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GSA's $5.5 billion stimulus plan

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Update: The General Services Administration has posted the stimulus plan on its Recovery Act website. The 13-page plan can be accessed here.

Original post: The General Services Administration just announced that it’s decided how it will spend the $5.5 billion in stimulus funds it received.

Congress directed that $4.5 billion go toward converting federal buidlings to high-performance green facilities. Another $750 million is available for building and renovating federal buildings and courthouses, and $300 million must be directed to renovating and constructing land ports of entry.

GSA said it’s selected projects based on the speed at which jobs can be created and hwo much added energy efficiency can be gained. GSA intends to award $1 billion in projects within 120 days and the rest of the work in the next two years, according to a press release issued this afternoon.

Money will be spread out across the country, and every state should see at least one GSA-funded stimulus project, the agency said.

GSA said a detailed plan has been submitted to Congress, several days ahead of the April 2 deadline required by law. We’ll have more details in coming days.

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Senate committee to vote on Berry Wednesday

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The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is scheduled to vote on John Berry to be the next Office of Personnel Management director tomorrow afternoon. Berry, who received few tough questions in his confirmation hearing last week, is expected to be confirmed.

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Is Treasury avoiding the TARP watchdogs?

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Elizabeth Warren, the chair of the congressional TARP oversight panel, thinks so. She told the Senate Finance committee this morning that Treasury refuses to articulate even its most basic goals for the TARP program:

We do not seem to be a priority for the Treasury Department… What we’re asking for is not rocket science here. We’re not asking for something extraordinary… we’re asking for the much broader articulation of what the plan is, transparency in the goals and the execution and strategy… we need Treasury’s commitment.

I’m doing some reporting on financial regulation this week, and Warren’s complaint is becoming a common refrain. The TARP program is probably helping banks. Some are using TARP money to increase their lending; others are using it to boost their capital reserves; still others are repaying debts. All of those are good outcomes for banks.

But does Treasury consider that a success for the TARP program? Warren says the department hasn’t defined its goals; so do some of my sources, and some members of Congress, like Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine:

My [constituents] don’t see the program working as-is. The credit markets are still tight… and what I hear is that there are no specific standards for oversight… no clearly-articulated goal.

On a related note, if you’re interested in this sort of thing, here’s the GAO’s latest report on the TARP program. (It’s 100 pages — a little light bedtime reading?)

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Nuts about social media at HHS

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The Health and Human Services Department is tapping some of the same social media tools used to spread the word about salmonella-tainted peanuts to handle the budding pistachio crisis.

Already, the Food and Drug Administration’s recall twitter feed, which helped to quickly spread information about the nearly 4,000 products recalled during the peanut crisis, is tweeting about recalled pistachio products.

Other tools HHS used during the salmonella outbreak in peanuts could come into play as the department shares information about pistachios, Andrew Wilson, a Web manager for HHS’s Web Communications and New Media division, told Federal Times today.

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GSA awards Alliant contracts to all bidders

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At a teleconference today with reporters to discuss Friday’s Alliant contract award, General Services Administration officials sounded quite confident there would be no protests of the contract awards from disgruntled losers.

“We feel confident that we’re on solid ground,” said Mary Powers-King, GSA’s director of governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWACs).

It turns out, GSA has a good reason to be confident there won’t be a protest: no one lost.

But GSA officials didn’t disclose that fact at today’s teleconference. Nor did it disclose that the pool of eligible vendors shrank from 62 to 59 due to mergers and acquisitions.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Feds Fighting Flooding in Fargo

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For those of you following the rise (and hopefully rapid fall) of the Red River on the North Dakota-Minnesota border, the Fargo Forum has this story about how the federal government is using technology to do its part.

The Forum’s Brittany Lawonn reports that for the first time unmanned Predator drones are being used to monitor rising flood waters. The drones, which are on loan from Customs and Border Protection, provide real-time images to first responders and weather experts, helping them predict changes in the river. Here is an excerpt from the piece:

Greg Gust, a warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said the confidence with which forecasters can say the river has crested stems from images obtained by Predator drones flying over the river valley Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

‘Our river forecasters are not only able to see in real time the aerial extent of the water, but the flows going over land and all these breakouts, and actually measure that from those flights, which means getting an incredible handle on all that water we didn’t know where it was,’ Gust said.

Full disclosure, Lawonn is a friend and fellow Boston University alumna.

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1-800-FRAUD

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Well, not exactly. But the Government Accountability Office has set up a hotline to track stimulus fraud, and the agency is asking everyone — feds, contractors and private citizens — to report waste and abuse.

GAO is one of the agencies tasked with overseeing billions of dollars in stimulus spending, which would be a difficult task even if the agency had no other responsibilities.

“The public can help to identify improper activities or weaknesses in programs that warrant scrutiny,” said Gene Dodaro, the acting comptroller general.

