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Half-way Through FY 2015, How Much Are Agencies Spending on Contracts?

It’s April, and that means we are half way through fiscal year (FY) 2015. So I thought I would take a look at the available federal contracting data to see what can we tell so far about how much federal departments have spent on contracts at the mid-point in the year and see what might be in store for us in the second half of FY 2015.

For comparison and context I looked the federal contract obligations reported for each federal agency for FY 2014, quarter by quarter, and then the first two fiscal quarters of FY 2015, which just closed at the end of March. Then, to get what I thought would be a conservative approach to estimating what spending might look like for the remainder of FY 2015 I took 90% of each agency’s total FY 2014 contract spending and subtracted out what agencies have already reported for actual Q1 and Q2 contract spending. In other words, my assumption is that agencies would spend at least 90% of what they did last year. Finally, based on this 90% spending assumption I calculated each agency’s FY 2015 Q1 and Q2 relative percentages of total (90%) estimated obligations.

Contract Obligations Compared

Historically, the twenty top-spending departments accounted for about 98% of all federal contract obligations, so I focused my attention on these departments. In FY 2014, these accounted for $85.9B and $105.2B in total contract obligations for Q1 and Q2 respectively. For comparison, these departments reported $104.7B and $141.7B in contract obligations for Q3 and Q4 respectively for FY 2014. (See table below.)

In FY 2015, these top twenty have reported $89.3B and $34.1B for Q1 and Q2 respectively, although DoD lags in their financial reporting by up to 90 days so Q2 is understated. Still, if these top agencies spend 90% of what they did in all of FY 2014 they will have more than $270B left to obligate in the remaining two quarters of this fiscal year.


Observations

  • A handful of departments have Q1 FY 2015 obligations lower than they did in Q1 of FY 2014 (DoD, USAF, State, DoT, Ed, and Labor). Most have marginally higher obligations year-over-year, although Navy reported over $6B (+40%) more in obligations in Q1 in FY 2015 than last year.
  • More departments appear to be lagging in Q2 FY 2015 compared to Q2 of last year and some of these are fairly large relative proportions. For example, HHS shows a $1B (-24%) decrease in Q2. Similarly, VA has reported a $1.1B (-30%) decrease. Finally, State, GSA, and DOT each have reported about a 50% drop in Q2 FY 2015 obligations from Q2 FY 2014. Of course, given the DoD’s three-month reporting delay we will not know the contracting rates among those departments until this summer.
  • Taken together, the four defense branches in Q1 FY 2015 have reported $3B more in obligations than they reported in Q1 of FY 2014, although the DoD and Air Force have reported lower levels year-over-year.  

A graphical representation of the relative proportions of each department’s contract spending gives a sense of seasonality and/or changes from year to year. Due to the sheer number of departments I have split these into Defense and Civilian segments. This further highlights the yearly changes for Navy, HHS, VA, State, GSA, and DOT. (See charts below.)


 


 

This kind of macro-level analysis is useful in getting a general sense of quarterly and yearly patterns across the departments. Of course, the remaining FY 2015 obligation estimation depends on its main 90% assumption. Last year, this approach pointed to roughly $285B in combined FY 2014 Q3 and Q4 obligations among the top twenty departments. A year later, the final FY 2014 Q3 and Q4 data shows that actual obligations came in at $246.4B, so at first glance it appears that my 90% assumption was a bit optimistic. However, the difference turns out to be a matter of timing rather than magnitude. The final FY 2014 Q1 and Q2 obligations given above come in at $69B higher than what agencies reported at this time last year, reflecting revisions due to lagging obligation data being added later in the year. So the numbers effectively washed out once the dust settled. Unfortunately, there is no reliable way of predicting how consistently agencies will report their contract spending from year to year.

As most federal business development people will attest, understanding your agency’s spending patterns goes a long way to being able to successfully work with them to get contracts awarded as well as develop your yearly business plan. 

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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.

 

State and USAID FY 2016 Discretionary and IT Budget Request Snapshot

Last month the White House released its fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget request and most federal departments and agencies saw notable increases in their overall discretionary and information technology (IT) budgets. The Department of State and the U.S. Agency for of International Development (USAID) were no exception.

Total Discretionary Funding

The Department of State and the USAID are slated to receive $43.2B in base discretionary funding for FY 2016, which is $6.2B (+16%) higher than FY 2015. The budget requests an additional $7.0B in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding.

Discretionary funding highlights include:

  • $3.5B to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and respond to the crisis in Syria, bolster regional security, and provide for related humanitarian needs
  • $1B to address the root causes of migration from Central America, including the migration of unaccompanied children
  • $5.4B for international organizations and peacekeeping missions to share global security responsibilities with other nations and respond to new peacekeeping requirements
  • $4.8B to support security requirements and overseas infrastructure to support the people, infrastructure, and programs that enable U.S. operations and relations with foreign governments
  • $190.5M for the Global Development Lab and the Bureau of Policy, Planning, and Learning at USAID to develop solutions and accelerate the transformation of U.S. development efforts

State and USAID Total IT and New Development Budgets

The State Department and USAID seek $1.6B (+15.4%) and $165.5M (+15.1%) respectively for FY 2016 IT. However, both agencies continue to focus their budgets on steady state or operations and maintenance (O&M) funding categories over Development/Modernization/Enhancement (DME) efforts. State’s $140.4M of total agency DME funds increases $3M from FY 2015, but these DME funds account for about 9% of the total FY 2016 IT budget, which is pretty consistent with the previous two years. USAID’s DME is $28.5M which is 17% of the total proposed budget for FY 2016. This proportion has declined from 22% and 20% in FY 2014 and FY 2015 respectively. (See table below.)


