Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski, the principal military deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, a division known as ASA(ALT), joked that this July was a slow month for the U.S. Army. When in fact, the service is pursuing the establishment of its fourth command. “Everybody knows how busy the Army is,” the general said. The new Austin, Texas-based Army Futures Command—the location of which was announced last week by Army leaders at the Pentagon—will be spearheading the service’s modernization efforts.
Faced with a decreasing workforce, budgetary challenges and the annual mammoth effort of collecting, processing and enforcing the nation’s taxation, U.S. Department of Treasury’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is also implementing the tax reform Congress mandated in December under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the largest tax reform in 30 years. At the same time, the bureau must innovate to continuously improve the taxpayer experience and lessen the burden of filing taxes, said IRS leaders at the IRS Fiscal Year 2018 Industry Conversation event on July 10 in Washington, DC.
For an agency that awarded $2.5 billion in contract obligations in fiscal year 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is a big player in federal procurement. And as the IRS begins to implement the major tax reform mandated by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress in late December, not to mention handling federal information technology modernization efforts, the agency is tackling another challenge: procurement improvements.
The IRS understands that any improvement in procurement efficiencies will help the agency in terms of increased competition in bidding and driving down prices, while providing more innovative solutions for its internal customers who are carrying out the IRS’ mission, according to officials.
Small business contracts and opportunities within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) encompass all facets of the agency’s mission, from preventing terrorism to providing border security, managing immigration, ensuring cybersecurity and providing disaster relief. In the last fiscal year, small businesses—in the role of prime contractors—received 47 percent of all strategically sourced contracts for products and services supporting the agency, explains Carla Thomas, DHS industry liaison.
The U.S. Department of Defense is seeing the nation’s adversaries use capabilities better than the American military, but change is underway. In particular, the Army recognizes that it must dust off some of its aging procurement processes and leverage commercial technology to regain an advantage over its enemies, said Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, USA, the Army’s chief information officer/G-6, at the MILCOM 2017 conference in Baltimore.
Working to slough off the culture of archaic contracting processes, certain offices within the Defense Department are implementing innovative procurement processes, especially for information technology (IT) products and services. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), which is responsible for building, operating and securing the DOD Information Network (DODIN) for U.S. forces, has taken some proactive measures to introduce improvements into its contracting processes, according to Rear Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, vice director, DISA.
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) will host two proposers’ day conferences later this month in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area in anticipation of new solicitations.
The first, for the Homomorphic Encryption Computing Techniques with Overhead Reduction (HECTOR) program, will be held on July 26. The second, for the Finding Engineering-Linked Indicators (FELIX) program, will be held the next day. Both will begin at 9:00 a.m.
U.S. Army leaders have not consistently evaluated the efficiency and effectiveness of the department’s contracting operations, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has concluded. To amend the situation, the office recommends developing metrics to assess contracting operations for timeliness, cost savings and contract quality; documenting rationales for key decisions; and establishing measurable objectives to assess the effects of organizational changes on contracting operations.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has simplified several rules for its government-wide federal mentor-protege program, but introduced changes that could be too constraining for both big and small businesses.
Throughout the summer, the SBA worked on rule changes that largely clones the agency’s 8(a) Business Development mentor-protege program after Congress granted the agency authority to streamline the program across all government agencies as part of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.