Here’s the contact information for FraudNet, GAO’s new hotline:

By phone: 1-800-424-5454

By fax: 202-512-3086

By e-mail: fraudnet@gao.gov

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GSA's John Johnson to retire

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With the award of the General Services Administration’s Alliant contract behind him, the head of the agency’s Integrated Technology Services Office says now is the right time to bow out.

ITS commissioner John Johnson will retire on May 2, completing a 33 year government career, the last nine of which were spent at GSA. As ITS commissioner, he oversaw GSA’s multibillion suite of IT contracts.

In a teleconference with reporters today, Johnson said a future in the private sector is likely, but that he isn’t sure where. Johnson had announced his retirement to his staff via email earlier in the morning.

Johnson will be replaced at ITS by Ed O’Hare, the chief information officer for GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service.

GSA Chooses 59 firms for Alliant

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The General Services Administration has chosen 59 of the 62 bidders for its $50 billion Alliant information technology contract, the agency announced today.

This could be the start of another round of protests for the already protest-plagued procurement.

This time last year, a federal court upheld the protest of eight bidders that claimed GSA didn’t properly evaluate their bids. All eight of those protesters were awarded contracts this time around, but it’s not clear if the losing bidders will seek to protest this latest decision.

The awardees are:
1. Abacus Technology Corporation
2. Accenture National Security Services, LLC
3. Advanced Management Technology, Inc.
4. Advanced Technology Systems, Inc.
5. Alion Science and Technology Corporation
6. Alliant Solutions, LLC
7. American Systems Corporation
8. Analytical Services, Inc.
9. Apptis, Inc.
10. ARINC Engineering Services, LLC
11. ARTEL, Inc.
12. AT&T Government Solutions, Inc.
13. BAE Systems Information Technology, Inc.
14. BAE Systems Science and Technology, Inc.
15. BearingPoint, Inc.
16. Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc.
17. CACI, Inc. – Federal
18. Centech Group, Inc., The
19. CGI Federal, Inc.
20. Client Network Services, Inc.
21. Communication Technologies, Inc.
22. Computer Sciences Corporation
23. Dynamics Research Corporation
24. Electronic Data Systems, LLC
25. Engineering and Professional Services, Inc.
26. Federal Network Systems, LLC
27. General Dynamics One Source, LLC
28. Harris Corporation
29. Honeywell Technology Solutions, Inc.
30. INDUS Corporation
31. International Business Machines Corporation
32. ITS Corporation
33. Keane Federal Systems, Inc.
34. L-3 Services, Inc.
35. LGS Innovations, LLC
36. Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems, Inc.
37. MacAulay-Brown, Inc.
38. ManTech Advanced Systems International Corporation
39. McNeil Technologies, Inc.
40. NCI Information Systems, Inc.
41. Nortel Government Solutions, Inc.
42. Perot Systems Government Services, Inc.
43. Professional Software Engineering, Inc.
44. Raytheon Company
45. Science Applications International Corporation
46. Serco, Inc.
47. Smartronix, Inc.
48. Southwest Research Institute
49. Stanley Associates, Inc.
50. STG, Inc.
51. SYS (DBA SYS Technologies, Inc.)
52. Systems Research and Applications Corporation
53. TASC, Inc.
54. TKC Communications, LLC
55. Trantech, Inc. (DBA T3 Alliance)
56. TYBRIN Corporation
57. Unisys Corporation
58. Vangent, Inc.
59. Wyle Information Systems, LLC

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Lawmakers say stop outsourcing

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More lawmakers are calling on the Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget to stop public-private competitions for federal work, which are conducted under OMB Circular A-76.

House Armed Services Committee chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo. and Readiness Subcommittee chairman Solomon Ortiz, D-Texas, sent a pair of letters to OMB Director Peter Orszag and Defense Secretary Robert Gates on March 26. The letters urge them to stop using the circular and to conduct a review of competitive sourcing to ensure it’s the right thing for the government. 

The two House Democrats believe that competitive sourcing has become “a mandate in recent years for pushing more and more work into the private sector, even work that is closely associated with inherently governmental functions, in order to meet arbitrary competition goals.”

The lawmakers wrote:

Many of the Department’s A-76 studies have dragged on far beyond the time limits authorized in the 2003 revised Circular A-76, as well as those imposed by statute.  This creates an unfair strain on the federal employees whose jobs are being competed, as well as the contractors who have submitted bids for the work.

They noted that many military service leaders have asked DoD to cancel competitions under their command because the installation has an alternative approach or because the study was inappropriate, “only to be denied by the Department.” 

Skelton and Ortiz also cite the fact that President Barack Obama declared on March 4 that his administration “will stop outsourcing services that should be performed by the government.”

The call comes two days after the U.S. Military Academy announced that more than 300 public works jobs there would go to the private sector. The lawmakers representing those workers sent letters to Gates on March 18 asking him to cancel the competition before a decision was made.

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