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Is DOD Changing Its Approach to a Common Data System?

A key roadblock for defense contract inventory efforts revolves around the dearth of accurate and reliable data. This hindrance is linked to unresolved issues with implementation of the planned common data system. A review launched in September 2014 aims to identify and develop data collection approaches, sparking questions as to whether the DOD will abandon plans to implement a common data system modelled  after the Army’s.

In November 2011, the DOD released a plan to develop a common technology solution to compile and review its inventory of contracted services. This plan leveraged existing data collection approaches, like the Army’s Contractor Manpower Reporting Application (CMRA). The DOD plan outlined objectives for meeting inventory requirements in both the short and long term. The long range elements of the plan included comprehensive guidance for components for the development, review, and use of the contracting inventories. It also provided for the formation of a working group to develop and implement a common data system for collecting and housing the information required for the inventory, including contractor manpower data. Although the plan did not include a detailed timeline or required resources, DOD expected this data system to be operational and for defense components to be reporting on their service contracts by FY 2016.

Varying requirements across the military departments and agencies have posed a challenge for developing a common data system. In September 2013, DOD fielded a system to support DOD components. Like the ones fielded for the Air Force and Navy, this system was also based on the Army’s CMRA. Each of the four CMRA systems is accessible via the Enterprise wide Contractor Manpower Reporting Application, which provides a common webpage. The four systems, however, are independent of one another with their own interface and separate log-ins. Currently, the department is evaluating business processes and guidance needed to standardize the approach to collecting and using inventory data.

Another factor that officials have called out as a hurdle in these efforts is the lack of dedicated resources and business processes to support the development and implementation. While the Army’s program has seen a rise in funding over the past few years, this has been entirely under operations and maintenance work. In FY 2013, the Army’s CMRA received $0.411 million in operations and maintenance. That figure rose to $0.879 million in FY 2014. The requested funding level for FY 2015 is just over half a percent higher at $0.884 million. The move to a common approach for data collection and reporting would likely require resources for development, modernization, and enhancement. For the Army, that would be either modest amounts to make minor adjustments to align with the rest of the DOD, or it would need to be a sum large enough to support a major overhaul. Results from the DOD’s September 2014 review are expected to be reported in December 2014.

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Originally published in the GovWin FIA Analysts Perspectives Blog. Follow me on Twitter @FIAGovWin.

 

DISA Contract Consolidation: How Will DISN/DoDIN Support Contracts Be Affected?

Last week I posted a brief analysis of contracts supporting the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Defense Enterprise Computing Centers that might be vulnerable to consolidation in the next 2-4 years.  At its recent Forecast to Industry event, DISA officials stated repeatedly that contracts will be consolidated in the years to come as a cost savings measure.  The plain fact is that when sequestration returns in fiscal 2016, it will reduce DISA’s budget by a considerable percentage.  The agency has no choice but to reduce the amount it spends on contractor-provided goods and services.  What the percentage reduction in DISA’s budget will be remains to be seen, but vendors should be prepared to see it drop significantly compared to agency budgets in years past.

Another area of discussion at the DISA Forecast revolved around contracts that support the Defense Information Systems Network, otherwise known as the Department of Defense Information Network, or DoDIN.  Here the impetus to consolidate contracts was less pronounced.  In his comments Jesse Showers, the Vice Director of Network Services at DISA outlined basic requirements for 10 project areas with anticipated budgets over $10 million that will be satisfied using a small number of large contract vehicles.  These vehicles and requirements worked out as follows:

Work on the Operations, Sustainment, Maintenance, and Net Assurance of the DoDIN will be performed by vendors holding GIG Services Management (GSM) – Operations, Engineering, Transition and Implementation, and Projects and Support contracts.

Transport and Bandwidth Services will be provided by vendors holding DISN Access Transport Services (DATS) until these requirements transition to other, undetermined contracts in fiscal years 2015-2016.  Meanwhile, the forthcoming Global Network Services contract(s) will absorb work currently being performed under the JHITS contracts and various task orders awarded to GSA Networx vendors.  Finally, based on what Mr. Showers stated, work being performed under DISN Transmission Services Pacific II (DTS-PII) will fall under the recompete of this contract DISA will conduct in FY 2017.