 

Noteworthy IT Programs

Looking at the specifics of both State’s and USAID’s IT investments and initiatives gives some deeper understanding.  Here are some initiatives that stand out among others due to relative size, budget growth, and/or proportion of new development spending.

IT Funding Highlights

  • Bureau IT Support – At $230M (+13.1%), this investment encompasses centrally provided shared IT support services such as desktop services; telecomm, wireless & data services; peripherals; software; and any other IT infrastructure costs incurred by the bureaus.
  • CA Enterprise Management Services – Receiving $145M (+106%), this initiative consists of strategic planning and portfolio management, security, configuration control, quality management, training, deployment and communications for the CST portfolio as a whole.
  • CA Enterprise Operations – Increasing to 126.3M (+44%) for FY 2016, this investment consists of operations and maintenance, data center migration, applications and database services and service desk.
  • Legacy Consular Systems – Receiving $87.3M (+63%), this initiative supports a broad range of services systems, including Visa, ACS, Passport, Web, BI, AMS, CLASS, Fraud.
  • Steady State IT Infrastructure & Technology Modernization – USAID slates $57.4M (+2.5%) for its enterprise-wide IT infrastructure, communications, etc. 12% of this is DME funding.

New Development Funding

  • State – the two IT initiatives with the largest DME budgets are the Foreign Assistance Dashboard ($1.5M in DME, 100% of budget) and the ECA Program Management and Outreach System ($1.4M in DME, 11% of budget.)
  • USAID – Two programs with the largest DME budget are the Development Information Solution (DIS) portfolio management system ($8M in DME, 93% of budget) and the Steady State IT Infrastructure & Technology Modernization Program ($7.1M in DME, 12% of budget.)

After seeing its total IT budget remain flat at $1.4B from FY 2014 to FY 2015 the State Department IT budget for FY 2016 has jumped nearly $224M to over $1.6B. Similarly, USAID’s IT budget fell 4% from FY 2014 to FY 2015 but sees a $21.8M (+15%) jump in FY 2016 to regain ground. As noted above, overall DME spending at both State and USAID tend to run below those of most other federal agencies, so competition for O&M work on established programs may be fierce and challenging to penetrate. 

FY 2016 Budget Request – Information Technology Highlights

Information Technology (IT) budgets are UP for fiscal year (FY) 2016 nearly across the board for major federal departments. The Obama Administration released its FY 2016 Budget request Monday morning, and around 6 p.m. the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) posted details on the Information Technology budget proposal, revealing a return to year-over-year budget increases for both the Defense and Civilian top-line numbers and net increases for most Executive Branch departments and agencies.

In a previous entry we looked at the overall FY 2016 discretionary budget highlights across the top agencies. Here, we will focus on IT.

According to the IT budget request for FY 2016, the overall IT budget for Executive Branch departments and agencies comes in at $86.3B, up 2.3% from the FY 2015 enacted level and 5.5% higher than the $81.7B spent in FY 2014. However, factoring out grants to state and local governments, the total IT budget for FY 2016 comes in at just over $79B, an increase of 4% from FY 2015, which was effectively flat from FY 2014. (See table below.)


 

AGENCY HIGHLIGHTS

In addition to the many budget increases for the next fiscal year, many agencies are also allocating greater funds to Development, Modernization, Enhancement (DME) efforts over Operations and Maintenance (O&M). These and other funding observations are included in the following agency highlights.

Department of Defense

The DoD is allocated a total of $37.3B in IT funds for FY 2016, a 3% increase over the FY 2015 enacted level of $36.3B. The total funds are split between classified and non-classified areas, $6.6B and $30.7B respectively. If enacted, this would mean a 2% increase in classified DOD IT and a 9% increase in non-classified DOD IT.

OMB released only top-line IT budget numbers for DoD and promised detailed updates in early March. This is fairly common practice each budget cycle, but shrouds DoD IT spending longer than any other department. Until then, we pursued what IT-related spending information could be gleaned from other DoD budget documentation.


Air Force

  • $1.8B in Procurement funds for Electronics and Telecom Equipment, an increase of more than $400M (30%) over FY 2015
  • $2.6B in Space Procurement funding, which budget materials note that FY 2016 marks the first year that such procurement are broken out.
  • $2.4B in Science and Technology RDT&E funds, an increase of $96M from FY 2015
  • $287M in Procurement funds for the Strategic Command And Control program, up from $140M (+105%) in FY 2015
  • $103.7M for AFNET, up 15% from the $90.5M level in FY 2015
  • $31.4M in Procurement funds for “General Information Technology,” down from $43M in FY 2015.
  • $9.6M for Integrated Strategic Planning & Analysis Network (ISPAN), an increase of $500K (6%) from the FY 2015 level

Army

  • $3.5B in Procurement funding for Communications and Electronics Equipment
  • $783M in O&M funding for upgrades to the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T)
  • $260M in Procurement funding for the Distributed Common Ground System-Army
  • $152.2M in Procurement funding for Automated Data Processing Equipment
  • $103M in Procurement funding for the Installation Information Infrastructure Modernization (IMOD) Program
  • $72.2M in Procurement funding for the Communications Security Program
  • $43.5M in Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation funding related to WIN-T for developing Network Operations software to meet the Army Network Convergence goals
  • $22M in Procurement funding for the Unified Command Suite

