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Contractor group seeks stellar performers in procurement

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The Coalition for Government Procurement is taking nominations for this year’s Excellence in Partnership Awards, which honors acquisition officials who have made significant strides in promoting and using multiple-award contracts. 

Nominations are accepted for the following categories through Oct. 1:

For contractors and government agenncies that have developed significant innovative solutions resulting in savings through sound acquisition planning and development, and well defined contracting requirements:
Contractor Savings Award
Government Savings Award (Civilian)
Government Savings Award (DoD)

For individuals or offices that facilitated open communication between government and industry during the acquisition process and effectively breaking down communication barriers to create a collaborative procurement environment:
Myth-Busters Award (Civilian)
Myth-Busters Award (DoD)

Lifetime Acquisition Excellence Award: Presented to an individual in the procurement community for delivering best-value solutions and who has demonstrated a long-term commitment to improving the federal acquisition system.

Best Veteran Hiring Program (Government): Presented to a government agency for promoting and executing a robust and successful veteran hiring program to the benefit of men and women in uniform.

Best Veteran Hiring Program (Industry): Presented to a government contractor for promoting and executing a robust and successful veteran hiring, teaming or subcontracting program to the benefit of men and women in uniform.

Award winners will be honored during the coalition’s upcoming fall conference Oct. 24-25 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott. If you have any questions, please email events@thecgp.org.

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Group ranks Congress on privatization votes

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A coalition of businesses pushing for the privatization of government work ranked Congress this week on votes that would have invited more competition between the public and private sector.

“We are seeing an unprecedented level of government expansion into numerous activities that should be left to the private sector,” John Palatiello, president of the Business Coalition for Fair Competition, said at a news conference at the National Press Club on Thursday. “In our free enterprise system, government should be the umpire, not the opposing team.”

The coalition’s report lists how each member of the U.S. House and Senate voted on legislation, amendments and procedural actions — 10 in each house — that would have allowed private companies to compete with government workers or impeded companies’ competition for federal contracts.

Among the Senate actions members were scored on were amendments that would have repealed the previously enacted government-run healthcare law and allowed private companies to compete with the Postal Service. Key House votes included amendments that prevented the executive branch from requiring companies to disclose their political contributions as a condition of winning government contracts and that would have removed restrictions on agencies’ use of OMB Circular A-76 public-private cost competitions.

Not surprisingly, Republican leaders, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rep. Paul Ryan, who is presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s running mate, agreed with the coalition’s position on key votes. On the other hand, Democratic leaders, such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi,  received goose eggs.

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Postal Service CIO coming back to work

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Key members of the U.S. Postal Service’s executive lineup will be back in their normal jobs as Ellis Burgoyne, the agency’s chief information officer,  returns to work next Monday, according to a notice on an official USPS web  site.

Burgoyne has been out since June because of illness. With his return, Joe Corbett—who has been filling in as CIO—will return to his regular job as the Postal Service’s chief financial officer; Steve Masse, who has been acting CFO, will revert to his normal position as vice president for finance and planning; and Cynthia Sanchez-Hernandez, who has been handling Masse’s responsibilities, resumes her job as manager of finance and planning.

 

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Your 2013 health insurance plan

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Feds, the time is quickly approaching when you’ll have to choose a health insurance plan for next year. Fed Times would like to talk to you about what is most important to you in choosing a plan. Do you look for a plan with a low premium or a low deductible? Does coverage for a particular medical condition or physician or prescription influence your choice?

If you are willing to discuss your decision with us, please contact Markie Harwood. Thanks.

Boeing awarded $1.9 billion to expand Navy’s air fleet

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The Navy has awarded a $1.9 billion order for more aerial reconnaissance and sub-hunting aircraft to Boeing, the agency announced Friday.

The  low-rate initial production award for 11 P-8A Poseidon aircraft is a modification to a previously awarded fixed-price-incentive-firm contract and follows two orders last year for 13 aircraft. The fleet will ” bolster the service’s anti-submarine, anti-surface warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities,”  Boeing said in a news release today.

Boeing has delivered three of the P-8As, which are based on the company’s 737-800 commercial airplane, the company said. The Navy plans to purchase 117 to replace its P-3 fleet.

Most of the work will be performed at Boeing’s facility in Seattle, Wash.

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Combat trauma training practices under scrutiny

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Members of Congress are calling for a federal investigators to look into a defense contractor’s use of animals in training exercises.

The group asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate Tier 1 Group for “live tissue training,” which uses animals to train service members on the treatment of combat-related injuries.

The Agriculture Department issued a warning to Tier 1 last month after previously citing the company for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act during training exercises in May and last August. The company did not use the right type of anesthesia on live animals during a training exercise and did not properly monitor animals to ensure that the drugs did not wear off during the exercise, according to USDA documents.

One of the citations was prompted by a fairly graphic video released by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights advocacy group, showing training participants cutting limbs off goats with tree trimmers and stabbing them with scalpels under the direction of Tier 1, members said in the Sept. 11 letter.

During the training, goats are seen moving or moaning, and participants ask for more anesthetic. While participants are not wearing military uniforms, PETA says it received the video from a whistleblower within the Coast Guard.

Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif. and one of the 11 members who signed the letter, sponsored a bill that would phase out the military’s use of live animals in trauma training and require the use of human-based simulation models. A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate.

Given Tier 1’s past violations, the company may have violated the terms of previous military contracts, members said.  They also believe there may be enough evidence to terminate a $1.7 million Navy training contract awarded to the company in May and permanently debar the company.

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Carper urges curbs on Postal Regulatory Commission travel

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Some seven months after inquiring about overseas travel by Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Ruth Goldway, Sen. Tom Carper is pressing some recommended changes for the commission as a whole. So far, it’s not clear whether the five-member oversight panel will go along.

