USSOCOM Fields Innovative Technology at SOFWERX

By Ryan Granato, analyst

Demand for new communications and network capabilities for both the Command and the operator are of the highest priority for USSOCOM these days and were oft-repeated themes during the recent Special Operations Forces Industry Conference. SOFIC has turned into the event where industry and government converge every year to showcase current capabilities and discuss mission-related technology challenges.

According to Jim Smith, USSOCOM’s acquisition executive, current communication requirements revolve around issues such as network visibility, assured communications and reduced digital signature to avoid detection in operating environments. Solutions that address IoT and edge computing complement the command’s need for a fully-connected and sensor-enabled operator. In doing business with USSOCOM, Smith emphasized the importance of utilizing SOFWERX.

USSOCOM typically fields new capabilities at a rate much higher than their counterparts. However, technology continues to advance at a rate that traditional government acquisition processes cannot keep pace with. In response, USSOCOM launched SOFWERX, a technology incubator of its own to increase government and industry collaboration through a variety of USSOCOM-hosted projects and events. Kelly Stratton-Feix, director of Acquisition Agility at SOFWERX, stated that the immediate priorities set forth for SOFWERX are shorter procurement cycles and increased support of small businesses.

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OTAs Are Heating Up in the DOD

Mark Wisinger_100x135By Mark Wisinger, senior analyst

Every program manager and acquisition professional in DOD has been leveraging the newest buzzword: OTA, which stands for Other Transaction Authority. OTAs have been in the acquisition arsenal for years, but Congress just recently relaxed rules and restrictions on their use, paving the way for OTAs to be the new hot method for rapid technology insertion and piloting. The Office of the Undersecretary of Acquisition and Sustainment recently has been working on an OTA handbook to help guide DOD acquisition professionals on the do’s and don’ts of this newly revitalized procurement method. It’s no surprise we’re starting to see the use of more and more OTAs.

According to Bloomberg Government, DOD accounted for $2.1B of $2.3B spent through OTAs in 2017. The Army has been a leader in DOD driving most of the OTA usage increases to date, concentrated in the Army Materiel Command, although the Army Cyber Command’s use of OTAs is growing. The Defensive Cyber Operations office, within Army’s PEO EIS is setting up a new OTA vehicle known as C-RAPID, which will be targeting rapid piloting and insertion of defensive cyber tools. Companies that sign on to the consortium will field between 6 and 24 Army technology requests a year for defensive cyber tools.

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Huge Opportunity Opens Up for Small Business on CDM

American flag on a wooden texture table

By Gina Brown, contracts specialist

The Continuous Diagnostic and Mitigation (CDM) program has gone through a lot of changes since it was first launched in 2013. And, each step of the way seems to make the program easier for companies to participate.

The program’s latest change allows companies to include Small Business to be part of CDM and play a bigger role in the program. As the program moves into its next phases, this could be a huge opportunity for companies that have not historically been able to participate.

What’s changed?

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Tracking government “openness” changes in contracting

By Jenni Taylor, manager, government programs and contracts

Federal contracting officers are moving towards more openness in procurement, which is a step forward in the cumbersome federal procurement process, according to Michael Fischetti, executive director of the National Contract Management Association.

Fischetti’s remarks came during a panel discussion at our recent Government IT Sales Summit, titled “Without a Contract, There Is No Deal: Updates on Contracts and Procurement.”

Contracting problems occur in government because contract professionals “are at the end of a long chain” of requirements definitions, budget analysis, time, coordination and approvals that Fischetti says often have nothing to do with requirements themselves. Despite that long process, Fischetti added that the federal procurement generally works free of political intervention.

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What you need to know about September

2017 may only be rounding into its final quarter on the calendar, but for those of us in federal procurement, it’s approaching its end.

September is the last month of the government’s fiscal year, which means that business as usual is going to go on hold for the next four weeks. Our customers are in use-it-or-lose-it mode with their FY17 budgets, and our sales teams are going to be working around the clock to close deals and win new business.

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Are commercial online marketplaces in the government’s future?

By Steve Charles, immixGroup co-founder

Proposed legislation out of the House Armed Services Committee would give the Department of Defense and other federal agencies the ability to buy commercial items (COTS) via online marketplaces without contracting officers having to determine price reasonableness before ordering. To make sure prices paid are competitive at the time, the marketplaces would provide all kinds of data to the government, including posted prices for similar, competitive items on the system at the time of sale. Suppliers would be able to update pricing in real-time.

DOD has long complained about GSA Schedule contracts, as well as GSA’s online marketplace, GSA Advantage, arguing that it’s not a real marketplace.  Product catalogs are not current, pricing is not maintained in real-time and many of the contractors lack strategic relationships with the manufacturers of the products represented.  Agencies put in orders on GSA Advantage, only to learn two weeks later that those ordered items are not actually available. Even people at GSA have told me that it’s much more reliable and cheaper for them to leverage the micro-purchase rules and use commercial shopping sites.

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What is the FAR?

By Chris Wiedemann, consultant

We’ve established by now that government contracting is one of the most complicated business segments to work in. Part of what makes it so cumbersome is the plethora of rules and regulations, all packaged neatly in the hunk of a publication known as the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).

This multi-part document, established more than 40 years ago through the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act of 1974, outlines all the rules and regulations that most federal agencies follow when buying goods and services.

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