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How do you ID and train your workforce performing acquisition functions, including non-acquisition personnel? Good question as I just posted DoDD 3020.49 to the policy page here on the ACE for Services. While this directive focuses on Operational Contract Support (OCS), it includes the requirement at 2.9(b) to do just that.
Mr. Terry Carpenter, program executive officer for NBIS spoke in DAU’s first virtual Hot Topic Forum held Wednesday, May 20. He was featured in the DAU Alumni Association newsletter. For those unfamiliar, the NBIS is the “Federal wide information technology service which will be used to conduct suitability, security, and credentialing investigations for all Federal civilians, military members, and government contractors.” It is operated and maintained by the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency and has been chronicled here on the ACE for Services as this newest defense agency (DCSA) was created.
It's out! CON 0150 deployed 16 October 2020. It will take you about 2 hours to complete, but it is the latest DoD content available for category managers as well as the workforce procuring services and goods for the DoD. The number of continuous learning points will be posted in about a month as we use actual student data to determine CLPs. Visit the Category Management Community for more detailed information devoted to Category Management!
First, with the Back to Basics (BtB) memo (also available on the Policy Tab here in the community), things are changing. I think more seats will become available for our non-acquisition personnel performing services acquisition functions. Last year we had 81 Priority 9s graduate from an ACQ265 (38) or ACQ265V (43)--slightly more once ACQ 265 went virtual. Currently, for FY21 there are 14 ACQ265Vs in ATRRS and 4 are just about full. NOTE: the schedule only goes out to 2QFY21, so I expect to see more offerings added after the new year.
If you are a non-acquisition workforce member, you're a priority 9. What that means is you will be waitlisted for any of these offerings until 1 month out. At one month out, if there's a seat available, it's filled from those Priority 9s that are on the waitlist. It's your seat now--you won't be bumped. The other trick is to contact DAU and attempt to gain a seat from any no-shows on the first day of class. Ask if you can get access to the ACQ265 pre-classroom work so you are ready for class on day 1. On average, I fill one seat per class this way. So if you are proactive and have some flexibility, you have a much better shot at getting into a class.
Here's my Second thought: With the BtB and the six functional areas streamlining the required training, more seats are likely to be available when ACQ265 is no longer required (currenly ACQ265 is on a pick list for Logistics and Contracting). This isn't locked yet, but it's my prediction (Stroup, editor, ACE for Services). Hopefully we still see contractiong and logistics professionals in ACQ265 as they find a need to learn about services acquisitions.
Third. Rules for use of credentials are to be written. The BtB memo tasks Human Capital Initiatives (HCI) with revising DoDI 5000.66 and a lot of thought needs to go into the policy about use, prioritization, expiration of credentials. My input on the matter is that re-qualifying ought to be something much more engaging then retaking the current exam (that should keep me busy in the future). You'll find the current rules on the DAU Credentials page.
I'd be happy to hear your thoughts! And a reminder that there exists great training for services acquisition that has no waitlist because it's entirely on line. ACQ 1650, ACQ 256 (that's the tools course), CLM 006 (soon to be ACQ 0060) (Cost Estimating), all OLTs, had over 2500 Priority 9 grads last FY. Stop by the training tab here on the ACE for Services home page for more info on DAU Learning Assets. Happy new fiscal year! Ad
GAO's Watchblog provides a snapshot of Government-Wide Contracting for FY19 with DoD at the top of the list. Out of the department's $381.2B in contracts, Services account for $189.7B versus $191.5B for products and Aircraft, fixed wing, leads the list of products bought. What else can we learn from these data?
Since GAO's 2017 High-Risk Report, their assessment of all five criteria remains unchanged for DoD Contract Management. DoD continues to demonstrate top leadership support for addressing challenges in its (1) acquisition workforce, (2) service acquisitions, and (3) operational contract support (OCS), which is defined as planning for and obtaining supplies, services, and construction from commercial sources in support of joint operations. GAO noted that DOD continues to take action to meet the demonstrated progress criterion—with additional management attention needed for service acquisition.