SATCOM support will continue under the Future Commercial Satellite (FCSA) contract until fiscal 2019.

So, where will future opportunities be found?  Curiously, Mr. Showers’ comments did not focus on contract consolidation, suggesting that work supporting the DISN/DoDIN will be more stable over the next several years.  If this is the case then the information in the following table will prove useful.    

Order/Contract # / Contract Vehicle # / Vendor / Exp. Date / Contract Name
  • VC01 HC102808D2009 CGI Federal 4/30/2018 Encore II Task Order
  • VC08 HC102808D2023 Northrop Grumman  4/30/2018 Encore II Task Order
  • HC102813F0062 GS06F0621Z ECS Federal 2/3/2018 No Data
  • HC102813F0094 GS06F0621Z ECS Federal  1/23/2018 Info Assurance Support
  • HC102813F0089 GS06F0599Z Alliant Enterprise JV 1/16/2018 No Data
  • HC102813F0027 SBD Alliant 11/1/2017 Creech AFB Labor
  • HC102812F0619 ECS Federal 9/16/2017 No Data
  • HC102812F0677 GS06F0603Z AOC Alliant Tech 9/16/2016 No Data
  • TKCT006T76IRU HC101306H0502 TKC Technology 1/30/2016 No Data
  • GS06F0616Z Data Networks 1/15/2016 No Data
  • HC101311C0100 AT&T 11/30/2015 DISN Video Services Global
  • SNVC006H2QIRU HC101305H0669 Communication Decisions-SNVC 11/15/2015 No Data
  • MCIT006GX6IRU DCA20092H0104 Verizon 8/15/2015 Telecom Services IDIQ Task Order
  • MCIT006GX7IRU DCA20092H0104 Verizon 8/15/2015 Telecom Services IDIQ Task Order
  • SPCC40007 HC101304H0530 Sprint 2/27/2015 No Data
  • SPCC40009 HC101304H0530 Sprint 2/27/2015 No Data
  • SPCC40011 HC101304H0530 Sprint 2/27/2015 No Data
  • SPCC40012 HC101304H0530 Sprint 2/27/2015 No Data
  • MCIT40008 DCA20092H0104 Verizon 2/27/2015 Telecom Services IDIQ Task Order
  • MCIT40010 DCA20092H0104 Verizon 2/27/2015 Telecom Services IDIQ Task Order
  • VYVX40002 HC101304H0570 Level 3 1/28/2015 Data Migration
  • VYVX40003 HC101304H0570 Level 3 1/28/2015 Data Migration
  • VYVX40004 HC101304H0570 Level 3 1/28/2015 Data Migration
  • VYVX40005 HC101304H0570 Level 3 1/28/2015 Data Migration
  • VYVX40006 HC101304H0570 Level 3 1/28/2015 Data Migration
  • TWTH40084 HC101304H0528 Time Warner 12/19/2014 No Data
  • TWTH40085 HC101304H0528 Time Warner 12/19/2014 No Data
  • TWTH40086 HC101304H0528 Time Warner 12/19/2014 No Data
  • TWTH40087 HC101304H0528 Time Warner 12/19/2014 No Data
  • TWTH40088 HC101304H0528 Time Warner 12/19/2014 No Data
  • TWTH40089 HC101304H0528 Time Warner 12/19/2014 No Data

 

I’ve listed here all of the support contracts that will be expiring from FY 2014 on.  Unfortunately, the data for many of these efforts is lacking detail, so in some cases I cannot point readers to specific types of work.  What I can do is put on everyone’s radar the contracts, expiration dates, and incumbents so that those seeking to compete for work on the DISN/DoDIN will understand what and who they’re up against.  I suspect a lot of the requirements currently being fulfilled by these vendors will be consolidated into either Global Network Services or the GIG Services Management Contracts, but in case they aren’t this list will help you zero in on potential opportunities in the next few years.

 

DISA Contract Consolidation: Which DECC Support Contracts are the Most Likely Targets?

