NCMA News Reel – September 21, 2011

1. This won’t be a surprise to anyone who came tonight to hear the speaker, but the Commission on Wartime Contracting finally issued its final report to Congress. Like all its predecessor reports, this last report focused on waste and fraud in contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan and the need to invest in additional oversight. Among the 15 strategic recommendations are: (2) creation of deployable teams for acquisition management and contractor oversight, (3) phasing out use of private security for certain functions, (9) creation of a permanent inspector general for oversight of contingency operations, (11) improved contractor performance data gathering and use and (12) strengthened enforcement tools. I hope everyone got a printed copy of the report. It looks great!

2. The Office of Federal Procurement Policy issued yet another policy letter to help agencies determine when outsourcing is and is not appropriate. The letter includes a lengthy list of functions that are to be considered inherently governmental and must not be outsourced and a list of “closely associated” functions that allow agencies more flexibility. It will become effective on October 12. Of course, it remains to be seen if this latest attempt will clear up the current ambiguities or just create new ones.

3. In small business news, the incredibly interesting, complex, and highly controversial issue of whether it is okay to steer contracts to minority and women owned small businesses is theoretically back, due to a 2008 Federal Circuit opinion. However, the price adjustment at issue in that case has not been used in over a decade, so despite the clamor for a FAR revision, it seems to be business as usual for Small Disadvantaged Businesses.

4. Underscoring the Government-wide need to reduce spending, the Undersecretary of Defense, Dr. Ash Carter, recently issued a short memo discussing the need to actively work to decrease contract costs by using a “should-cost” philosophy. As best I can understand, “should-cost” manages costs throughout the life cycle and challenges the DoD to do its best to beat the Independent Cost Estimates or Project Cost Estimates and other projections. I asked Prof Schooner to explain it to me, but he admitted he didn’t understand it either.

5. If you’re curious how we’re doing battling the federal deficit and debt, check out the new http://performance.gov website. Its features include transparency elements that allow interested parties to look into government spending in specific areas like IT, and a high-level overview of how the government buys things. It may be useful to the layperson looking for very general information but experienced acquisition professionals may find it to be more style than substance.

6. Because no month can go by without some number of big settlements, Accenture has agreed to pay a fine of nearly $64 million to settle allegations that it accepted kickbacks, unfairly raised prices and conspired on bidding on numerous Federal IT contracts. Settling and paying the fine allows Accenture to avoid suspension or debarment and allows them to retains the ability to bid on Federal IT contracts.

By Victoria Bohannan
vbohannan@law.gwu.edu