How Dumb Policies Scare Tech Giants Away From Federal Projects – Plus 7 Gov Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • The Data Act was just signed into law – and it’s going to have far-reaching effects on federal agencies and hundreds of thousands of recipient of federal funds So what can you expect? We get answers from TechAmerica’s Mike Hettinger.

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But up front: How Dumb Policies Scare Tech Giants Away From Federal Projects

Via Slashdot: A study published in March found that that the reason why the U.S. government has sub-par IT programs is because leading commercial IT companies established in the U.S. aren’t involved in government contracting. Either the government holds closed bidding, essentially stifling competition to its own disadvantage, or prospective companies are put off by the cost-prohibitive regulations associated with government acquisition given the low returns (less than 10% as compared to 20% or more in the commercial world).

The dysfunction that results has been documented by the Government Accountability Office: of 15 Department of Defense IT projects studied, 11 had cost increases (one of which was by 2,333%), 13 had schedule slippages (one of which was by six years), and only three met system performance goals. If the U.S. wants to lead other governments in technical capabilities by tapping into the technology being developed within its own borders, then some say that instead of exemptions and workarounds such as was applied with, a complete rebuild of the whole acquisition program would need to be implemented.

Wired oped by William Greenwalt, visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute’s Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies. He previously served as a Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy: How Dumb Policies Scare Tech Giants Away From Federal Projects: Regardless of political persuasion, few who ever visited or tried to use after its launch would argue that the Obamacare website was anything other than a colossal acquisition failure. The site wasn’t openly bid. It was limited to companies “pre-qualified” to do IT business for the feds. But the fiasco is only the visible tip of the iceberg that is federal government procurement, and notwithstanding the titanic disaster of that experience, neither Congress nor the administration is trying to fix it. What has not been emphasized is that the woes of the Obamacare website were far from a one-off, but rather, the standard for federal information technology (IT) procurement.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life:

  1. Washington Post: Administration reinstates awards for top civil servants – “The Obama administration is reinstating an awards program for senior level federal executives that went dormant last year. Members of the Senior Executive Service and their counterparts in scientific fields are eligible for The Presidential Rank Awards. The awards were not given last year because of sequestration budget cuts, much to the consternation of the Senior Executives Association. Federal law provides for monetary prizes with the awards — 20 percent of salary for a Meritorious rank award and 35 percent for a Distinguished rank award. Now top senior executives are paid almost $190,000.”

  2. GovExec: OPM Wants to Untie Agencies’ HR Knots – “The Office of Personnel Management is pursuing various strategies that focus on the individual needs of agencies, as well as human resources challenges common across government, to improve federal hiring and employee retention, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said on Monday.”

  3. NextGov: NIH Launches $20 Billion Governmentwide IT Procurement – “A new governmentwide contract worth up to $20 billion includes everything from fax machines to genetic sequencers to enterprise storage, according to solicitation documents. The Chief Information Officer-Commodities and Solutions — or CIO-CS — contract aims to support information technology across the federal government, particularly focusing on agencies involved in health care and clinical and biological research, like the National Institutes of Health and its parent, the Health and Human Services Department.”

  4. Federal Times: GSA, NHTSA team up to improve federal vehicle safety – “The General Services Administration will boost safety efforts and research new technologies for its federal fleet, according to an agreement signed May 12 with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”

  5. Washington Post: Bipartisan bill would increase maternity leave for military moms – “At least 50 lawmakers from both parties are backing a House bill to increase the length of maternity leave for women in the military from six to 12 weeks. The legislation, known as the Military Opportunities for Mothers (MOM) Act, would bring the military in line with federal guidelines for female civilian federal workers established through the Family and Medical Leave Act. Reps. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) sponsored the new measure.”

  6. Federal Times: Bill would drop TSP penalty for law enforcement officers, firefighters – “Reps. Dave Reicher, R-Wash., and Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., introduced H.R. 4634, which would allow federal law enforcement officers, firefighters, border protection and customs officers to withdraw funds from their Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) after the age of 50 without a tax penalty.”

  7. Federal Times: GSA’s digital incubator tackles contracting, hiring times – “The General Services wants to break down contracting barriers, streamline purchasing and development processes and cut hiring times in its efforts to transform government and its delivery of services. The agency’s 18F digital services incubator is tackling issues across government in order to disrupt inefficient traditions and replace them with flexible, cost-effective and more user-friendly ways of conducting government business.”

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