At its recent Forecast to Industry event, officials from the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) spent a lot of time talking about two things – driving down costs and consolidating contracts.  The latter, it was explained, is being done to achieve the former, with both trends being driven by the meat-cleaver budget cutting approach known as sequestration.  Sequestration is coming to the fore once again as a result of budget planning that is now taking place for fiscal year 2016.  The Department of Defense received a slight reprieve from budgetary pressure in fiscal 2014 and 2015 due to the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013.  Come October 1, 2015, however, sequestration will return with a vengeance.  DISA officials can see the light at the end of the tunnel and they know that light is a fiscal train heading their way.  Therefore, extensive talk of budget cuts and contract consolidation at the industry forecast event is a way of preparing industry for the blows that are about to fall.

Talk of contract consolidation is bound to make vendors nervous, so in today’s post I’ll do my best to identify the contracts supporting DISA’s Defense Enterprise Computing Centers (DECCs) that are most likely to be targeted.  Next week I’ll shift the focus to those supporting the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN).

The available data on DECC support contracts has some holes in it, but I’ll shed light where I can.  By my count, and using data DISA provided in its Exhibit 300 business case for FY 2014, there are currently 53 contracts in place supporting DISA’s DECCs.  These contracts expire in the following timeframes, assuming all of their option years are exercised and assuming the data provided by DISA is accurate.

  • Expiration Year FY 2014 – 4 contracts
  • Expiration Year FY 2015 – 17 contracts
  • Expiration Year FY 2016 – 16 contracts
  • Expiration Year FY 2017 – 10 contracts
  • Expiration Year FY 2018 and Beyond – 6 contracts

For our purposes let’s assume the 43 contracts expiring from FY 2015 to FY 2017 are in the crosshairs for consolidation.  According to Dave Bennett, DISA’s Chief Technology Officer, the contracts that provide support services to the DECCs on a regional basis will be looked at the hardest; the rationale being that as DISA transitions to an enterprise services model, there will be less of a need for location-specific support.  Of the contracts above, here’s how the numbers break out by primary place of performance.

  • Mechanicsburg, PA – 12
  • Chambersburg, PA – 6
  • Oklahoma City, OK – 6
  • Ogden, UT – 4
  • Montgomery, AL – 3
  • St. Louis, MO – 2
  • Columbus, OH – 2
  • Falls Church, VA – 2
  • Other Locations – 12

Clearly, the lion’s share of support work is centered around the DECC located in Mechanicsburg, PA.  I am going to assume based simply on the range of customers using them, that the Mechanicsburg and Ogden DECCs are the largest and closest to the “center.”  They will therefore be subject to the least amount of contract consolidation.  This leaves the greatest possibility of contract consolidation at OKC, Chambersburg, Montgomery, St. Louis, Columbus, Falls Church, and in other locations.  Of these places, I would suggest that OKC and the other locations will see the most contract consolidation.  Presumably, Chambersburg can be left out of the equation because data center operations there were phased out earlier this year.  I suggest OKC because it has the second highest number of support contracts.  I suggest the other locations because these are single-contracts for individual locations, meeting Mr. Bennett’s criteria as “regional” support contracts.  Here is a list of the contracts and vendors working in OKC and in the other locations.

Oklahoma City

  • HC102812F0280 – Global Commerce & Services, Small Business
  • HC102812C0039 – Indigenous Technologies, Small Business, 8a Sole Source
  • HC102811C0115 – KNWEBS, Small Business, 8a Competed
  • HC102812P0027 – KNWEBS, Small, Business, 8a Sole Source
  • HC102812F0030 – IS Technologies, Small Business, 8a Competed
  • HC102812C0084 – KNWEBS, Small Business, 8a Sole Source

Read into this what you’d like, but to me all these sole source awards scream consolidation.  Why?  Because at the forecast event MG Al Lynn, the Senior Procurement Executive at DISA, promised that DISA would compete contracts to drive down costs.  Even Sharon Jones, DISA’s Small Business Representative, stated that contracts would be consolidated.  In other words, small businesses too will feel the pain of consolidation and for my money these sole source awards stick out like a sore thumb.  How about the other locations?

