this effort is to keep your Government point of contact well stocked with performance statistics and cost-savings should a Congressional committee or new appointee ask for more information.
  7. Armed Forces – It was hard to get a feel for Obama's plan around our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan (and the business implications) just from his speech on Tuesday. However, he did offer this message about the two fronts, "we will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan." Regardless of what this means for the equipment and technologies of war, it is likely that Defense spending will still go toward logistics, acquisition management/reform, and troop/veteran support services.
  8. Nuclear Deterrence – As President Obama said, "...we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat." Again, it is difficult to surmise the implications of this phrase. But using what we know about President Obama and the delicate balance of nuclear proliferation, it is likely that all the tools within DoD and the Department of State will impact this work. Regardless of whether this is accomplished through diplomacy or military action, vendors can expect that the intelligence, analysis and recommendations from the military and defense contracting communities will be involved.

As we move into the "first 100 days," there are high expectations and daunting challenges on this new President yet it will become more and more clear the direction of his agenda and priorities as agency leaders are confirmed and his fiscal year 2010 budget begins to take shape.

Base Operating Support Services: A Continuing Need in the Department of the Navy

President Barack Obama was sworn in this week, and with a new administration now in the driver's seat, there is the possibility that some favored Government programs and requirements may be re-examined in the years to come. One type of requirement, however, will almost certainly persevere; the Base Operating Support Services (BOSS) contracts are proving to be a mission critical need for the Department of the Navy. In fact, the Department of Defense's (DoD) Operations & Maintenance (O&M) funding continues to be highly reliable, as evidenced by the FY2009 Defense Authorization Act, which has set-aside $34.8B in O&M funding for the Navy alone, in 2009.

The Department of the Navy introduced its Fleet Response Plan (FRP) in 2003, and the GAO issued a report on February 2008, that examined and assessed the program's progress thus far. The goal of the FRP is to assure that naval forces are trained and ready to deploy as soon as possible. Ideally, the Navy would like to have 3 Carrier Strike groups ready to deploy within 30 days of being activated, and 1 more group deployable within 90 days. In order to do this, it is important for the Navy to ensure that home bases and personnel are maintained at the highest level possible. This is where the BOSS contracts come into play, and why the need for these services continues to be an important need in the Department of the Navy.

The current contract durations range from 5 to 10 years (including option periods) and have values ranging from $4M to more than $400M. These services are required at both CONUS and OCONUS installations, and may include:

  • Management and administration
  • Public safety, supply, housing, facilities support (excluding grounds and janitorial services)
  • Utilities
  • Base support vehicles and equipment
  • Environmental services

GovWin is tracking the following upcoming Naval BOSS contracts:

Program Name Competition Type Status Anticipated Value
Base Operating Support for Kings Bay Naval Base Full and Open Pre-RFP $445M
Regional Base Operating Services for NAS Jacksonville Full and Open Pre-RFP $420M
Base Operating and Support for Facilities in the Washington DC Area Full and Open Pre-RFP $200M
North Sound Base Operations Support Contract Full and Open Forecast Pre-RFP $220M
West Sound Base Operations Support Contract Full and Open Forecast Pre-RFP $406M
Base Operations Services at Djibouti Full and Open Forecast Pre-RFP $150M
Patuxent River Base Operations Full and Open Forecast Pre-RFP $85M
Regional Base Operations for the Naval District Washington Full and Open Pre-RFP $112M

In closing, it remains to be seen what opportunities the New Administration will bring in 2009. But in times such as these when the procurement outlook is in flux, stable and predictable contracts such as Navy BOSS opportunities are a welcome sight to business development and capture management personnel alike. These opportunities allow for long-term, steady work with considerable financial returns and favorable prospects for follow-on work. And if the new administration's stated commitment to support and build the military is an indication of its intentions, BOSS opportunities should prove to be a continuing requirement for the foreseeable future.

The Top Priorities for Health and Human Services under a Tom Daschle Administration?

Future Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tom Daschle, testified at a recent hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). The hearing focused on Senator Daschle's vision for the Department for the Department of Health and Human Services, and what health policy areas would be the central themes of his tenure.