Navy

  • $17.9B in R&D funding, up nearly 12% from the FY 2015 level of $16.0B
  • $55M in R&D for Cyber (ORT/TFCA only), up from $3M in FY 2015
  • $2.4B in Navy Procurement funds for Communications and Electronics Equipment, up $158M (7%) from FY 2015
  • $279M in Procurement funds for CANES, down from $336M in FY 2015
  • $31.8M For the Distributed Common Ground System-Navy (DCGS-N), up from $23.7M in FY 2015
  • $135.7M for the Information Systems Security Program (ISSP), a 26% increase over the FY 2015 level of $108M
  • $740M in Marine Corps Procurement funds for Communications and Electronics Equipment, including $67M to support NGEN. The total is up from $570M in FY 2015

Defense-Wide

  • $12.3B in funding for the Science and Technology program for future technologies
  • $7.4B in funding for C4I systems
  • $7.1B for space-based systems
  • $800M for the MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aircraft System
  • $84.4M in Procurement funding for equipment for the Joint Information Environment, a 539% increase over the $13.3M invested in FY 2015
  • $57.7M in Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation funding for SOF Advanced Technology Development
  • $11.7M in Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation funding for Insider Threat detection

Agriculture

The USDA’s FY 2016 budget request for IT is $1.95B, 1.56% higher than the estimated level of $1.92B in Fiscal Year 2015.

Funding highlights include: 

  • $431M in the USDA’s Working Capital Fund, with money in this account used to finance central services in the USDA, including automated data processing systems for payroll, personnel, and related services; telecommunications services; and information technology systems
  • $66.3M in funding for information technology related to Farm Service Agency IT programs, including work related to the Modernize and Innovate the Delivery of Agricultural Systems (MIDAS) program
  • $29.5M in DME funding for the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Delivery Streamline Initiative (CDSI)
  • $29M in DME funding for the Office of the Chief Information Officer’s Optimized Computing Environment (OCE)
  • $28M for the USDA’s cyber security requirements and programs
  • $7.6M to fund a USDA Digital Services team that will focus on transforming the department's digital services in line with the White House’s Smarter IT Delivery initiative
  • $4.25M for information technology infrastructure at the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service
  • $3M to implement the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, including changes in business processes, work force, and/or information technology assets
  • $1M for the Common Computing Environment, a shared information technology platform for the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Rural Development

Commerce

The president’s budget request provides $2333.2M in funding for the Commerce Department’s information technology, an 8% increase over FY 2015 enacted levels. 62% of FY 2016 funds are dedicated to operations and maintenance, a 3% increase over the FY 2015 enacted levels. Funding to support development, modernization, and enhancement efforts totals over $880M for FY 2016, rising above the amount enacted in FY 2015 by 38%.

Funding highlights include:

  • The top ten investments by requested funding for FY 2016 combine to make up just over 57% of Commerce’s entire IT budget.
  • Includes $339.7M in new investments for FY 2016.
  • Funding for upgrades is set to receive $5.2M for FY 2016, level with the enacted amounts for FY 2015.
  • Mission delivery and management support efforts request an additional $84M, bringing the total for FY 2016 to $1,415.5M and marking a 9% increase over the enacted level from FY 2015.
  • Commerce aims to provide $798.3M in funding for infrastructure, office automation, and telecommunications, an increase of 8% over levels from FY 2015.
  • Increasing 27% over the enacted level for FY 2015, Commerce has identified $116.2M for efforts related to enterprise architecture, capital planning, and CIO functions.

Energy

The president’s budget request provides $1,469.1M in funding for the Energy Department’s information technology, a 1% drop from FY 2015 enacted levels. 92% of FY 2016 funds are dedicated to operations and maintenance, a 1% increase over the FY 2015 enacted levels. Funding to support development, modernization, and enhancement efforts decline below the amount enacted in FY 2015 by $25.M, marking a drop of 18%.

Funding highlights include:

  • With details for over 700 investments for FY 2016, the top ten investments by requested funding combine to make up around 11% of Energy’s IT budget.
  • Includes $72.7M in new investments for FY 2016.
  • Consolidation activities are set to receive $43.6M.
  • Funding for upgrades is set to receive $3.5M for FY 2016, level with the enacted amounts for FY 2015.
  • Energy is targeting $663.8M in funds for mission delivery and management support, marking a drop of 2% from FY 2015.
  • Maintaining the enacted funding level from FY 2015, Energy aims to provide $747.6M for infrastructure, office automation, and telecommunications.
  • Increasing 7% over the level for FY 2015, Energy is looking to provide $73.5M for efforts related to enterprise architecture, capital planning, and CIO functions.

Health and Human Services

The president’s budget request provides $11.4B in total IT funding to HHS, a 10% decrease over FY 2015 enacted levels. Grants account for $6.4B of the total IT budget.  HHS’ proposed IT budget without grants totals $4.9B which is a 2% decrease over FY 2015.

Funding highlights include (excludes grants):

  • DME accounts for $1.1B or 22% of the total IT budget, a 14% decrease from FY 2015 enacted levels
  • 545 total investments of which the top 10 represent 37% of the total IT budget at $1.8B
  • $149M slated for cloud investments, a 5.5% decrease from FY 2015
  • Notable changes in agency IT budgets include CMS $2.3B down 3%, NIH $781M down 2.4%, FDA $584 up 1%, and CDC $324M down 6.5%
  • Notable program changes include CMS IT Infrastructure – Ongoing down $95M, CMS Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM)down $60M, and CMS Beneficiary e-Services up $22M

Homeland Security

The budget request provides $6.2B for IT investments at DHS for FY 2016, a 4% increase over the FY 2015 enacted level of $5.9B.