Other Locations

  • HC101307D2009 – Vion, Washington, DC
  • HC102812F0563 – Security Walls, San Antonio, TX
  • HC102811D0102 – Knight Point Systems, Reston, VA
  • HC102813D0004 – Oracle, Redwood City, CA
  • HC102810F2166 – Advanced Systems, Greenwood Village, CO
  • HC102812C0006 – Nova Corporation, Ft. Meade, MD, 8a Sole Source
  • HC102812D0004 – Gem Companies, Denver, CO
  • HC102813D0001 – URS Corporation, Chantilly, VA
  • HC101307D2004 – HP Federal, Bethesda, MD
  • HC102812C0063 – Deloitte, Alexandria, VA

Of these contracts only the one held by Nova Corporation is an 8a sole source award.  The work, however, is also being done at DISA HQ, so it is up in the air.  The contract held by Vion is the Enterprise Storage Solutions contract that is already in the process of being recompeted.  The rest of these contracts are all one offs providing support at locations that are not in close proximity to DISA DECCs.  If we take Mr. Bennett at his word, presumably these contracts too are prime candidates for consolidation.

Readers will please take into consideration the fact that I don’t have any information suggesting these contracts are definitely targeted for consolidation.  Similarly, I have no information suggesting the other contracts not listed here are not also being considered for consolidation.  The safest bet would be to assume that all DECC support contracts will be reviewed.  This said, based on the few comments made so far about consolidation, the contracts listed above best fit the bill.  For this reason they are the ones worth watching the closest in the years to come.

NASA Seeks Industry Guidance on Data Center Solutions

Mid July 2014, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Goddard released a request for information on data center consolidation strategies for near-term, interim, and long-term strategies to address federal mandates for reducing IT footprint and improving energy efficiency.

Although federal agencies they've continued monitoring progress, agencies have not publicly released any recent updates to their data center consolidation plans. As part of the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI), NASA initially reported 79 data centers, closed 14 centers and revised the count to 58 after a physical inventory. The target is to retain 22, and at the end of 2014, NASA is expected to have 16 data centers to close before reaching its goal.

Along with the request for information around the Data Efficiency and Containerization effort, NASA GSFC released details regarding the several approaches under consideration. The first approach targets retrofitting technologies and solutions with a high return on investment (ROI) as short term and interim measures. A number of technologies to address cooling, power, and software management are under consideration. Approaches for cooling include rear door heat exchanger, direct liquid cooling, and application of water-side economizers. For power, NASA is looking at transformer-free uninterruptible power supply (UPS), power distribution units (PDU) that convert power from AC to DC, and fuel cells. Management software technologies being explored include remote power monitoring, power management based on the impact on energy consumption, and server utilization management. The potential for heat reuse applications is also on the table for deliberation. The second approach for data center consolidation targets standalone, containerized solutions for two possible use cases. One use case involves a management information systems computing scenario with power requirement up to 10 kW per rack. The other user case scenario involves high power computing with power requirements up to 30 kW per rack. The third approach aims to establish a long term strategic data center plan leveraging containerized data center solutions with a high return on investment. All of the approach must meet compliance requirements for Federal Data Center Consolidation and Green mandates.

Beyond the efforts at Goddard, NASA's consolidation of Agency and Center-specific data centers will continue through efforts to simplify IT architecture by reducing duplication within the IT footprint. Some of the savings expected to result from these efficiencies will be reinvested to support mission programs and projects. NASA intends to reinvest a portion of these savings to fund critical IT innovations in order to drive further efficiencies and cost savings. Candidate investments to drive efficiencies include standardization of mobile and collaboration capabilities, continued consolidation of IT security tools and computing services, and shifting web services to a cloud platform. Analytics will be one significant area that will benefit from data center improvements. NASA's vision for big data includes improving the capability to extract value and insight from the data it already has. To this end, NASA may explore the potential for creating a new, virtual mission to examine the data it possesses. With the vast volume and variety of data on its systems, NASA will need to overcome storage and accessibility challenges to ensure timely availability of information.

