OMB: Agencies Need Help With Old Problems

Chris WiedemannBy Chris Wiedemann, consultant

The cybersecurity challenges facing the government are well understood. Combine a highly federated environment, huge volumes of sensitive, classified or legally-protected data, all running on outdated legacy technology, and you get the government’s current situation: struggling to stay ahead of the latest threats in an increasingly dangerous digital environment.

Federal networks are very popular targets. The government deals with thousands of attacks each year – 35,277 in FY17, according to the most recent FISMA report. Moreover, the consequences of a successful attack are significant. Perhaps no data breach better exemplifies the dangers of lax security than the OPM attack in 2015, which exposed the personally identifiable information of millions of individuals to malicious actors and prompted a round of reports, recommendations and recriminations on the security posture of agency networks – as well as a renewed sense of urgency around security at the agency leadership level.

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What is NAICS?

Chris WiedemannWhat is a contract vehicle?By Chris Wiedemann, consultant

Over the course of this series, we’ve covered a lot of the ins and outs of government contracting in the IT and COTS space.

Of course, the government buys products and services across the full range of the American economy, in addition to its role in monitoring, reporting on and regulating American industry. That led to the need for a classification system to bucket American companies based on the service or product they provide – the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS).

NAICS codes, as they are known, are six-digit codes that categorize companies and are used by the government in different ways. For example, every solicitation that an agency releases must indicate a primary NAICS that the solicitation pertains to (and, in some cases, additional NAICS codes that might apply).

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Omnibus signed into law–now what?

Chris Wiedemannfederal budget, fiscal year, procurementBy Chris Wiedemann, consultant

Despite some last-minute dramatics, President Trump signed a $1.3 trillion omnibus appropriations bill into law last Friday, fully funding the government for the rest of fiscal year 2018.

Of course, with any bill this size (over 2,200 pages in total), it takes a while to fully digest the implications for our customers and industry.

That said, it’s never too early to pull out some early highlights – to wit:

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What is Exhibit 53?

What is a prime and a sub?Chris WiedemannBy Chris Wiedemann, consultant

As I’ve hopefully conveyed over the course of this “What is…?” series of blog posts, selling to the federal government is a complicated and involved process. It’s been compared to doing business in a different country, and in many ways, that’s an apt comparison. There are enough differences in rules, language and requirements that you can’t just bring commercial sales tactics to bear and expect to be successful.

However, there are some instances where those different rules work in our favor. For example, because the government primarily spends money that is appropriated from taxes, it’s required to show how it’s being used. Which brings us to agency IT Portfolios, formerly (and still informally) known as the Exhibit 53.

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How to capture more IT business from HHS in FY18

Chris Wiedemann

By Chris Wiedemann, consultant

I have worked with immixGroup’s suppliers and partners on a wide range of federal agencies and their IT requirements and buying patterns. And one department consistently stands out as the most commonly asked about: Health and Human Services (HHS).

Diving into the numbers makes it clear why. At $13.8 billion, HHS’s top line IT budget is several times bigger than other large non-defense agencies. And although most of that money goes straight out the door in the form of grants to state and local agencies, the remainder still makes HHS the largest non-defense IT agency in government.

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How to manage in an uncertain budget climate

Chris WiedemannBy Chris Wiedemann, consultant

It’s safe to say that, over the last few years, industry and government have both gotten used to a certain amount of dysfunction in the appropriations process. We haven’t had a full package of 12 appropriations bills since 2008; some combination of omnibus appropriations and continuing resolutions (CR) is the new normal.

However, even by those standards, this fiscal year has been rocky – a series of short CRs, followed by the first government shutdown since 2013. In the end, that shutdown lasted less than a day, as Congress passed a CR funding the government through Feb. 8.

This is good news in that our customers have appropriations again, and can keep the lights on for the next three weeks. If you’re lucky or were working on closing deals before funding expired on Jan. 19, those contracts may close during this CR. Unfortunately, there’s a downside to the deal: Without getting lost in politics, there’s a very good chance that we’ll be right back where we started when this current appropriation period ends.
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Is this the new way of modernizing old systems?

Chris WiedemannMGT Act, tech modernization

By Chris Wiedemann, consultant

If you attended the Civilian FY18 Federal Budget Briefing at immixGroup’s most recent Government IT Sales Summit, one theme should have resonated throughout: the new ways government agencies are approaching the old problem of legacy system modernization.

It can be challenging to separate rhetoric from action sometimes, but there’s real energy in government around addressing the challenges of technology overhauls. Agencies are taking a customer-centric approach to design and development, with agile methodologies and human-centric design really becoming deep-rooted in civilian IT groups – and, perhaps more importantly, they’ve gotten an assist from Congress in the form of the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act, which was signed into law as part of the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

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