Introducing GSA’s Federal Acquisition Marketplace

Is it better for government to have multiple contracts run by multiple organizations — or is it better to have one big government contract shop which can then drive down costs.

Tom Sharpe, the commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, clearly believes that it is the latter — and that GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service is just the place.

I got to moderate a panel hosted by the Association of Federal Information Resource Managers featuring Shape and the FAS leadership. During that session, Sharpe introduced the Federal Acquisition Marketplace, which he sees as a place where GSA provides unbiased advice — even if it comes from somewhere other than GSA; offers better contracts; and offers a wide spectrum of services.

Sharpe presented a video describing the Federal Acquisition Marketplace:


You can also see the slides he used during the presentation that further describes the Federal Acquisition Marketplace:

GSA’s big challenge is building trust. My argument is that multiple contracts enable innovation. The big problem right now is there is no cost for going alone. That needs to change, it seems. Maybe all contracts are governmentwide contracts — to be honest, the idea of specific GWACs seems antiquated to me and more of a difference without real meaning. Why not make all contracts GWACs and require that agencies who create their own contracts collect the additional data as GSA, NASA’s SEWP and NIH do… thus creating a cost incentive for playing together in the existing sandbox. If one comes up with a better idea, AWESOME — and they will be rewarded with additional business.

Some other coverage of the event:


The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. HuffingtonPost: “Marco Rubio Hints At A Government Shutdown Fight Over Immigration”—According to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), President Barack Obama’s unilateral action regarding immigration, which is set to occur this fall, will restrict future chances for reform. Rubio would like Senate Republicans to fight the highly possible executive order through the budget process in September. Once Congress returns on September 8, policy makers will have only ten days to reach an agreement as to how to continue funding the government or risk a shutdown. As of now, two controversial issues (newly placed restrictions on coal-fueled power plants and the Export-Import Bank renewal) already threaten the consensus, and adding immigration to the plate will intensify an already unstable situation.

  2. The Hill: “CBO: Federal deficit to tick up over $500B”—On Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) increased its projection for this year’s federal deficit to $506 billion. In the budget office’s April report, it had projected a $492 billion deficit by Sept. 30 of fiscal 2014 year. According to the CBO, it has raised the projection due to receiving $37 billion less than expected from corporate income tax receipts. Compared to Obama’s first year in office ($1.1 trillion deficit) and last year ($680 billion deficit), this year’s projection reflects a massive drop. The economy is predicted to grow gradually this year and then at a faster rate during the following two years.

  3. USAToday: “Report: VA scandal probe targets potential obstruction of justice”— The FBI and Justice Department have partnered with the inspector general of Veterans Affairs in order to investigate claims of obstruction of justice instances occurring at dozens of veterans hospitals throughout the nation. According to a report by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, a total of 93 VA health care facilities are under investigation for fabricating scheduling records “attempting to obstruct OIG (Office of Inspector General) and other investigative efforts” and cover up delays in patient health care. The report characterized this as a major “breakdown in the ethics system” in the VA health care program and stated that the investigations had revealed that the “wait-time manipulations were prevalent throughout” the VA health care system. New VA secretary, Robert McDonald, stated that the organization was working hard to address this issue and change its image and internal procedures.

    1. Reading @NYTimes: Obama Plans More Measures to Improve Health Care for Veterans

  4. GOVERNING: “How Displaced Workers Are Recovering (or Not)”—From 2010 to 2013, nearly 4.3 million people lost their long-time positions of employment. During this period, over 60 percent of government employees retained their jobs, almost 20 percent were unemployed, and the remaining fell completely out of the labor force during this period. More and more “displaced workers” have found new work, but the job market is worse than in the years leading up to the most recent recession. Despite some improvements to the job market, about half of the individuals who were fortunate to find new jobs were forced to accept much lower salaries, with over a quarter of people reporting severe pay cuts of 20 percent or greater. Overall, people who found new employment opportunities in stronger sectors found correspondingly higher salaries.