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Originally published in the GovWin FIA Analysts Perspectives Blog. Follow me on Twitter @FIAGovWin .

Air Force Reveals Causes Behind ECSS’s $1B Failure

With ongoing budget uncertainty, the Department of Defense and Congress are looking for ways to trim waste, improve program performance and modernize key aspects of the nation’s military capability. So when there are major program failures like the Air Force’s Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS) Congress wants answers.  The results of an Air Force inquiry into ECSS reveal a program fraught with issues.

When the ECSS cancelation was announced last December, Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, demanded an explanation for the failure in a letter they sent to then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. In March, 2013 the Air Force appointed an Acquisition Incident Review (AIR) Team to respond to Congressional demands for an explanation. Now, nearly a year later, the Air Force has submitted its findings.

Contributing Causes to the ECSS Cancelation

The report, of which only an executive summary has been released publicly, identifies four contributing causes as to why the ECSS project was cancelled. These four contributing causes are:

  • Governance – a confusing and, at times, ineffectual governance structure that varied repeatedly during its existence. Various DoD acquisition methodologies were used and/or combined throughout the program and there lacked coherent leadership guidance and coordination on how to implement these meshed approaches, adding delays, uncertainty and additional effort. The AIR Team says this issue is not yet resolved.
      
  • Tactics, Techniques, and ProceduresECSS “suffered from instances where either the wrong “tool” was selected from the “acquisition toolbox” or the proper tool was selected but misapplied.” The driver for this was an underestimation of how to deal with the size and complexity of the effort, lack of defined requirements and use of an ESI BPA for an effort that required significant development effort. The AIR Team concludes that the Air Force did not understand the magnitude of legacy system data involved so they were not able to effectively communicate requirements to program bidders.
     
  • Difficulty of Change – ECSS attempted to develop a strategic and disruptive technology to improve logistics business processes while concurrently seeking “buy in” from a skeptical user community. The Air Force didn’t effectively manage the proposed changes in systems and processes demanded by the ECSS approach. The issue was made worse by lack of program successes undermined credibility with the field.
      
  • Personnel and Organizational Churn – High turnover (6 PMs in 8 years, 5 PEOs in 6 years, etc.), the use of term positions (vs. permanent positions), and the way the Air Force organizes its acquisitions all led to instability, uncertainty and program churn that put the program at increased risk.

Recently I wrote about how the House version of the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), passed in June, includes provisions related to Air Force ERP systems modernization efforts and specific requirements for root-cause analysis of the ECSS program. It appears that both this AIR Team report and the NDAA provisions are an acknowledgement of the level of scrutiny which major systems modernization efforts will continue to have on Capitol Hill. We’ll see if the House provisions survive to the final NDAA if and when the Senate finalizes their version of the bill and the two sides head to Conference.

Either way, it seems that it will take significant time to work out any modernization approach.  A related recent news article reveals that the Air Force continues to wrestle with how to modernize its logistics systems, even if they have begun to see how not to proceed from lessons learned with ECSS.

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Originally published for Federal Industry Analysis: Analysts Perspectives Blog. Stay ahead of the competition by discovering more about 
GovWin FIA. Follow me on Twitter @GovWinSlye.

 

Full Savings Potential Not Being Realized with PortfolioStat According to GAO

Launched in 2012 by OMB to reduced duplicative IT investments and take more advantage of shared services, the PortfolioStat process has not realized full savings potential according to a recent GAO report.

The PortfolioStat initiative requires 26 agencies to conduct an annual agency-wide IT portfolio review to reduce commodity IT spending and demonstrate how their IT investments align with the agency’s mission and business functions. PortfolioStat covers three categories of commodity IT:

  • Enterprise IT systems, which include e-mail; identity and access management; IT security; web hosting, infrastructure, and content; and collaboration tools. 
  • IT infrastructure, which includes desktop systems, mainframes and servers, mobile devices, and telecommunications. 
  • Business systems, which include financial management, grants-related federal financial assistance, grants-related transfer to state and local governments, and human resources management systems.

