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New OMB adviser in line to replace procurement chief

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Word around town is that Joseph Jordan, an associate administrator at the Small Business Administration, has been tapped to replace outgoing Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Dan Gordon.

The Office of Management and Budget won’t confirm that Jordan is the nominee for Gordon’s job, which requires Senate confirmation. But
Jordan has been named as a senior adviser to Jeff Zients, the federal Chief Performance Officer and OMB’s deputy director for management.

Jordan will start advising Zients and his senior staff on policy and procurement matters this month. Jordan did not respond to requests for an interview.

Being brought on as a senior adviser is a common first step before being nominated to a position like this. In the meantime, OFPP Deputy Administrator Lesley Field will serve as acting administrator starting Jan. 1.

Gordon announced last month that he will leave his post later this year to become associate dean for government contracts law at the George Washington University Law School.

Jordan has been SBA’s associate administrator of government contracting and business development since March 2009. His team oversees
several programs and services that help small businesses meet the requirements necessary to win government set-aside contracts.

Prior to joining SBA, Jordan was an engagement manager with McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, where he
specialized in developing purchasing and supply management strategies for clients. He also worked in the firm’s public sector practice, advising state governments on how to cut costs and capture efficiencies.

Jordan also worked as a consultant at Corrigan Communications in Boston; built and managed operations of the Web-based publisher and marketer formerly known as Backwire; and was an associate producer on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews.”

Jordan holds a bachelor’s in political science from College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. and an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration in Charlottesville, Va.

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Tax hikes for the rich? Nah, let’s freeze federal pay again

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The chances of an extended pay freeze just went up even more. Politico reports today that Senate Republicans want to extend the current two-year pay freeze by one or two more years to cover the costs of a payroll tax cut.

President Obama is pushing Congress hard to renew the payroll tax cut, and Democrats want to increase taxes on the wealthy to pay for it. A bill proposed by Senate Democrats would impose a 3.25 percent tax on annual income above $1 million to cover its roughly $115 billion price tag.

But Republicans have consistently rejected any proposal that raises taxes for the rich, and the payroll tax debate is no exception. Politico said that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., told reporters yesterday that his conference is open to extending the payroll tax holiday, but that his party would pay for it differently.

Senate Republicans reportedly held a closed-door meeting yesterday where they coalesced around the pay freeze extension plan, along with possibly means-testing Medicare and Social Security benefits. Politico quoted an unnamed Republican senator who said that the gulf between federal and private sector pay has widened over the years — in feds’ favor — as a reason for extending the pay freeze.

The current payroll tax holiday is due to expire Dec. 31, and if it is not renewed, the average household could see taxes increase by about $1,500.

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Follow Fed Times reporters on Twitter

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If you’re on Twitter and would like to follow Federal Times’ reporters, here are our handles:

  • Stephen Losey, who covers pay and benefits, can be found @stephenlosey.
  • Andy Medici, our facilities and green government reporter, is @andymedici.
  • IT reporter Nicole Blake Johnson is @nicoledblake.
  • Sean Reilly, who covers government operations and information policy, is @SeanatFedTimes
  • And web producer Blair Tomlinson is @blairtomlinson.

You can also get the latest headlines at FedLine, Federal Times, and Fed experts, as well as contact Military Times’ crack database reporter Cid Standifer at CidMonster.

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89% of VA’s IT projects delivered on time

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When the Veterans Affairs Department launched a program in 2009 to monitor the progress of its information technology projects, VA Chief Information Officer Roger Baker thought he had set the bar high.

Baker challenged the IT staff to deliver 80 percent of all VA IT project milestones on schedule. At the time, less than 30 percent of IT projects were delivered on schedule, according to VA estimates.

In less than two years, VA has exceeded Baker’s goal.

Last fiscal year, 89 percent of IT project milestones were delivered on time, the agency said. The agency delivered 212 of 237 project milestones on time, including a pharmacy application to enhance the detection of potential adverse drug interactions and changes to speed processing of Post 9/11 GI Bill education claims. VA’s Performance Management and Accountability System (PMAS) tracked a total of 101 IT projects in 2011.

“It’s a massive example of a culture change that has taken real effect,” Baker said. “We’re there, [and] we intend to stay there.”

Baker expects VA will stay in the 80 to 90 percent range in terms of delivering IT projects on time, but Baker also wants his team to take some risks as well.

Shortly after launching PMAS in 2009 VA halted 45 IT projects and it credits $200 million in cost avoidance to the tracking program. Fiscal 2011 was the first year managers had a daily view of every IT project through PMAS.

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GAO: Communication key for successful IT programs

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When it comes to successfully executing major information technology acquisitions, consistent and open dialogue between program officials and stakeholders is key, according to a review of several federal IT programs.

The Government Accountability Office report identifies common factors shared by successful IT programs within government:

- Program officials are actively engaged with stakeholders.

- Program staff has the necessary knowledge and skills.

- Senior department and agency executives support the programs.

- End users and stakeholders are involved in the development of requirements.

- End users participate in testing of system functionality prior to formal end user acceptance testing.

- Government and contractor staff are stable and consistent.

- Program staff prioritizes requirements.

- Program officials maintain regular communication with the prime contractor.