  5. NationalJournal: “Which U.S. Company Will Help the Government Send Americans to Space?”—If all goes as planned, the U.S. will send a crew into orbit without Russian aid in 2017. Today, the U.S. relies on Russia to move a crew to the international space station, with NASA paying $70.7 million per astronaut to travel on Soyuz capsules to the orbiting lab. This is $8 million more than a prior agreement between the two countries, which further weakens their already-strained relationship. NASA plans to choose an American business or businesses to support the development of commercial spacecraft intended to send astronauts into orbit, which was an ability the U.S. lost after the retiring of the shuttle program in 2011.

  6. FCW: “How to hire millennials”— One vital issue that the federal IT community faces is attempting to integrate the millennial generation into the IT workforce. Currently, this group trends toward the baby-boomer generation, with 48 percent of employees over 50 years old and 27 percent up for retirement in three years. The federal government cannot continue to disregard the millennial population. There are a few actions agencies can take to attract younger job applicants, including using social media outlets without overestimating its influence, creating mobile versions for organizational websites, and making greater recruiting efforts in our current market where job candidates today receive 12.5 percent more offers than those of past generations.

  7. The Washington Post: “Labor Department PR chief: Wasteful spender or promoting mission?”— This week, House OverSight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa demanded the Labor Department to provide records about “mismanagement and wasteful spending practices” in the Office of Public Affairs. Critics say the director of the agency has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote himself and the agency. In response, labor officials support the spending that was permitted by public affairs chief Carl Fillichio and claim it to be strategy to lift employee moral and notify the public about the agency’s mission.


DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder… yes, we’re trying to help you make your water-cooler time better too…

  • Are you discussing the NSA’s own version of Google? [SiliconBeat] The name’s not quite as catchy, but the NSA reportedly has its own Google, a surveillance engine called ICREACH. Reports from the Edward Snowden leaks have previously revealed that domestic spy agencies share information with one another, but the Intercept details the scope of that sharing — and it has legal experts alarmed. ICREACH allows the sharing of more than 850 billion communications records, according to the Intercept, citing leaks from Snowden, the former government tech contractor. The records gathered supposedly were of foreign targets, but as in other cases, that usually means Americans’ communications are being scooped up, too. Almost a couple dozen government agencies have access to ICREACH, which the NSA reportedly described as a “one-stop shopping tool” for analyzing communications. Experts are concerned that the information gleaned from it could be used in domestic investigations that may have nothing to do with anti-terrorism efforts.

  • Bloomberg Philanthropies Commits $45 Million to City Hall Innovation [press release] Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a three-year, $45 million initiative to boost the capacity of city governments to use innovation to tackle major challenges and improve urban life. To that end, the foundation has invited more than eighty cities with at least a hundred thousand residents and a mayor with at least two years left in office to apply for Innovation Delivery grants. Cities selected to receive grants will receive between $250,000 and $1 million a year for three years to implement the Innovation Delivery model, an approach to generating and implementing new ideas that has been tested and refined over the last three years in Atlanta, Chicago, Louisville, Memphis, and New Orleans. Grants awarded through the initiative will be announced in the fall, and by the spring of 2015 so-called Innovation Delivery Teams will begin using best-in-class idea generation techniques in combination with a structured, data-driven approach to deliver results for their communities.

  • Teams Can’t Innovate If They’re Too Comfortable [Harvard Business Review] Spark Camp is a next-generation convener. They engineer productive collisions of people to tackle important topics, through clearer questions, challenging conversations, and listening with curiosity.

  • How Social Media Silences Debate [The New York Times] A new study suggests that social media makes people less likely to voice opinions, particularly when they differ from those of their friends, the New York Times reports. The research, by the Pew Research Center and Rutgers University, also found that those who use social media regularly were more reluctant to express dissenting views while offline.

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