Funding highlights include:

  • DME accounts for $1.0B or 16% of the total IT budget, a $76M increase from FY 2015 enacted levels
  • $150.3M in DME funds for USCIS Transformation, which makes up 83% of the total FY 2016 funding of $180.9M
  • $463.9M for the National Cybersecurity & Protection System (NCPS), including $95.8M in DME funds, 21% of the total
  • $102.7M for the Continuous Diagnostics & Mitigation (CDM) program, of which $91.4, or 89%, are DME funds
  • $88.5M in DME funds for the CBP Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) Systems Program, which represents 42% of the overall $209.3M for the year
  • $80.3M in funds for the NPPD Next Generation Networks Priority Services (NGN-PS), 100% of which is DME

Interior

The president’s budget request provides $1,098.5M in funding for the Department of the Interior’s information technology, a drop of less than one percent from FY 2015 enacted levels. 92% of FY 2016 funds provide operations and maintenance, a 2% increase over the FY 2015 enacted levels to $1014.2M. At less than $85M for FY 2016, support for development, modernization, and enhancement efforts drops 20% below the amount enacted in FY 2015.

Funding highlights include:

  • The top five investments by requested funding for FY 2016 combine to make up over 61% of Interior’s entire IT budget.
  • New investments receive $5.6M for FY 2016.
  • Requesting $402.1M for mission delivery and management support efforts, Interior looks to slightly raise the funding for these investments bumping the total up by 1% over the FY 2015 levels.
  • Interior’s request of $657.6M for investments targeting infrastructure, office automation, and telecommunications marks a 1% decrease from FY 2015 enacted levels.
  • Dropping 13% from the level enacted for FY 2015, Interior has identified $38.3M for investments related to enterprise architecture, capital planning, and CIO functions.

NASA

The president’s budget request provides $1,390.4M in funding for NASA’s information technology, a 2% decrease from FY 2015 enacted levels. 95% of FY 2016 funds are dedicated to operations and maintenance, maintaining the FY 2015 enacted levels at $1,323.1M. Funding to support development, modernization, and enhancement efforts takes a hit for FY 2016, dropping 27% below the amount enacted in FY 2015 to $67.3M.

Funding highlights include:

  • The top five investments by requested funding for FY 2016 combine to make up nearly 59% of NASA’s entire IT budget.
  • NASA is looking to maintain its spending for mission delivery and management support, requesting $942.8M for FY2016.
  • $445.2M for Infrastructure, office automation, and telecommunications, a 2% drop from FY 2015 levels.
  • Maintaining the funding level enacted for FY 2015, FY 2016 would see $2.5M for efforts related to enterprise architecture, capital planning, and CIO functions.

Justice

The president’s budget request provides $2732.3M in funding for the Justice Department’s information technology, a 4% increase over FY 2015 enacted levels. Topping $2,250M for FY 2016, 83% of these funds are dedicated to operations and maintenance, marking a 5% increase over the FY 2015 enacted levels. At $476.1M for FY 2016, funding to support development, modernization, and enhancement efforts stay fairly level with the amount enacted in FY 2015, dropping by only 1%.

Funding highlights include:

  • The top ten investments by requested funding for FY 2016 combine to make up nearly 37% of Justice’s entire IT budget.
  • Includes $110.6M in new investments for FY 2016.
  • $478.6M is requested for system upgrades, an increase of around $5.5M over enacted levels for FY 2015.
  • Consolidation activities are set to receive $237.3M.
  • Dropping by 2% from the enacted FY 2015 levels, the request for mission delivery and management support activities totals $1,138.0M for FY 2016.
  • Justice aims to provide $1,413.8M in FY 2016 for infrastructure, office automation, and telecommunications, marking an increase of 10% from the level enacted for FY 2015.
  • Rising 23% above the FY 2015 level, Justice has identified $152.2M for efforts related to enterprise architecture, capital planning, and CIO functions.

Social Security Administration

SSA sees a 7% budget increase for FY 2016, growing to $1.7B from $1.6B in FY 2015.

Funding highlights include

  • At SSA DME accounts $705M or 42% of the total FY 2016 IT budget
  • $278.4M is allocated for Non-Major Infrastructure IT investments, of which 275.5M (99%) is DME
  • $55.0M in DME funds for the Disability Case Processing System (DCPS)      , which accounts for 92% of the total $60M budget
  • $68.5M slated for Non-Major IT Security Initiatives, 62% of which ($42.7M) is new development funds
  • $29.1M in new DME funding for the Intelligent Disability program, which makes up 84% of the $34.8M total

State

The State department receives $1.6B in IT funds for FY 2016, up 15% with an increase of $218M from FY 2015.

Funding highlights include

  • $140.4M of total agency DME funds account for 9% of the total FY 2016 IT budget and increases $3M from FY 2015
  • $28.5M for Consular Systems Modernization, of which $18.8M (66%) is DME funds
  • $13.3 in funding for the Architecture Services program, 100%        of which is DME
  • $11.0M in DME funding for Bureau IT Support, which accounts for 5% of the overall $230.3M allocated for FY 2016
  • $10.9M for DME efforts around the Global Foreign Affairs Compensation System (GFACS), or 35% of the total $30.8M in funds
  • $43.3M in total funding for the Integrated Personnel Management System (IPMS), $10.1M (23%) of which is DME
  • $31.6M in total funding for the Earnings Redesign initiative, $27.6M (88%) of which is DME

Transportation

The DOT’s FY 2016 budget request for IT is $3.3B, 6.4% higher than the estimated level of $3.1B in Fiscal Year 2015.

