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Streams 1 and 2 of GAIT 2010 Under Evaluation

According to the Georgia Technology Authority (GTA), the Georgia Infrastructure Transformation 2010 Project (GAIT 2010) is one step closer to being awarded. The GTA stated that proposals for Information Technology Infrastructure Outsourcing Services (Stream 1) and Information Technology Managed Network Services (Stream 2) are currently under evaluation. Requests for Proposals for each stream were released in April 2008.

Currently, evaluations for both streams are being conducted by teams made up of GTA and agency staff. Business relationship, finance, human resource, and terms and conditions teams will be evaluating proposals for both RFPs, while individual technical teams will be assigned to each RFP.

At this point, evaluations are in the first phase, consisting of reading and carefully scoring each RFP. The teams will then schedule solution walkthroughs to take place in July, where service providers will respond to inquiries compiled by the evaluators. After the walkthroughs in July, potential service providers will then modify their proposals, which will be reviewed and scored again at a later date. GTA is currently estimating that evaluations will be completed in August 2008. The GTA is anticipating that if the timeline stays on track, contract negotiations should be completed in September or October 2008, while a contract for each opportunity is anticipated to be signed by October or November 2008.

While the evaluations of Stream 1 and Stream 2 are GTAs priority at this time, the agency states that there is a potential for a Stream 3, although the requirements of the stream, as well as a potential release date, are currently unavailable.

In 2009, DHS expects some New Faces, Same Deadlines

Much has already been written about the effect of the upcoming Presidential election on the Department of Homeland Security – namely that it will be the five-year old department's first transition. Will there be career officials in place to instill institutional memory? Will the Department respond in the face of increased threats of terrorism that so many of our allies have faced in similar transitions? Congress has even threatened to subpoena DHS' transition plans. What's more, DHS' most high profile programs have milestones or deadlines occurring early in the new administration.

TWIC

The first major deadline comes in April 2009, when all workers with access to secure areas of U.S. ports must be enrolled in the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program (TWIC). Workers may pre-enroll online, but must visit a regional enrollment center to complete the identification process. In total, approximately 300,000 workers have fully enrolled out of an estimated 1.5 million who need the credentials. After discussions with the port community, DHS allowed for a seven-month extension of the original September 2008.

US-VISIT

With the close of public comments on June 23, DHS must now finalize its plan for moving forward with the exit portion of its US-VISIT mandate, also known as the US Visitor and Immigration Status Indication Technology System. DHS proposed a requirement for airlines to collect biometric information on foreign travelers when leaving the country. Despite significant criticism from industry, DHS could move forward with its plans or re-evaluate. Additionally, the department recently released a RFI to industry for GovWin on how to implement a tracking strategy for exits at land ports of entry. Regardless, Congress mandated that DHS has until June 2009 to implement an exit strategy or risk losing its Visa Waiver Program.

WHTI

Also in June 2009, DHS must be equipped to enforce new border regulations known as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. WHTI represents a higher level of border security with requirements for travelers to present government-issued passports or similar cards equipped with radio frequency identification (RFID) chips. In addition to installing personnel and technology for this process, DHS is faced with challenges in notifying the public of these changes; otherwise, major disruptions to the industry could occur, particularly along the U.S.-Canadian border.

DHS has already encountered significant challenges in its five year history, but will it be ready to charge into 2009 with a new President as well as a new Secretary? So far, things are looking up, as the department places career officials such as Elaine Duke into key positions to bring consistency at a time of change. With key programs finally coming to fruition after much debate and oversight, 2009 will be a landmark year either way.

Colorado’s GEM Review Uncovers $200 Million in Cost Savings

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter has released the Year 1 report of the Government Efficiency and Management (GEM) Performance Review which rendered ninety (90) recommendations that will improve state government customer service and save millions of dollars. Although, the recommendations range from practical to technical, the Governor ensures that they will impact government operations significantly.

On June 25, 2008, Gov. Bill Ritter presented the ninety cost-saving and efficiency proposals identified through the yearlong GEM Review. About 12,000 employees kicked off the GEM Review by responding to a statewide Performance Review. A Performance Review is a structured approach to review governmental services and to pinpoint possible savings, efficiencies, improved customer service and new non-tax revenues. Line staff and managers were challenged to view the patterns of management and service delivery and identify innovative ways for government to improve business. This platform allowed employees to be creative without any inhibitions. By challenging basic assumptions about the role of government, the Performance Review allowed government leaders to redesign organizations or programs and to focus on outcomes.