Health Policy Focus:

Disease prevention through the implementation of programs that promote diet and exercise, and combat childhood obesity. Example programs that focus on these issues include:

Medical Care in Rural Areas; several senators cited their concerns for medical care in rural areas because of a shortage of doctors and dentists

Changes at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and a renewed focus on their core mission

Health Information Technology

Senator Daschle reinforced that he would continue HHS's current movement toward a more IT driven healthcare system. His main concerns were that the Health IT systems must be interoperable, this also falls in line with the current economic stimulus plan that is being developed that has an aim of all health records being in an electronic format within 5 years.

What does it mean?

Overall, the hearing reinforced that the modernization efforts underway at HHS should continue under the incoming administration. With an incoming Secretary of HHS with a wide policy focus, a developing Economic stimulus package, and the new administrations focus on "fixing" healthcare, the Department of Health and Human Services, should see more funding toward supporting their myriad mission areas. With this anticipated funding focus, any Federal contractor that is looking to enter or grow their business in the Civilian sector should mark HHS as an area of high potential growth.

DoD’s Use of Competitive Sourcing Coming to an End?

Is competitive sourcing truly coming to an end? Industry, to include posts in this blog, has been speculating for months that this portion of President Bush's Presidential Management Agenda will not survive into the next administration. A recent report by the Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General, intended to analyze pressure on DoD officials from the Office of Management and Budget, also provided insight into the future of the program.

Conducted in response to a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2008, the IG report investigated whether DoD officials received any pressure to conduct competitive sourcing competitions from OMB. Now called commercial services management, the public-private job competitions were included as the second tenet of President Bush's Presidential Management Agenda (PMA). The program has been wildly unpopular with many Democrats and labor organizations, yet was intended to promote assessments of government performance. Although Congress has been unable to pass legislation banning the competitions, the 2008 NDAA included language making it illegal for OMB or the DoD Office of the Secretary to pressure components to conduct a competition.

However, according to the IG report, DoD officials indicated that OMB did not exert undue influence on the Department to conduct public-private competitions. In fact, any pressure felt by department components actually came from the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The Army in particular reported "extreme" pressure for competitions within the Army Material Command and Army Installation Management Command, the only two Army commands to hold competitions in 2008. Navy and Air Force officials indicated that they felt mild pressure, primarily due to budgetary constraints.

Is it surprising that the Office of the Secretary of Defense would promote a presidential management initiative? Not at all. Yet the report also uncovers the current state of competitive sourcing within DoD, and the picture is fairly bleak. According to the report, there are 39 ongoing competitions for approximately 9,000 DoD government positions. Two-thirds of these competitions are with the Navy, while the Army reported no plans for competitive sourcing through 2014. Although the incoming Obama administration has not expressed a formal position on competitive sourcing, the program is widely anticipated to die out 2009. GovWin is currently tracking 25 active DoD public-private competitions, the ultimate fate of which has not yet been determined. Below is a sampling of these opportunities to watch in the coming months:

Air Force



TARP Makeover in the Works

According to a Washington Post article , President-elect Obama's nominee for Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, is already at work on a new approach for the remainder of the funds authorized under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The Treasury Department has spent the first half of the $700B bailout money, but Congress and the incoming administration agree that there isn't much to show for it.

Timothy Geithner has two challenges before him. The first is to come up with a better approach for spending the remaining $350B TARP money. Congress wanted Treasury to use some of the money to provide foreclosure relief to homeowners, but the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP), which was created through the TARP legislation, is criticizing Treasury for failing to use any of the money for that purpose. Geithner is working on a plan that will address this as well as provide aid to municipalities, small business owners, and consumers.

If Geithner wants to avoid the tongue lashing that Treasury Secretary Paulson and Interim head of the Office of Financial Stability Neel Kashkari received, he'll come up with a tighter strategy and monitoring system to oversee how financial firms are actually using the billions of dollars they've received. In a December 2008 report to the COP, Kashkari confirmed that the monitoring strategy was to look at "general metrics" of the "overall economic effect of the dispursed funds." Translation: Give them the money and see if the credit market loosens up. Reports say that Geithner is working on tighter restrictions for financial institutions, including those governing how executives are compensated.

The second thing that Geithner has to do is buff out the scuff marks on his image put there by concerns about his activities as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. According to the article, Geithner was a "leading architect" of the bailout plans for Bear Stearns, AIG, and Citigroup. His confirmation hearing could take place as early as next week, and I expect him to feel a little heat in that area.

Members of Congress seem pleased so far with what he's planning because it aligns with their own concerns. Both Geithner and Obama have gotten good marks from both parties on their plans so far, but I wonder how long it will last. I'm hoping this bipartisan lovefest will continue even after the shine of having a new administration begins to wear off.