Funding highlights include:

  • $245M in DME funding for the FAA’s Terminal Automation Modernization and Replacement Program (TAMR-P)
  • $238M in DME funding for the FAA’s Data Communications NextGen Support (DataComm) program
  • $215M for the FAA’s Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system
  • $200M for the FAA’s Facilities & Equipment account to finance major capital investments in FAA power systems, air route traffic control centers, air traffic control towers, terminal radar approach control facilities, and navigation and landing equipment
  • $3M to implement the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, including changes in business processes, work force, and/or information technology assets
  • $60M for NextGen operations planning activities at the FAA
  • $42.6M in funding through September 30, 2018 for information management related to Motor Carrier Safety Operations and Programs
  • $20M for FMCSA’s commercial vehicle information systems and networks deployment program and Information Technology Deployment (ITD) program
  • $9M to fund a DOT Digital Services team that will focus on transforming the department's digital services in line with the White House’s Smarter IT Delivery initiative
  • $8M for cyber security initiatives, including necessary upgrades to the DOT’s wide area network and information technology infrastructure
  • $4M for operation and maintenance of the FTA’s National Transit Database

Treasury

The president’s budget request provides $4.5B in total IT funding to Treasury, a 19% increase over FY 2015 enacted levels.    

Funding highlights include:

  • DME accounts for $933M or 21% of the total IT budget, a 4% increase from FY 2015 enacted levels
  • 280 total investments of which the top 10 represent 56% of the total IT budget at $2.5B
  • $330M slated for cloud investments, a 9.6% increase from FY 2015
  • Notable changes in agency IT budgets include IRS $3.2B up 30%, Fiscal Service $697 down 1%, and Departmental Offices $255M down 5%
  • Notable program changes include IRS Main Frames and Servers Services and Support (MSSS) up $219M, IRS Enterprise Services - PAC 9U up $204M, and IRS Applications Development Program Support (ADPS) up $60M

Veterans Affairs

The president’s budget request provides $4.4B in total IT funding to VA, a 5% increase over FY 2015 enacted levels.

Funding highlights include:

  • DME accounts for $639M or 15% of the total IT budget, a 11% decrease from FY 2015 enacted levels
  • 31 total investments of which the top 10 represent 92% of the total IT budget at $4B
  • $49M slated for cloud investments, a 32% decrease from FY 2015
  • Notable program changes include Benefits 21st Century Paperless Delivery of Veterans Benefits up $116M, Medical 21st Century Development Core down $81M, and Interagency 21st Century One Vet up $75M

We will be publishing our complete analysis of the FY 2016 budget request – including IT investments and initiatives – in the weeks to come.

Fellow GovWin Federal Industry Analysis (FIA) analysts Kyra Fussell, Deniece Peterson, Angela Petty and Alex Rossino contributed to this entry.

 

GAO Advocates More Analysis Prior to Pass-Through Contract Awards

A recently released study by GAO recommends that contracting officers perform more due diligence prior to awarding pass-through contracts, contracts where more than 70% of the total cost of the work to be performed is slated for subcontracts.

Congress is concerned that the government could be overpaying for contracts where work is predominately accomplished by lower-tier subs.  Section 802 of the FY 2013 NDAA calls for DOD, State and USAID contracting officers to conduct additional analysis before awarding pass-through contracts.  Additionally, GAO is tasked with evaluating progress in implementing the new guidelines.  

The new Section 802 requirements state that the contracting officer must do the following when evaluating the award of a pass-through contract:  

  • Consider the availability of alternative contract vehicles and the feasibility of contracting directly with a subcontractor or subcontractors that will perform the bulk of the work  
  • Make a writing determination that the contracting approach selected is in the best interest of the government  
  • Document the basis for such determination

GAO’s analysis of Section 802 implementation at DOD, State and USAID showed that USAID had issued directives and updated contracting checklists restating Section 802 requirements.  GAO’s research also showed that State issued a procurement bulletin restating Section 802 requirements, but neither agency has taken any further implementation action.  DOD is waiting for March 2015 FAR revisions before determining whether or not they need to take any action.

GAO recommends that all three agencies take the following actions:  

  • Issue guidance to help contracting officers perform the additional steps required by Section 802 
  • Revise management review processes and guidance to verify implementation or Section 802 requirements

Further implementation of Section 802 requirements will cause more scrutiny of pass-through contracts, jeopardizing awards to prime contractors who are not performing 30% or more of the total cost of work.  Primes should be diligent regarding their strategy and work breakdown when it comes to subcontracting and lower-tier contracting arrangements. 

 

Congress Passes FY 2015 Funding – Civilian Highlights, Part 1

The U.S. Congress passed an omnibus funding bill for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2015 that includes $1.1 trillion in total in discretionary federal funds, roughly half of which goes to federal civilian departments and agencies.

Federal News Radio reported that the Senate voted 56-40 late Saturday for the bill that will fund most agencies through September, the end of FY 2015. The House of Representatives had voted two days earlier on the spending measure, passing it 219-206.