The Year 1 report recommendations include:

  • Transform inefficient operations & stretch state dollars further
  • Break down "silos" so departments can work together to improve services and reduce costs
  • Apply "best practices" from other states and the private sector
  • Apply technology to improve customer service
  • Detect, deter and reduce Medicaid fraud by using sophisticated fraud detection technology -- $47.5 million in savings
  • Improve Colorado's procurement system to reduce the cost of goods and services -- $12.4 million in savings
  • Increase energy efficiency of state buildings with new equipment, operations and a systematic application of energy performance contracting - - $19.7 million in savings
  • Reduce printing and postage costs by automating documents for board meetings and using electronic communications rather than mailing paper documents -- $1 million in savings
  • Add second and third shifts to some state maintenance garages to reduce the need for more costly outsourced repairs -- $1.2 million
  • GovWin anticipates that more states will develop similar initiatives to identify ways to save money. These initiatives encourage questioning fundamental assumptions which then allow government leaders to be more accepting of unconventional and technical solutions.

    eHealth to the Rescue in Indiana

    During recent natural disasters response to the need for electronic medical assistance is almost immediate, establishing collaborations and making vital health care records accessible in real-time to make critical decisions and provide quality care. If the health care industry can respond to disaster relief with health IT efforts in a snap then why can't the industry respond to the mounting need for health IT in non-disaster time?

    In an effort to provide assistance to victims of the floods ravaging Indiana, the state Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) announced the creation of the Flood Victims eHealth Support Center on June 20, 2008. Hundreds of houses and businesses have been flooded and victims evaluated to shelters. As a result, paper-based medical records are not accessible in some localities leading to the necessity of accessing EHRs. The relief effort will provide doctors with obtainable medical information for treatment in a timely manner to provide a high quality of care. The Indiana Health Information Exchange (IHIE) is handling the calls and collaborating on the initiative with the Regenstrief Institute and the Electronic Data Systems (EDS). The information is being made available through the Indiana Network for Patient Care (INPC).

    The flooding in IN is demonstrating how public and private health care stakeholders, in particular state government and health information exchanges, can swiftly collaborate on health IT projects to provide more effective health care services. Natural disasters are one of many drivers demonstrating the necessity of electronic health care and can serve as case studies for moving forward with adoption and implementation. As with Hurricane Katrina, doctors in similar disaster response situations are left with a fragmented medical history, if at all, which can lead to increased errors, higher costs, duplication, lack of efficiency and lower quality of care due to so many missing pieces. While escalated in a disaster, these factors are present in everyday health care services.

    Ohio's Strickland Set to Reform Process of State Procurement

    According to a June 25th press release on his Office of the Governor website, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland is ready for change when it comes to state procurement. The purpose of the press release is to announce Strickland's signing of two executive orders targeted at increasing the state's purchasing power for cost savings and increasing the effectiveness of two initiatives that help grow disadvantaged and minority-owned businesses in Ohio. "Both executive orders are part of our continuing effort to reform government operations in a way that maintains our states competitive advantage and attracts business to Ohio", said Strickland.

    The first executive order is aimed at reiterating Ohio's commitment to disadvantaged and minority-owned businesses by increasing participation in the "Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity (EDGE)" and the "Minority Business Enterprise (MBE)" programs. The overall theme of this executive order is Strickland calling on all of Ohio's state agencies to appoint an equal employment opportunity officer, as well as improve access to state contracts for EDGE and MBE vendors. Some other goals of this executive order are for state agencies to create goals for improvement, track their spending with EDGE and MBE vendors through a scorecard system, and work closely with the Department of Administrative Services' Equal Opportunity Division. Strickland feels that all vendors should have an equal and fair chance to compete for and enter into state contracts, which was the cause for his signing this order. Strickland was also quoted saying "While these programs exist to help bridge the economic gap for minorities and the disadvantaged, they ultimately create jobs and help small businesses grow and succeed."

    The second executive order signed by Strickland calls for the cooperation of all state agencies to work together to achieve cost savings and efficiencies when purchasing services and supplies, as well as outlining procurement reform efforts. Additionally, the executive order is tasked with hiring a chief procurement office to oversee agency purchasing functions for the Department of Adminstrative Services.

    Currently, the state government spends $3.5 billion annually on services and supplies. By signing this executive order (assuming the agencies abide by it), state agencies are estimated to save between $34 million and $72 million per year.

    Another aspect of the second executive order is its utilization of "Think Ohio First" practices, which are aimed at promoting economic development via maxing out the usage of Ohio businesses when agencies conduct purchases of goods and services. The order also requires agencies to increase their use of technology in performing and tracking purchases statewide.