In a Sept. 6 letter to Goldway, Carper questioned “the amount of time and resources devoted to international travel in recent years, particularly as the commission has struggled at times to fulfill its higher-priority statutory responsibilities in a timely manner.” He urged the PRC to limit such trips to what is “truly necessary” to fulfill its legal role in setting international postal policy. He also pressed the PRC to do more to document that it has explored other options—such as phone, fax and email—to conduct business before putting someone on a plane. Carper, D-Del., chairs the Senate subcommittee that oversees the commission and the U.S. Postal Service.

In a Sept. 11 reply, Goldway said she appreciated the “thoughtful review” and accompanying recommendations, but committed only to giving “serious consideration to those recommendations, which are in the spirit of improvements we have already made to our policies.” She added that the commission has come in “more than 30 percent” under its 2012 travel budget.

A PRC spokeswoman confirmed Friday that Goldway and two commission staff members are attending the Universal Postal Union’s quadrennial congress, which got under way Monday in Doha, Qatar, according to an official web site. Goldway is serving as deputy head of the U.S. delegation, the spokeswoman, Gail Adams, said.

Goldway, however, will be leaving for the event Oct. 3 and returning to Washington on Oct. 12, Adams added in an email. One staffer is already in Doha, while the other leaves today.

As Federal Times reported in February, Goldway at that point had taken 34 trips –11 of them overseas–costing almost $71,000 since becoming PRC chair in August 2009. Her predecessor, Dan Blair, had taken 25 trips worth some $59,000 during a slightly longer tenure. Since then, Goldway has attended a UPU meeting in Switzerland, as well as a weeklong “Postal Regulatory Dialogue” in Rio de Janeiro, where she was a speaker, according to commission records obtained by Federal Times. As of late last month, Goldway was the only commissioner to go abroad this calendar year, although some PRC staff have also attended overseas events.

Goldway has staunchly defended travel as relevant to her work and the commission’s role in helping to set international postal policy. “I know that travel raises questions,” she said in an interview earlier this year, “but I really feel that I’m doing an honest job and the right thing for the Postal Regulatory Commission and the country.”

 

 

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Federal law enforcement group urges lawmakers to cancel recess

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The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association came out today with a simple plea to Congress: Keep working.

“I am respectfully asking all members of Congress to holster their blame-pointing fingers, and get back to the table to come up with a comprehensive deficit reduction plan that won’t debilitate federal law enforcement,” FLEOA President Jon Adler said in a news release.

That appeal comes as lawmakers are preparing to trade Capitol Hill for the campaign trail as early as this weekend, with no plans to be back before mid-November. That will be almost two months in which they won’t be working to avert across-the-board budget cuts set to take effect Jan. 2. Those cuts would vaporize about $109 billion from agency budgets next year, including more than $3 billion in law enforcement funding, according to a recent White House report.

To avert the reductions, lawmakers and the Obama administration will have to come up with a way of reducing future federal budget deficits by $1.2 trillion through 2021. The assumption is that a deal will get done, but, of course, no one really knows for sure.

Adler’s also a bit frustrated with the Executive Branch. FLEOA claims members in 65 agencies and, to date, he said in an interview, none of those agencies has explained how they would handle the cuts, formally known as sequestration. The only official Office of Management and Budget guidance, which came out in July, told agencies to keep spending at normal levels “since more than five months remain for Congress to act.”

To Adler,  that’s like burying your head in the sand and hoping “the wave doesn’t sprinkle your backside.

“That’s not the way to prepare for a worst-case scenario.”

 

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Do you have what it takes to be the new FAS Commissioner at GSA?

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Have you ever read one of our many stories on the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service and thought to yourself “I could do that!” Well, now’s your chance.

GSA is officially looking for a new FAS chief after Steve Kempf took a 60-day leave of absence  in July for medical reasons. GSA said Kempf will be moving to a new position within the agency.

The job pays about $119,000 to $179,000 a year, according to a GSA posting on USAjobs.

Some of the duties listed include:

  • Holding to the highest level of ethical behavior and decision making as a fundamental value.
  • Supporting GSA so it functions as an integrated and synergistic enterprise.
  • Setting FAS strategic direction which includes disciplined inquiry into its core business models and fit with its markets.
  • Sourcing, developing, and challenging the current FAS leadership team and a successor layer of talent.
  • Positioning FAS as a source and sophisticated user of sustainable solutions.
  • Functioning in a transparent manner so customers, employees, stakeholders, oversight bodies, and GSA colleagues can all understand and be full partners in FAS’s mission.
  • Holding to a paced rhythm of planning, measuring and reporting necessary for responsible management of an enterprise of this size and complexity.

So if you think you have what it takes, then go ahead and apply.

Romney: Save $500B by cutting federal jobs, pay, combining agencies

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(Darren McCollester, Getty Images)

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney yesterday said the path to saving a half-trillion each year lies with slashing federal jobs and pay, merging agencies, and cracking down on improper payments.

Romney’s proposals largely reiterated planks in the platform the GOP adopted last month, and other proposals Romney and other Republicans have made in recent years. Romney, speaking to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles, said he wants to save $500 billion a year by:

  • Cutting the federal workforce by 10 percent through attrition;
  • Combining agencies and departments to reduce overhead;
  • Stopping roughly $115 billion in improper payments made annually by government programs;
  • And bringing government compensation in line with the private sector.

The issue of government compensation and whether feds are overcompensated when compared to private sector workers is a tricky one, and largely depends on which study you look at. The government’s own studies find federal employees are greatly underpaid, but other studies (including one by the Congressional Budget Office) have found that feds receive more, especially when benefits are factored in.

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