The final bill removes concerns over the possibility of government shutdowns for the rest of the fiscal year and address funding for each of the agencies covered under the twelve individual appropriations bills that traditionally make their way through Congress. The only exception in full-year funding is the Department of Homeland Security, which is funded by at continuing resolution (CR) levels through Feb. 27, 2015, due to congressional concerns over White House immigration plans. Future funding will be taken up by the next Congress.


 

Department Highlights

Energy

Department of Energy funding of $27.9B supports programs across the department’s five primary mission areas: science, energy, environment, nuclear non-proliferation, and national security.

  • National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA): Funding for NNSA sees an increase of $200M over FY 2014 levels to maintain the safety, security, and readiness of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile. This increase brings NNSA’s funding to $11.4B for FY 2015.
  • Funding includes $8.2B for weapons activities as well as $1.2B for naval reactors. Advanced simulation and computing efforts receive $598.0M, including $50.0M for activities related to the exascale initiative.
  • Energy Programs: Support for programs that encourage U.S. competitiveness drive an increase of $22M over FY 2014 enacted levels, bringing funding for Energy Programs at DOE to $10.2B.
  • Science Research: Funding for energy science research is maintained at FY 2014 levels, providing $5,071M to strengthen innovation and support basic energy research, development of high-performance computing systems, and exploration into next generation clean energy solutions.
  • Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E): The advanced research organization ARPA-E receives $280.0M, $45M below the level requested for FY 2015.

Commerce

Department of Commerce funding of $8.5B marks an increase of $286M above the level enacted for FY 2014.

  • Patent and Trademark Office (PTO): $3,458M for the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office, the full estimated amount of offsetting fee collection for FY 2015. The Patents and Trademark Office had nearly $651M in unobligated balances at the end of FY 2014.
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): $675.5M for the scientific and technical core programs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
    • This amount includes $15M for the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence and up to $60.7M for cybersecurity research and development.
    • National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education receives $4M. These funds also provide $16.5M for the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), which includes up to $6M for the lab-to-market program and up to $2M for urban dome programs.
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): $5,441M for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This amount includes $3,333.4M for coastal, fisheries, marine, weather, satellite, and other programs.
  • Census Bureau: $1,088M for the Bureau of the Census, which includes $840M for periodic censuses and programs.
  • International Trade Administration: $472M in total program resources for the International Trade Administration. $10M of those funds are expected to be offset by fee collection, resulting in a direct appropriation of $462M.  Of those funds, up to $9M ins for the Interagency Trade and Enforcement Center, up to $10M is for SelectUSA, and Global Markets are funded at levels at least equal to FY 2014.

Go to Part 2 of Civilian Highlights, or check out our Defense Highlights of the FY 2015 Omnibus here.

Fellow GovWin Federal Industry Analysis (FIA) analysts Kyra Fussell, Angela Petty, and Alex Rossino contributed to this entry.

Congress Passes FY 2015 Funding – Civilian Highlights, Part 2

The U.S. Congress passed an omnibus funding bill for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2015 that includes $1.1 trillion in total in discretionary federal funds, roughly half of which goes to federal civilian departments and agencies. In part 2 we’ll look at HHS, DHS, Justice and State.

Read our Civilian Highlights, Part 1.

Health and Human Services    

HHS funding is part of the broader Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriation which totals $156.8B in discretionary funding which is the same as FY 2014 enacted levels, $926M below the president’s budget request.  Deltek estimate the HHS portion of these appropriations to be $80B.  HHS highlights of the omnibus bill include the following:

  • $2.7B in emergency funding to address the Ebola crisis.
  • $3.6B for CMS management and operations, which is equal to the level put in place by sequestration and the same as the FY 2014 enacted levels.
  • $6.9B for CDC for disease prevention and bio-defense research activities, $43M above FY 2014 program level.
  • $30B for NIH, $150M above the FY 2014 level.
  • $20M to combat prescription drug abuse around the country.
  • The bill contains several provisions to protect life, continues all longstanding restrictions on abortion funding that have been included in appropriations legislation in prior years, and promotes abstinence education.
  • $17.8B in discretionary resources for the Administration of Children and Families, which is a $108M increase.
  • The bill provides no new funding for the Affordable Care Act.

Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security is the only department in the Omnibus that is not receiving funding through the remainder of FY 2015, i.e. September 30, 2015.  The Omnibus funds DHS with a continuing resolution at the FY 2014 annual level of $39.3B through February 27, 2015 as media reports indicate that the Republican majority will seek to influence the implementation of the president’s recent immigration policy actions.

Justice

Department of Justice funding of $26.7B marks a reduction of $600M below FY 2014 enacted levels.

  • $25.8M for Justice Information Sharing Technology
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): $8.4B for the FBI increases resources by $93M over FY 2014 levels to support activities around counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, and human trafficking.
  • Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA):  $2.4B marks an increase of $21M over the 2014 enacted level.
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF): An increase of $22M above 2014 enacted levels brings ATF funds to $1.2B for 2015.
  • National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Initiative grants: $73.0M in grants are provided to improve NICS records. These grants are expected to assist states in identifying and executing approaches to add more records to the system, particularly mental health records.
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs): New state laws promoting the increase of PDMP best practices around prescribing controlled substances maintain support for technical assistance for PDMPs, PDMP data users, and other key stakeholders.
  • Additionally, DOJ is expected to identify and report on specific metrics related to cybercrime and cybersecurity efforts that may be measured.