    While it can certainly be said that both of these executive orders are steps in the right direction, if carried out as intended, GovWin believes the second will have the largest effect on the overall well-being of Ohio's purchasing power. In particular, the idea of a chief procurement officer to oversee agency purchasing, as well as putting a greater emphasis on technology in performing/tracking purchases, can almost only be seen as positive.

    House Appropriations Committee Showdown

    It looks like the list of potential barriers to getting a budget approved by the end of the fiscal year (discussed in a recent GovWin blog post) keeps getting longer.

    On the surface, the budget appropriations process may not be the most stimulating topic for a Friday morning, but when House Appropriations Committee meetings end in "chaos" as reported by Congressional Quarterly (CQ), my ears tend to perk up. According to the article, yesterday's committee meeting was abruptly adjourned, leaving three fiscal 2009 spending bills – Agriculture, Labor-HHS-Education, and Interior-Environment – in limbo.

    Republican Jerry Lewis (CA) asked Committee chairman David Obey (D-WI) to bring up the Interior spending bill immediately after the July 4th recess. Obey declined and moved on, spurring Lewis to offer an amendment to essentially replace the Labor-HHS-Education bill's text with the Interior spending bill so it can be put up for vote. From there it goes downhill, with Rep. John Peterson (R-PA) offering an amendment to the amendment, until a motion was made to adjourn. End of meeting.

    So what is so interesting about this Interior-Environment spending bill? Rep. John Peterson (R-Pa) proposed a modification to allow oil and gas exploration in offshore areas along the Atlantic, Pacific and eastern Gulf Coasts during a subcommittee meeting earlier this month. The general bill, which would provide $27.9 billion to Interior and EPA, was approved by the Interior-Environment subcommittee but the modification was not. Now that the appropriations bills are at the committee level, Rep. Lewis' apparently saw an opportunity for a second chance.

    The good news is that the House Appropriations Committee has approved the following appropriations bills:

  • Commerce, Justice, Science
  • Energy and Water
  • Financial Services
  • Homeland Security
  • Military Construction and Veteran's Affairs
  • While this information gives us a sneak peek into how the appropriations magic happens, it also highlights how muddy the budget picture could become as we contemplate a potential Continuing Resolution for FY2009 and a current services baseline budget for FY2010. All of this adds to the level of uncertainty for contractors wondering what the future holds for their customers' budgets.

    2.3 Million Texans will be Scrambling for Food as TIERS Remains in Shambles

    While the economy is suffering from a steady rise in food and gas prices, many states are relying heavily on the federal Food Stamp Program and putting forth the extra effort to obtain federally funded food stamps for those who are eligible. In fact, most states are reaching out to millions more who may not realize they are eligible or are reluctant to participate. However, that does not seem to be the case for the state of Texas as they continue to delay and deteriorate their eligibility and benefits enrollment services during these tough financial times, leaving their food stamp recipients hungry and frustrated.

    Last week, the state of Texas received final approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials to expand the use of their divisive public assistance enrollment system, known as the Texas Integrated Eligibility Redesign System, or TIERS. Nonetheless, the state's Health and Human Services Commissioner, Albert Hawkins, has denied the expansion. In the past, Hawkins has ignored the feds, such as in 2006 when he linked the launch of the Accenture call center network with an expansion of TIERS, and in early 2007 when the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) moved forward with an expansion of TIERS despite the glitches in the system. Moreover, on March 23, 2007, the feds denied HHSC's approval to expand the system after learning about their plans. However, now that the feds have given permission to the state to expand, Hawkins has decided to comply with a legislative request that the HHSC first establish and meet a series of goals before expanding the web-based computer system that is responsible for food stamp enrollment.

    Texas has struggled to process food stamp cases as quickly as the 30-day time frame required by the federal government. Just in May 2008, the USDA's Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) approved an expansion of TIERS, but only to 22 percent of food stamp cases attributable to a series of application backlogs and too many approvals taking too long. Currently, 9 percent of cases are in TIERS. A month prior to that, in April 2008, only 49.2 percent of the state's food stamp applications processed were completed on time using TIERS as opposed to the 92.6 percent processed using the old computer system in the same period. In addition to the technical complexities with TIERS, the state has also been struggling with staff turnovers.

    As a result of a new law requiring legislators to vigilantly inspect the state's work enrolling Texans in programs such as food stamps, the state legislation has created an oversight committee to retain supervision, hold HHSC accountable, and to guarantee a practical approach toward expanding TIERS. Thus, Hawkins has been asked to propose benchmarks later this summer to the oversight committee, such as ensuring that there is adequate staff trained in TIERS. Consequently, the state will not begin rollout in July 2008.