President-Elect Obama's 100-Day To-Do List

President-elect Obama will be taking the helm of the country in less than two weeks, and faces an unprecedented laundry list of critical issues that must be addressed quickly. Most presidents have the "luxury" of focusing on one or two major tasks during their first months in office. Obama has a significant to-do list that he must begin tackling immediately.

Stimulus Package: Obama's team is working to gain support for his economic stimulus package. It's unlikely to be on his desk on his first day in office as many originally hoped, but it's obviously the top priority. The package could be as much as $775B, and could include tax cuts for workers and businesses, funding for large infrastructure and public works projects (e.g. highways, broadband infrastructure, health IT, and energy), and assistance for struggling state governments. He's also made it clear that this bill will not have any earmarks.

TARP: Obama must determine what should be done with the remaining $350B of the Troubled Asset Relief Program funds. Treasury Department leadership came under fire for the perceived lack of monitoring of recipient financial institutions' use of TARP funds. Under Obama, we can expect much more scrutiny - not only of the financial institutions, but also of the mid-stream strategy change from purchasing troubled assets to purchasing stock.

Budget: Obama's team will have to begin work quickly on drafting the FY2010 budget. Although some agencies may prepare a full budget, President Bush only required them to prepare a current services budget, which only reflects baseline funding needs. Obama may decide to leave the FY2009 budget - currently a continuing resolution for all but 3 appropriations bills - to Congress to hammer out. Like FY2008, it will likely be an omnibus, which rolls up the remaining 9 appropriations bill into one. The word on the street is that he will try to make some room for some of his priorities, such as tax cuts, environmental issues, and public health in the FY2010 budget. There's not much time between inauguration day and the early February budget deadline, so we'll probably see the the budget sometime in late March or April.

Bush Policies: Obama's team has been reviewing the executive orders and agency rules established under President Bush. I expect to see many of those overturned fairly soon into the new administration.

President-elect Obama certainly faces a situation unlike any we've seen in recent history. He's been praised by both Democrats and Republicans so far on his transition planning and bipartisanship, and hopefully those opinions will carve a quick path to action.

There's a reason that the first 100 days are so critical - it's the new President's shot at showing what he is made of in order to gain the political capital needed to get things done.

Chopra vs. Kundra for Obama CTO?

Normally, a topic like this would be in the federal domain, but, since two of the high-profile names being mentioned hail from the state and local domain, I'll take a shot at it.

During his campaign, President-elect Obama promised to "appoint the nation's first Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to ensure that our government and all its agencies have the right infrastructure, policies and services for the 21st century." The CTO would carry out the administration's agenda to "create a transparent and connected democracy." (Read the full plan to get the details.)

This would, in essence, be a the first federal enterprise-wide IT leader. Two of the state and local names that have been bandied about include Aneesh Chopra, Virginia's secretary of technology, and Vivek Kundra, the District of Columbia's CTO. Both are members of the Obama transition team's Technology, Innovation & Government Reform working group. Chopra has a strong background in health care, and his boss, Gov. Tim Kaine, who was one of Obama's first major campaign supporters will be assuming the chair of the Democratic National Committee. The only other state or local name I've heard mentioned is Colorado's CIO, Michael Locatis. This was based on some speculation that Obama sees Colorado as a hotbed for "green tech" innovation. Locatis does have a role similar to that of the prospective Obama CTO with Gov. Ritter's innovation council.

Having a state or local IT leader assume the CTO role under the Obama administration would (hopefully) result in a major boost of federal attention to federal/state/local IT interconnectedness. The states and localities are major programmatic partners in the areas of health care, homeland security, justice/public safety, and social services. Federal systems must be designed and maintained with those linkages at the forefront of architectural considerations, rather than as an afterthought (as has been the case historically).

Of course, given the fact that the CTO would have to wrangle the disparate federal agencies, it's hard to discount working group member Dan Chenok, who was the right hand man to Jim Flyzik--the closest the federal government ever had to an enterprise IT leader back in the Clinton administration. He was also enjoys a strong reputation among state and local IT leaders for his outreach efforts during that time. The Bush administration toyed with the idea of an enterprise IT leader in Mark Foreman but, for whatever reason, never pulled the trigger.