OMB established seven agency requirements for fully implementing the PortfolioStat review process:  

  • Designating a lead office with responsibility for implementing the process 
  • Completing a high-level survey of their IT portfolio 
  • Developing a baseline of the number, types, and costs of their commodity IT investments 
  • Holding a face-to-face PortfolioStat session with key stakeholders to agree on actions to address duplication and inefficiencies in their commodity IT investments 
  • Developing final action plans to document these actions 
  • Migrating two commodity IT areas to shared services 
  • Documenting lessons learned

According to GAO’s research, only one in 26 agencies has met all seven of the PortfolioStat requirements, which include developing a commodity IT baseline, completing an action plan, and migrating two services to a shared services model.  The chart below shows the number of requirements met by each of the top IT spending agencies.

Generally, all agencies have designated their CIOs as the lead official, completed portfolio surveys and held PortfolioStat sessions.  Few agencies have completed an action plan, developed a commodity baseline, or migrated two services.

GAO estimates that agencies could save at least $5.8 billion through FY15 by addressing 200 consolidation opportunities the identified.  The chart below shows the estimated cost savings by agency for FY13-FY15 if consolidation initiatives were implemented for the 200 investments:

DOD by far presents the most potential for costs savings with the potential for 26 initiatives at $3.2b-$5.3b in potential savings, followed by DHS with 15 initiatives with $1.4 billion in potential savings.

GAO made six recommendations to OMB to further the success of the PortfolioStat initiative: 

  • Agencies fully disclose limitations their CIOs might have in exercising the authorities and responsibilities 
  • Agencies state what actions have been taken to ensure the completeness of their commodity IT baseline information and identify any limitation with this information 
  • Agencies report on the progress of their two consolidation efforts 
  • OMB disclose the limitations of any data reported on the agencies’ consolidation efforts and associated savings and cost avoidance 
  • Agencies report on efforts to address action plan items as part of future PortfolioStat reporting 
  • Improve transparency of and accountability for PortfolioStat by publicly disclosing planned and actual data consolidation efforts and related cost savings by agency  

GAO also made 58 recommendations to 24 of the 26 departments and agencies in their review. 

PortfolioStat stands to save agencies billions in IT spending if fully and thoroughly implemented.  Additionally, agencies will likely need contractor assistance in consolidating and eliminating duplicative IT investments over the next two years.

 

 

 

 

Oversight Subcommittee and GAO Urge OMB and Agencies to Better Manage IT Investments

A late July House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee hearing on Federal Data Centers and Cloud garnered much press recently, especially in light of GAO’s proclamation that there are actually over 7,000 data centers, more than double original inventory counts.

Although the title of the hearing emphasized federal data center consolidation and cloud usage, testimonies and questions from subcommittee members aimed at addressing overall management and oversight of federal IT initiatives.  The subcommittee heard testimony from David Powner, GAO’s Director of Information Technology Management Issues; Steve VanRoekel, Federal CIO and OMB’s Acting Deputy Director for Management; and David McClure, GSA’s Associate Administrator in the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies.

Powner’s testimony highlighted a number of areas for improvement in IT investment management, but also gave credit to several OMB initiatives that have produced positive results over the last three years.

Positive Results

  • Creation of the IT Dashboard
  • Implementation of TechState Reviews
  • Launch of the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI)
  • Implementation of PortfolioStat Reviews    

Needs Improvement

  • Accuracy and reliability of cost and schedule data in the IT Dashboard
  • Validation of cost savings from TechStat to date
  • Implement TechStat for all investments with moderately-high or high-risk rating.  (Currently only evaluating 33%)
  • Track and report on key performance measures for the FDCCI and improve oversight mechanisms
  • Determine whether agencies are completing key actions related to PortfolioStat and the incorporation of FDCCI into the process.

Powner stated, “Information technology should enable government to better serve the American people. However, according to OMB, despite spending more than $600 billion on IT over the past decade, the federal government has achieved little of the productivity improvements that private industry has realized from IT.”  GAO’s investigation of the IT Dashboard showed 154 investments at risk, totaling $10.4 billion.   