- Programs receive sufficient funding.

Transportation Department’ Integrated Terminal Weather System, which provides weather information to 2,210 air traffic controllers and and flight support personnel, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative are among the seven IT investments included in the report. DHS’ Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative aids officials at ports of entry with inspections and has a total estimated lifecycle cost of $2 billion.

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Supercommittee fails to meet already-low expectations

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It’s all over but the shoutin’ for the supercommittee. Negotiations broke down over the weekend with the parties hopelessly divided over taxes, dooming any chance at finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction. Members resorted to pointing fingers at one another on talk shows yesterday, and the only discussions still going on are how to break the bad news to the American people.

Reason magazine’s Peter Suderman put it perfectly in a tweet Saturday: “Super Committee is apparently one of those newfangled indie comic books where the heroes think they have powers but don’t.”

This will mean — theoretically, at least — that $1.2 trillion must be cut from the federal budget under a process known as “sequestration.” Federal Times would like to hear from you about what this will mean for you and your agency. Are you already making plans for sequestration? What discussions have been going on in your budget offices? Are you being told to scale back your hiring in anticipation of the steep budget cuts? E-mail us at slosey@federaltimes.com or sreilly@federaltimes.com. If you’d like to stay anonymous, that’s fine.

Even for a committee that nobody really expected would work, it’s an ignominious end. Perhaps when they finally throw in the towel, the supercommittee should play this sound:

FedLine: Treating Congress with the respect it deserves since 2008.

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U.S. Postal Service extends contract talks with two unions

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No surprise here, but the U.S. Postal Service and two of its unions failed to agree on new contracts by yesterday’s deadline and have agreed to keep talking at least through Dec. 7.

Existing agreements with the National Association of Letter Carriers and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union officially expired at midnight Sunday. “The parties continue  to discuss a host of important and complicated issues,” NPMHU officials said in a news release posted on the union’s web site. “The negotiations are at a very delicate stage, and of this writing, it still is impossible to tell whether an overall deal is likely.”

“We have been working in good faith to hammer out a new contract and we hope that this extension will lead to an agreement that our members can enthusiastically ratify,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said in a separate online release.

Rolando, incidentally, has scheduled a news conference this afternoon at the National Press Club at which he will outline a new approach to employee health benefits to save the “Postal Service billions of dollars, paving the way for financial stability and preventing major service cuts for the public and businesses,” according to a news advisory.

The mail handlers union represents more than 45,000 USPS employees who work in mail processing plants and post offices; the NALC represents more than 195,000 letter carriers who deliver mail mainly in urban areas, according to the Postal Service. In May, the financially struggling agency reached a deal with the American Postal Workers Union that will run until 2015. Talks with the fourth major postal union, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, have reached an impasse, meaning a new contract in that case will be decided through arbitration.

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Sequestration: What will it mean for you?

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The supercommittee is shaping up to be Washington’s biggest flop since the 1961 Redskins. There’s five days left until Nov. 23, when its 12 members are supposed to come up with about $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, but still no signs of life. The supercommittee is going to work through the weekend, but each party’s leaders are now publicly doubting it will succeed — and are jockeying to blame the other side.

Federal Times would like to hear from our readers on what they’re doing to prepare for sequestration — the $1.2 trillion in across-the-board cuts that would (theoretically) be mandated if the supercommittee fails. Budget specialists: How steep are the cuts you’re looking at, and where are you finding them? Human resources: Are you preparing for furloughs, more early outs and buyouts, or even RIFs? Are your contracting offices preparing to scale back contracts?

E-mail us at slosey@federaltimes.com or sreilly@federaltimes.com if you’d like to talk. If you don’t want your name used, that’s fine.

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FCC launches cyber planning tool for small businesses

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A new online tool developed by the Federal Communications Commission allows small businesses to create a cybersecurity plan for free.

The FCC Small Biz Cyber Planner is a three-step process and takes minutes to create. After providing your company’s name and location, you can compile guidance on several topics — including mobile devices, network security and email — to include in your custom plan.

Once you select the topics to include, the site generates a custom report with a cybersecurity glossary and links to reference publications. For example, under guidance about network security, the plan advises companies to require security and auditing from their cloud providers and review and understand service level agreements for system restoration.

“The tool is designed for businesses that lack the resources to hire dedicated staff to protect their business, information and customers from cyber threats,” according to a blog post on FCC.gov.

The agency collaborated with the Department of Homeland Security, the National Cybersecurity Alliance and other public and private sector organizations to develop the tool.

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Senate to debate cyber legislation in 2012

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Senate Majority Leader harry Reid (Photo Credit: Sen. Reid's office)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., expects the Senate to vote on cybersecurity legislation during its first work period of 2012.

In a Nov. 16 letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Reid said that bipartisan committees have been negotiating potential language in a cyber bill for the past six months, but those efforts haven’t produced results.

Reid said if the working groups cannot agree on bipartisan legislation by early next year, he will welcome legislation produced “elsewhere” to be debated on the Senate floor. For now, the 2012 legislative session is scheduled to begin Jan. 23.

Could that bill include recommendations from the House Republican Cybersecurity Task Force? In his letter, Reid highlighted efforts by the task force as being consistent with efforts in the Senate.

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