Here's some additional GovWin coverage on two of Obama's campaign advisors, both of whom are members of the transition working group.

Will Kaine's coattails carry Chopra into the CTO slot? Is Kundra's flashier "Web 2.0" style more to Obama's liking? Is Obama set on appointing an American of Indian extraction (with the related political ties) to the position or does he need a seasoned federal insider like Chenok or his predecessor at OMB, Bruce McConnell? How about the rest of the field? Feel free to post your insights in the comments below.

Social Services: Looking ahead to 2009

As the economy takes a downturn and the demand for human services goes up, states are experiencing larger volumes of paperwork with tighter deadlines, fewer staff, and decreasing budgets. Thus, the modernization of human services will continue to be front and centered in 2009 as states are going to continue to look at increased efficiencies and cost savings with staff reductions in the upcoming year. Yet, the current fiscal conditions appear to be deteriorating the objective to improve human services by cutting millions, in some cases billions, from state-funded programs, which include reductions in social services programs.

Earlier this month, the Treasury Department reported an additional $164.4 billion to the federal budget deficit, bringing the total deficit to $401.6 billion for the first two months of the fiscal year, which began October 1st. Furthermore, it is projected that our nation will be faced with a record budget deficit of $1 trillion or more for the 2009 fiscal year. As a result of what is said to be the worst recession in history, most states are unable to cover expenses and it can take years for them to recover from the current financial crisis. As indicated by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 43 states are facing budget shortfalls for this year and/or next year with virtually all states' deficits anticipated to end up totaling over $100 billion in fiscal year 2010. In fact, some states are facing their biggest deficits in history. The state of California for example, is facing an additional $11 billion shortfall and may be unable to pay its bills come spring 2009. The District of Columbia's Chief Financial Officer is anticipating nearly half a billion budget shortfall for FY 2010 and double-digit unemployment. According to a recent survey conducted by the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), since budget enactment, economic conditions have further deteriorated with more than half of the states reporting budget gaps of $29.7 billion as of December 2008. Additionally, states will experience the first spending decrease since 1983 with a projected 0.1 percent decrease in Fiscal 2009.

Sadly, the biggest cuts are being made to social services programs. On December 1st, the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (DSRS) announced that it was immediately freezing access to a program that provides home- and community-based services for low-income Kansans with disabilities, which could affect hundreds of people. The freeze will be in effect through July 1, 2009. Additionally, the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas is looking at a $1.8 million cut in grants from DSRS. In a two-year budget proposed by Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski at the beginning of the month, "children and education were the apparent winners, and human services the loser," with cuts affecting virtually all human-services programs, including in-home care for 6,500 older and disabled people, cash and job assistance for 2,745 low-income households with children, and child-care subsidies for 3,500 low-income families with employed adults. As indicated by Senate President Peter Courtney, "We need to explore every option and we absolutely must protect those who can't protect themselves - our children, our elderly and those with multiple disabilities." Several other states are also facing similar cuts to their human services programs.

In the upcoming year, the legislative leaders who are championing these efforts will be faced with some tough decisions revolving around resource allocations and prioritization, while state agencies' program and IT staff will have to build a strong business case to justify their IT projects. Moreover, the magnitude of the economic downturn is pushing governors to make decisions between cutting services or raising taxes. Some governors are demanding hiring freezes and some states have already implemented hiring and spending freezes resulting in project delays. Based on conversations with several states' human services program and IT staff, some projects are getting cancelled as departments have decided to build their own solutions in-house, while other projects are put on hold or further delayed due to a lack of funding. Lately, GovWin has been hearing the same comments from human services program offices, such as "this project was frozen due to an expected deficit" or "everyone in the state is scrambling to hold on to what they currently have, let alone ask for additional funds for future initiatives." Looking ahead to 2009, GovWin expects this trend in project "freezes" to continue with greater frequency, especially with governors in several states asking departments to slash their budgets.

Also, with the upswing in unemployment, some states are finding their unemployment insurance funds running dry. In Ohio for example, where the unemployment rate is more than seven percent, the state may need a federal loan for the first time in 26 years to cover unemployment costs. As per GovWin's recent communication with the Chief Information Officer (CIO) from the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS), Division of Information Systems (DIS), the state is likely to face a shortfall of $3 billion in the upcoming year and the drastic spending cuts will affect IT projects. According to the CIO, VDSS has already reduced their IT staff by 35 people and had to let go of 32 contractors. Although the CIO is currently pushing to hire more state FTEs since they are cheaper than contractors, he is fully anticipating more budget cuts in 2009 as well as cuts in program spending or even getting rid of some social services programs altogether.