State and International Programs

The Department of State and USAID appropriation of $49B includes $15.7B in base and contingency funding for operational costs of the State Department and related agencies, of which $5.4B is targeted for embassy security.

  • $1.4B for USAID base and contingency funding
  • $2.5B in Ebola emergency funding
  • $8.4B in base and contingency funding for international security assistance


Go to Part 3 of Civilian Highlights, or check out our Defense Highlights of the FY 2015 Omnibus here.

Top Information Security Contracts FY 2009 to 2014

Analysis of historic federal information security spending reveals where agencies are investing the most.

Methodology

As part of the research and analysis completed for the recent Federal Information Security Market, 2014 to 2019 report, the Federal Industry Analysis Team explored reported spending on information security across the government. Historic spending data was collected using a non-definitive selection of 24 information security related keyword searches on FPDS.gov. The resulting 224,297 contracts were culled down to 33,233 through further analysis. This analysis reviewed the initial set for IT-related product or spending (PSC) codes, duplicate entries, and as well as security related contract descriptions.

 

The report includes findings from the over 33,000 contracts, which provide an approximate baseline total contracted value for security contract awards that can be used to assess the overall size and composition of historical federal information security spending from FY 2009 to FY 2014. The discussion in this blog addresses findings associated with the top 50 contracts from that set.

Findings

The top 50 contracts spread nearly $1.4 billion in funds across 11 different federal agencies.

Conclusions

Over the past five years, agency top contracts have provided security related products and services including compliance with security mandates (e.g. HSPD-12), encryption devices, enterprise identity management, and technology support services. While some of these awards are through stand-alone contracts or dedicated security programs, a number are associated with agency preferred contract vehicles. Going forward, agencies aiming to implement enterprise solutions or streamline costs are likely to continue leveraging existing channels to address security capabilities.

 

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

What Portion of Federal Civilian Information Security Spending Is Contractor Addressable?

With the inconsistencies in reported federal spending, it can be difficult to determine how much agencies are investing in different technology areas, like information security. That lack of visibility can make it even more challenging for contractors to determine the size of the addressable market. The reported data for top and mid-tier civilian agencies suggests around 80% of IT security funds could be in play for contractors.

 

Drawing on agency rankings from FIA’s previous information security market reports, we see that the top five civilian agencies along with mid-tier agencies account for the lion’s share of spending on IT security outside the Defense Department. According the FY13 FISMA report, these agencies comprised 87% of civilian cyber spending. While the FISMA figures give a sense of historic direct security spending, they do not reflect current addressable funding.

 

One approach to determining the current addressability of information security spending leverages the IT budget details that agencies report to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). First the information security related categories within the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) Business Reference Model (BRM) services are identified. These categories allow investment details to be filtered by determining primary and secondary service requirements. The results that meet the FEA BRM service criteria are reviewed for relevance to information security. This process yielded 208 IT investments reported for FY 2015. Then, the contractor addressable portion of spending for each of these investments is calculated. Finally, the figures for each of the investments are used to approximate averages for the spending per investment and for the contractor addressable portions.  

Key Findings

  • Contractor addressable information security at the top 10 civilian agencies amounts to nearly $3 billion.
  • On average, contractors vie for 81% of civilian IT investments that address information security.
  • Addressability varies across the civilian agencies and does not necessarily correspond to the highest levels of spending.
    • While the Energy Department appears to have the highest contractor addressability, it has the lowest average for funding per investment.
    • Not surprisingly, the Department of Homeland Security also has a high level of addressability and the funding per investment is significantly higher, indicating a high reliance on contracted goods and services.

There are some drawbacks worth acknowledging with this approach. Obviously, the calculations rely on the accuracy of agency reporting and consistently coding investments to FEA BRM service areas. This analysis also only takes public data into account, which omits any classified funding or details. Numerous investments include an unspecified portion of spending dedicated to security. In such cases, the whole amount has been included. Additionally, the funding level associated with each of the investments reflects the requested, not approved or actual, sum. Despite some of the limitations around the conclusions, the offer a decent starting point for sizing contracted spending on information security within the federal civilian government. 

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

 

GAO: Federal Agencies are Falling Short in Overseeing IT Contractors

Federal agencies need to improve at overseeing the IT contractors that operate their computer systems and process their information, according to a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Agencies are legally required to ensure that contractors adequately protect these assets, but GAO shows that there are inconsistencies among agencies’ handling of this responsibility.

GAO set out to assess how well certain agencies oversee the security and privacy controls for systems that are operated by contractors and how well the agencies with government-wide security and privacy guidance and oversight responsibilities were doing in helping them. In their audit, GAO reviewed the implementation of security and privacy controls for selected contractor-operated systems across six federal agencies, based on their reported number of contractor-operated systems. These were the Departments of Energy (DOE), Homeland Security (DHS), State, and Transportation (DOT), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). 

GAO found that the agencies generally had established security and privacy requirements for contractors to follow and prepared for assessments to determine the effectiveness of contractor implementation of controls. However, all but DHS were inconsistent in overseeing the execution and review of those assessments. One frequent area of inconsistency was in executing test plans that would identify potential security and privacy risks. In one example, GAO found that the DOT officials did not have evidence that 44 of 133 contractor employees operating one particular system had undergone a current background investigation.

A contributing reason for shortfalls that GAO identified in agency oversight of contractors was that agencies had not effectively documented procedures to direct officials in performing such oversight activities. None of the agencies had procedures in place to direct officials in how to conduct such oversight and that led to inconsistencies.