    In 2003, the state set out to privatize enrollment in social services in an effort to improve access to state benefits by reducing operation and maintenance costs, and improving the accuracy and timeliness of eligibility and benefits. The intended goal of the web-based system and call centers was to bring efficiency to state benefit programs and make it easier for eligible Texans to get their food stamps and other benefits by submitting their applications by phone, fax, internet, and mail, rather than having to do them in person at HHSC local branch offices. Yet, five years have gone by and the results have been quite different as TIERS remains in the same debacle, manifested by technical difficulties, staffing shortages, and inadequate training of the private call center staff. Most importantly, the consequences of HHSC's mismanagement are causing needless hardships on Texans who are in desperate need of food stamps. As recently stated, about 2.3 million Texans are on food stamps. Nevertheless, given the history of TIERS, with continuous delays and its inability to maintain case records and/or process applications in a timely manner, many food stamp recipients are probably left hanging, wondering if they will ever receive their benefits. Not only have the poorly managed call center and computer system projects failed to perform as promised, but they have also wasted half a billion of taxpayers' dollars.

    Consistent with the high volume of weekly news articles and as indicated by the USDA, a record number of people have been entering the Food Stamp Program as the economy weakens due to the high food and gas prices and lost jobs. This has been more than any other year since the program began in 1964. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Food Stamp Program is expected to spend $36 billion on 28 million recipients nationwide in the fiscal year starting October 1, 2008, an 8 percent increase in participation over the year before. On the same note, there are individual states that are experiencing a much larger increase, such as New Hampshire, reporting an 18 percent rise in food stamp applications compared to last year. Furthermore, Maine and Michigan have indicated that one in eight residents now relies on the food subsidy, compared to about one in 11 nationwide. West Virginia is another example, reporting an even higher rate of one in six.

    According to the USDA, there are currently 15 states that offer online Food Stamps applications, with Texas being one of them:

    • Delaware
    • Florida
    • Iowa
    • Kansas
    • New Jersey
    • Maryland
    • Massachusetts
    • Pennsylvania
    • Rhode Island
    • Tennessee
    • Texas
    • Virginia
    • Washington
    • West Virginia
    • Wisconsin
    The following six states are testing programs accept electronic applications in specific cities and counties before going statewide:
    • California
    • Idaho
    • Indiana
    • New Hampshire
    • New York
    • Utah
    As indicated by the USDA, nearly 36 million Americans go hungry every year, including 12 million children, and the numbers are rising.

    Air Force Cyber Command is Virtually Ready to Stand Up

    Air Force Cyber Command announced yesterday that they will meet their staffing requirements by temporarily operating virtually across nine locations. The Air Force has made it clear with this and previous moves that Cyber Command intends to make the best use of already available resources. In the AFCC press release, General Lord states that a main benefit of a virtual command is that it will "minimize environmental impacts".

    As operations get under way, we can expect to see how this interim set up will affect the final basing decision. The Air Force may decide to continue running Cyber Command virtually across more than one base or continue with plans to completely relocate staff to one base.

    Announced Locations and proposed personnel positions:

    • Barksdale AFB, LA: 36
    • Scott AFB, IL: 69
    • Langley AFB, VA: 58
    • Lackland AFB, TX: 43
    • Tinker AFB, OK: 5
    • Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ: 20
    • Wright-Patterson AFB, OH: 13
    • Hanscom AFB, MA: 7
    • Griffiss ANGB: 2
    • Peterson AFB, CO: Tentative

    Six of the announced locations (LA, VA, TX, OH, MA and CO) are among the bases that are under consideration as the permanent headquarters for the Air Force Cyber Command. If AFCC continues their conservative approach to establishing the new headquarters, we can expect that the permanent location will be one of these six bases.

    Where do you think the Air Force will base Cyber Command?

    According to the 202 people that took our online poll, Langley AFB (23%) and Barksdale AFB (22%) are the most likely choices followed by Hanscom AFB (14%) and Wright-Patterson AFB (13%). It will not be surprising to see these bases become the final four when the Air Force chooses the short-list this summer.

    New York pushes procurement transparency and accessibility

    To the satisfaction of all those doing business or wanting to do business with the state of New York, Governor David A. Patterson and the State legislature have put together some outstanding additions to the 1995 Procurement Stewardship Act in the hopes of increasing transparency and accessibility of state contracts.

    The impetus of these changes include the Governor and legislature's desire to spur economic development in New York State's small and minority or women owned businesses and a series of public hearings held in 2005 and 2008 by the State Assembly and the Office of General Services (OGS) individually to address procurement concerns. Improved efficiency by the streamlining of procurement is an additional motive, although the State is being careful not to compromise social and economic goals in the process.