Oversight Subcommittee members agreed and asked pointed questions of those testifying and why the current tools and oversight programs are not producing better results.  Subcommittee Chair Rep. Mica asked Powner where we were now on server utilization.  Powner stated that server utilization is not being monitored now.  Rep. Mica also stated that GSA was setting a poor example for data center consolidation having only closed one data center to date, with over 100 non-core data centers in existence.  Rep. Meadows asked McClure how GSA planned to close 37 data centers in the next two months, when they only managed to close one in the three year existence of the FDCCI program.  

Rep. Mica closed the hearing on a more positive note by telling the panelists that the subcommittee was going to figure out a way to give them all the tools they need to help get the job done.  He also encouraged GAO to keep up the good work of monitoring federal agencies and programs, and bringing issues to light that need attention. 

 

 

 

 

Intel Community Takes Aim at Agile Acquisition

Austerity measures are hitting everywhere in the government, and the Intelligence Community (IC) is no exception. At a recent AFCEA DC event, representatives from the National Security Agency (NSA), National Reconnaissance Organization (NRO), National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) discussed some of the ways their buying habits are changing. Like other areas, the reduced resources are prompting an increased focus within the IC on increasing efficiency and leveraging new technology. As it makes those shifts, the IC is also contending with training needs within the acquisition workforce.

Panelist at the event stressed the importance of revitalizing the partnership with industry. Efforts are being made to advise the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) on its role in sustaining the IC mission. An acquisition executive from NSA commented that increasing signal intelligence threats and rapidly evolving technology are significant challenges. The drive to invest in research and development for the future is countered by swelling cost of sustainment. In an effort to lower those costs, the IC is exploring technologies like cloud utilization, automated testing, and configuration management. They’re also looking at leveraging commercial technologies and services.  
 
The need to improve communication with industry is surfacing in other areas. For example, NGA is exploring how to share information and transfer knowledge from government to industry in the hopes of better leveraging internal research. At NRO, they’re working to address being unable to afford all of the options on some contracts by trying to negotiate the situation with contractors. In some cases, labor costs have been revisited to help meet agency needs.
 
Better Buying Power is being stressed and organizations are finding market research increasingly important. However, Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) is not likely to trend in the IC. The message from the panel was clear: LPTA can be useful in some low complexity, low cost areas. However, the vague descriptions of LPTA are considered not conducive to the need for discriminators and specific technical requirements.
 
As IC organizations assess acquisition needs for recurring technology, they are keeping shared technology requirements in mind. Future investment areas are likely to target cross-IC initiatives. DIA is currently doing a fair amount of cross-IC work with NGA, and they’ve have found that one benefit of the collaboration is an increase in interoperability. While NGA may be issuing fewer contracts, they are pursuing more cross-IC initiatives. In fact, delivering a capability to one area of the IC could be an opportunity for industry to explore similar needs in other organizations.
 
Deltek has been forecasting increased spending as the fiscal year draws to a close. Many of those contracts are expected to be large, complex awards. For the IC, this may present a particular challenge. Furloughs within acquisition workforce pose a bottle neck. Compounding those potential delays, contract officers may either be unfamiliar with agile approaches or lack experience with complex awards.
 
Solicitations tend to reflect a fixed point in time, but IC user requirements are evolving. Agile delivery and incremental deployment of capabilities is more conducive to addressing that evolution. That said, the budget process and policies can be barriers to agility and rapid delivery.
 
Often times, where there is a substantial knowledgebase of experience, there’s often a focus on managing contracts, as opposed to managing programs. This indicates a distinct need for retraining and adjusting incentives that have encouraged the current set of habits. Historically, the Defense Industrial Base has mirrored the IC when it comes to contracting tendencies, so that will mean gradual change going forward as contracting shifts from Completion to Firm Fixed Price and Pay Per Use models.

Agencies Reach 34% of Data Center Consolidation Goals

The 24 agencies participating in the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) have achieved close to 34% of their goals for the number of data center closures. However, despite this progress, it appears that agencies will not hit the 2015 target. On top of that challenge, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has yet to assess agency efforts in terms of cost savings.
 