Another area mentioned by GAO is inconsistently-applied or unclear guidance. OMB FISMA reporting instructions to agencies state that systems operated by contractors are to be reported as part of the agency’s system inventory. But GAO found that agencies are interpreting and applying the guidance differently because the guidance for categorizing and reporting contractor-operated systems does not clearly define what constitutes a contractor-operated system. The difference in application causes many systems that are contractor-operated to not be classified as such.  This has resulted in incomplete information on the number of contractor-operated systems within the government.

Potential Cost Implications

Given the areas of shortfall within agencies it is possible that renewed efforts could have cost and administrative implications in several areas:

  • Personnel Security – Scrutiny of contractor background investigations is at an all-time high and inconsistencies discovered by GAO may result in direct costs and/or delays to companies and agencies while sufficient background investigations are completed. Similar implications may result if required agency-specific training in security or contingency planning has not been consistently administered.
  • Compliance Efforts – Given GAO’s spotlight on inconsistencies in how systems are evaluated, assessments of systems and personnel for compliance with agency requirements will likely increase, adding short-term burden until processes are in place and efforts are routine.
  • FISMA Assessment – Increased clarity or education from OMB on applying their FISMA reporting standards for contractor-operated systems could increase scrutiny on some systems – both government-owned, contractor-operated and contractor-owned, contractor-operated.  Many of these systems may have been previously overlooked or mis-categorized, which could spur deeper scrutiny and increased costs.

Potential Contractor Opportunities

As agencies strive to improve they may look to industry experts for assistance in the following areas:

  • Procedure Development – Agencies will need to document the procedures for their officials to follow in order to perform effective oversight of contractors. While these efforts may be considered inherently governmental in nature, some agencies may seek the help of contracted experts to aid in solidifying such procedures. Expect agencies to maintain directive control over this process.
  • Independent Assessments – GAO found that five of the six agencies they studied used independent assessors for system reviews, as required by NIST, and this included contracting for these assessment services. There may be continued opportunities for contractors to find work in this area. Expect agency officials to verify that the selected assessor is independent.
  • Test Plan Development and Execution – While most agencies that GAO audited had developed test plans, almost none of them had effectively executed test plans. Here is another area where independent contracted services may be in demand.

Considering GAO’s recommendations focus on both procedures and policies – that agencies develop procedures for contractor oversight and that OMB clarify reporting instructions to agencies – it will take some time for agencies to fully address the concerns raised in the report.

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

Raising the Stakes of Contractor Past Performance Information

Contractor past performance information is one tool federal agencies are being pressed to use more effectively to guard against acquisition risk and recent White House acquisition policy and a Government Accountability Office (GAO) assessment signals that the pressure in this area will only continue to grow. Some efforts are fairly standard government approaches, but others expand into new areas and have implications for both agencies and their contracting companies.

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) has issued numerous reporting compliance guidelines and recommendations over the last half-decade or more to move agencies to improve their reporting of contractor past performance. Further, Congress has included past performance reporting mandates in the last several National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA). In typical fashion, GAO is looking for continued signs that these efforts are materializing so that agencies have this information available to make informed acquisition decisions.

Most Agencies Fall Short of Contractor Past Performance Reporting Compliance Targets

In August, the GAO released an assessment of how federal agencies were doing with regard to improving their reporting of contractor past performance information. According to OFPP’s annual reporting performance targets, agencies should have been at least 65 percent compliant by the end of fiscal year 2013. GAO found that agencies generally have improved their level of compliance with past performance reporting requirements issued by OFPP. However, the rate of compliance varies widely by agency and most have not met OFPP targets. As of April 2014, for the top 10 agencies, based on the number of contracts requiring an evaluation, the compliance rate ranged from 13 to 83 percent and only two of the top 10 agencies were above 65 percent compliance. (See chart below.)


 

OFPP Expanding Scope of Contractor Past Performance Information

In July, the OFPP directed agencies to research past performance more deeply before awarding complex IT development, systems and services contracts greater than $500 thousand in value. Further, OFPP directed agencies to expand the scope of the research processes used to collect contractors’ past performance information during source selection.

In order to have the most relevant, recent, and meaningful information about potential contracting partners considered in the pre-award phase of the acquisition process agencies were instructed to have their acquisition officials perform the following steps:

  • Recent Contracts - Contact contracting officers (COs) and/or Program Managers (PMs) on at least 2 of contractors’ largest, most recent contracts to review work history.
  • News Searches – a Review articles and publications (include. GAO and IG reports) on contractor performance and business integrity.
  • Commercial Sources - Review public sources and databases for business reviews, customer evaluations, contractor management reports, etc.
  • References – a Request 3-5 references from public and commercial customers, partners, subcontractors, etc. for work done in past 3-5 years.
  • Teaming Partners – Request past performance information on subcontractors and team arrangements.

Implications

The impacts on agencies and contractors alike include greater time and effort (i.e. expense) in collecting and providing this performance information. This will stretch an already-overly-tasked federal acquisitions workforce even further and will require that contractors pay broader attention to their performance reputations and those of their teaming partners.

The new OFPP directives and others like them will also likely extend the time it takes to complete the source selection process on applicable acquisitions, at least until all sides of the acquisition process build some repeatable processes and efficiencies into their systems.

What we can hope for in the end is more transparency, better managed acquisitions with fewer protests, and overall better performing contracts that meet the government’s goals with economy and efficiency and provide business growth opportunities along the way.

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

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