    The 1995 Procurement Stewardship Act was originally set to expire June 30, 2008, but is extended with the current legislation for an additional 4 years. Highlights from the legislature include:

    • Agencies must provide justification for non-competitive procurements and post the argument on the agency website
    • Agencies must post information on winning bidders to their website
    • OGS will likewise post justifications for selections on centralized contracts to their website
    • Department of Economic Development will publish the procurement opportunity newsletter daily and it will be available for free to all Internet users
    • State will investigate an e-Procurement System
    • State will streamline procurement while supporting social and economic goals by encouraging regional contracts and maintaining open enrollment for centralized contracts
    • Municipalities will be able to use centralized contracts
    • Process for debriefing losing bidders will be formalized and made more accessible

    DISA on Track Despite Leadership and BRAC Challenges

    The upcoming retirement of DISA Director Lt. General Charles Croom brings with it many issues that have been bandied about industry since his announcement. He has been a staunch component of conservative and conscious innovation and efficiency, but the most recent talk is actually about his potential successor.

    A recent GovWin blog post discussed the recently blocked nomination of Navy Rear Admiral Hight to follow Croom as DISA Director. The Senate rationale centered on a conflict of interest due to her marriage to a Northrop Grumman VP – a conflict that did not seem to bar her from her current Vice Director position or other career achievements.

    I recently spoke with a senior level DISA official about this and other leadership changes, as well as how DISA is positioned to navigate upcoming organizational changes. Our conversation is summarized below:

    On Navy Rear Admiral Hight

    She echoed the sentiment expressed in the GovWin blog, and characterized the problem as a "perceived" conflict of interest. The same conflict of interest existed when RADM Hight became Vice Director, so the current focus on it now is puzzling. In the wake of some very public acquisition and management missteps (e.g. the recent Northrop Grumman/Boeing/Air Force protest ruling and the forced resignations of former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley and Secretary Michael W. Wynne), she thinks that decision makers may be somewhat gun shy about any potential impropriety. She confirmed that RADM Hight plans to stay on at DISA as Vice Director until the end of her term to provide continuity.

    While she could not name names, she confirmed that DISA is continuing the search for a new Director. The challenge will be in meeting the criteria: someone who is suitable for the position, a 2-star General seeking a 3rd star; and available. A review of each military branch has a limited number of Generals from which to choose, especially during wartime.

    On Stability and Continuity

    Our contact emphasized DISA's conscious efforts to provide stability as the organization navigates the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process and its move to Ft. Meade, MD; changes among its leadership; and the upcoming change in administration. In addition to Lt. General Croom's retirement, there are other notable comings and goings among DISA leadership:

  • Evelyn DePalma, former Director for Procurement and Logistics, retired this year
  • Rebecca Cowan-Hirsch, Director of SATCOM, Program Executive Office, Satellite Transmission Systems is leaving in July
  • Dr. Edward Siomacco, Vice Program Director for GIG Enterprise Services, is moving to the Army 9th Signal Command
  • New SES Henry Sienkowicz is now in the role of Technical Director of Computing Services
  • New SES Mark Orndorff will take on the role of Director, Program Executive Office, Information Assurance/NetOps
  • DISA's military leadership comes and goes every 2 to 3 years, but the agency maintains a corps of civilian SES members who have been with the agency for at least 10 years. This team, which includes CIO John Garing, Component Acquisition Executive Tony Montemarano, and CTO Dave Mihelcic, provides a solid foundation for the many changes occurring within the next couple of years. Our source also highlighted the importance of the GS-15 professionals within DISA. While executives (fewer than 40) set the strategy and vision, these individuals provide the expertise for the day-to-day operations that keep DISA on target.

    On BRAC Transition Planning

    Under the leadership of Lt. General Croom, DISA's planning for the future has been detailed and thorough. Because of the critical nature of DISA's mission – keeping DoD's networks on at all times – BRAC and leadership transitions must be well-developed.

    She recounted a meeting of senior DISA officials to discuss executive leadership succession planning. Lt. General Croom gave everyone a piece of paper and asked them to note, anonymously, whether they intended to stay at DISA after the move to Ft. Meade. If the outcome of that exercise is any indication, most of the turnover as a result of BRAC will not be among the leadership. It will likely be among DISA's engineers and other professionals for whom the challenges of the move outweigh the benefits.

    On the Future

    She is confident that DISA's progress in enterprise services, acquisition agility, and innovation will continue with the cooperation of industry. Lt. General Croom's strategy is deeply ingrained in the culture of the organization, and she does not foresee changes to that vision.

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