The consolidation initiative set a target to close 1,253 of the 3,133 federal data centers (roughly 40%). planned data center to be closed. By the end of December 2012, agencies had closed over 400 data centers. Close to another 400 are planned to be closed by the end of September 2013, followed by another 150 before the end of 2015. Despite this progress, it looks as though they’ll fall short of the target goals by over 280 closures.

According to testimony delivered to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, OMB has not identified a consistent and repeatable method for measuring agency savings resulting from data center consolidation efforts. While agency data center consolidation will be reported to OMB as part of PortfolioStat reviews, agencies would provide information through an information resources management strategic plan, an enterprise roadmap, and a data collection channel. This shift removes the previous requirement for agencies to submit consolidation plans and it does not call out cost savings goals. PortfolioStat is expected to result in $2.5 billion in savings through 2015 but it’s unclear whether a new savings goal has been established for FDCCI.
 
Agencies were tasked with a goal of achieving $3 billion in savings through data center consolidation by 2015. When agencies reported expected cost savings in their 2011 consolidation plans, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that collectively agencies expected to save $2.4 billion by 2015, but they noted that the projections were incomplete and unreliable. At that time, many agencies were still completing inventories and identifying additional targets for closure. Since closing facilities are a major driver for the savings associated with these efforts, it’s likely that the full extent of savings will not be realized until after 2015. As of November 2012, savings were not being tracked but thought to be minimal, due to the upfront investments for new facilities and upgraded systems and reinvestment of savings into ongoing consolidation efforts. Currently, a timeframe has not been established for when tracking cost savings may begin.
 
 
Originally published for Federal Idustry Analysis: Analysts Perspectives Blog. Stay ahead of them competition by discovering more about GovWinIQ. Follow me on twitter @FIAGovWin.

PSAP demographics across the United States

Last April, Deltek utilized the Federal Communications Commission’s PSAP Registry to give vendors an overview of public safety answering points (PSAPs) in counties nationwide. Now, we’re using the current registry to detail information on consolidation efforts and other changes that have taken place across the country in the last year.

 

Consolidation projects have been taking place for the last few years as cities and counties work to become more efficient and, ultimately, save more money; however, the total number of PSAPs actually increased by 64 from 2012 to 2013. Still, of the 8,393 PSAPs, only 7,485 act as the primary call-taking location – 908 are considered “orphaned” and are no longer utilized. These orphaned PSAPs will not be included in future filings with the FCC.

 

PSAP Quick Facts 2013

U.S. Population (July 2012 estimate)

313,914,000

Total number of PSAPs

8,393

Average number of individuals served by each PSAP

37,401

State with the most PSAPs

Texas

State with the fewest PSAPs

New Hampshire

Average number of calls to 911/ year (NENA)

240,000,000

Average number of calls to 911/day

657,534

Just as in 2012, Texas has the most PSAPs (667), followed by California (587) and Illinois (422) – all three states also saw slight increases in their total number of PSAPs year to year.

 

New Hampshire still has the fewest PSAPs (5), and Delaware’s nine puts it second from the bottom. Washington, D.C. held that spot in 2012, but an increase from seven to 11 PSAPs now ties the district with Vermont and Hawaii for having the third lowest number.

 

As of April 2013, a total of 719 PSAPs have changed name, state, county or city compared to only 679 that had as of April 2012. The majority of these took place in California, followed distantly by Nebraska – providing further evidence that dispatch centers in many locations are consolidating efforts and working to cover a wider geographical span.

 

The below chart provides a visual representation of PSAP locations by city and county in 2012 and 2013, as well as information on where vendors can find the most opportunities.

 

Analyst’s Take

 

The number of dispatch opportunities in each of the regional areas has remained steady since 2012, with nine solicitations in the works in Los Angeles and Boston, and 12 within 100 miles of Chicago and 21 within 100 miles of New York City. This should provide some hope for vendors that cities and counties are still interested in purchasing dispatching technologies despite the tough economic climate.

 

Dispatch technologies are among the most vital tools that police use, and localities have little choice than to purchase new ones once they reach the end of their life cycles. This trend, along with increasing number of PSAPs, is likely to continue as individuals’ ability to report where and when crimes take place becomes easier. 

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