Yet, despite the fiscal conditions, major child support and child welfare IT system projects, whether it's a replacement or an enhancement, are still in the pipeline, but just being prolonged. As these systems are becoming obsolete, their faulty design and architecture make them difficult to maintain and enhance. Additionally, maintenance complexities inhibit the ability to be responsive to changing requirements. Thus, many states have been planning their modernization efforts for over a year and although some ongoing budget commitments have already been secured to protect projects currently underway, some projects initially planned for 2008 are getting pushed to 2009 or even 2010 and beyond as states are taking their time, utilizing a step-by-step planning approach. Consequently, projects are being phased out into multiple solicitations versus the initial plan for one large Request for Proposal (RFP), which is a trend that GovWin expects to be continued in 2009 and beyond. While a part of the multi-faceted/multi-phased planning approach has to do with budget uncertainties, a major part of it has to do with assuring that risks are manageable and to also avoid project failures or system glitches.

A lot is going to happen in 2009 as the new administration will have to make a lot of momentous decisions. Not only will President-elect Barack Obama inherit the huge state budget deficits faced by our nation, but the tax cuts for example, will be a huge issue that is going to shape the rest of the landscape as his plan for the highly anticipated economic stimulus package, that is yet to be determined, will rely on tax cuts. Even though IT funding has always been an issue for large and risky IT modernization projects, with a new administration in 2009, states have high hopes of replacing their legacy systems and can only remain hopeful for federal dollars to be pushed down to these programs to support IT. The commonwealth of Pennsylvania currently has two feasibility studies underway, one with Symbiosys Solutions, Inc., (GovWin Opp ID 45820) to determine the future technology approach for their child support system, and the other with Public Consulting Group (GovWin Opp ID 46234) to determine how to best move forward with an automated child welfare solution that will meet federal, state and county business needs. Both Symbiosys and PCG will also be responsible for drafting the RFPs for the design and implementation phases (GovWin Opp ID 46191 and GovWin Opp ID 46206). Beyond their high dollar values, both projects represent good opportunities to demonstrate competence in modernizing the legacy systems. For more details on similar opportunities coming down the pipeline, keep an eye for the upcoming GovWin/Output report on the Top 10 Social Services Opportunities of 2009.

New Economic Stimulus Package Could Mean Big Dollars in Your Agency

As President-Elect Obama begins the long task of locating and appointing the sub-Cabinet level leadership for the federal agencies, he is clearly focused on the impact these individuals will have in spending our money. The Bush Administration chooses to deliver an economic stimulus package in the form of rebate checks from the U.S. Treasury to most of our mailboxes. Transition officials and the President-elect himself have implied that federal agencies may see a large portion of the funding in an effort to kick-start the economy. One topic of interest that we've debated around our water cooler is whether President-elect Obama's plan for job creation involves expansion of Government positions and hiring more federal employees or promoting policies which stimulate private sector jobs, or both.

But, I digress.

In a December 19, 2008, GovernmentExecutive article , a mid-level transition official is quoted as saying that President-elect Obama would prefer that his appointees be in place on or around January 20 in order to oversee the spending of federal money. In fact, they will be "supervising the spending of the economic stimulus package" which could "mean a massive infusion of money" in some departments. GovWin is already tracking much of the transition agenda but it will be interesting to see how this financial infusion could affect current programs versus new projects. See this GovWin Blog from last week for more information on transition activities.

We already know that the economy, energy and healthcare top the list of priorities in the new administration. In addition, a greater reliance on technology, fiscal management and overall efficiency are likely to be strong messages for all agency leadership. Agencies that can show tangible results and track the benefits a funding increase could mean to the agency, the economy and the country will make a strong case to get the money. Since the jockeying for the Fiscal Year 2010 budget has already begun, you can bet agency leadership are putting together plans to get immediate stimulus funding as well as sustained long-term budget funding. So, there's still hope or at least blurry dollar signs at the end of the tunnel.

Lastly, one thing to note. Many senior leadership positions will not be confirmed until after the Cabinet-level leaders have completed the process, which means even though the President-elect's team is moving quickly with these names, lower level appointees may be running the show until their supervisors are confirmed.

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