Watchblog noted an increase of $20B in FY19 over the previous year; spend on DoD services accounted for a ~$15B increase ($175.0B in FY18). Within services, the top categories were Professional Engineering/Technical, General Health Care, Logistics Support, Professional: Other, and Maintenance and Repair of Aircraft Equipment. That's a lot of Knowledge-Based Services as has traditionally been the case.
To promote small business participation in federal contracting, there is a government-wide goal to award about a quarter of contract dollars to small businesses. DoD in FY19 awarded $75.7B to small business out of $318.2B, or 23.8%, exceeding the department's goal. The Office of Small Business Programs tracks DoD's goals over the years on their Goals and Performance page. You can also find goals for FY2020 posted.
To close, while the data do not reflect spending on COVID-19 response, a Coronavirus page provides blogs on this topic including one on the Military's pandemic response.
The recently released, DODIG-2020-079 Report on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) Cloud Procurement presents the reults of the DoDIG review.
On July 26, 2018, the DoD issued a Request for Proposals to obtain cloud computing services using a single-award Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contract. The Request for Proposals stated that the contract would have a maximum value of $10 billion, over a potential 10-year performance period, if the DoD exercised all option periods. Multiple protests of the solicitation and more recently the award ensued.
I find the section "JEDI Cloud Acquisition Strategy and Key Acquisition Milestones" particulary informative with respect to single award Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (ID/IQ) contracts. The rationale selected by the USD(A&S) was use of a firm fixed price contract type. This was part of Oracle's protest. The DoDIG comments on this indicating that "regarding the firm-fixed-price exception under 10 U.S.C. 2304a(d)(3) (2018)" that the U.S. Court of Federal Claims concluded that the term “established” meant “at the time of” entering the contract. The JEDI Cloud contract left some future requirements open with respect to pricing.
DoDIG's Recommendation 1: We recommend that the Acting Director for Contract Policy, Defense Pricing and Contracting, consider developing and implementing appropriate policy to require some level of documentation and analysis supporting key acquisition decisions, including any legal reviews and advice, for contracts that exceed the $112 million threshold established by statute.
Feel free to reply to this post to discuss this and other points you find of interest. Adam Stroup, Editor, ACE for Services
IPPS-A is an online Human Resources (HR) system that will provide integrated personnel, pay and talent management capabilities in a single system to all Army Components for the first time ever. IPPS-A will improve the lives of Soldiers, and their Families, and how the Army interacts with them by transforming decades-old personnel systems to a 21st century talent management system. It will provide three essential capabilities to the Army: Total Force Visibility, Talent Management and Auditability.
A story in FNN reports Army National Guard moves to modern personnel system, gives soldiers mobile access. IPPS-A replaces the Standard Installation and Division Personnel Reporting System (SIDPRS), which was a giant leap in the early 1980s.
The system will also help the National Guard with the COVID-19 response. For example, soldiers can take a picture of a birth certificate, prove the birth of a new child and put it in the system without having to come in contact with another human and risk spreading the coronavirus.
The Army is now focusing on adding the other components (Active and Reserves) of the service to IPPS-A and building additional features.
Federal News Network headline from the annual WEST 2020 conference in San Diego reports on this initiative before congress for FY21. [Note: open this article to follow links]
The Defense Innovation Board in 2019 concluded in its final report that current “color of money” restrictions undermine DoD’s software acquisitions. According to the board, separation of software development into research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E), procurement, and operations & maintenance (O&M) appropriations and the use of cost-based triggers within each acquisition category causes delays and places artificial limitations on the program management office’s ability to quickly meet changing needs, resulting in increased lifetime cost of software and slower deployment. Further, modern, agile approaches used in commercial software development will result in faster deployment and significant cost savings when unconstrained by 'color of money' considerations..
UPDATE 26 June 2020: The Category Management Community is live. Look for Policy, Success Stories, Market Intelligence, BIRs/CIRs, Training Resources, Industry Reports and Organizational Newsletters.
The Category Management Community of Practice is a forum designed to facilitate the acceleration of the Department's Category Management efforts by:
UPDATE 12 DEC 2019: Coming soon, the new Category Management Community of Practice. Click on the title of this post to access the link to the community!
On Oct. 31, 2019, a President Trump Executive Order revokes EO 13495 of Jan. 30, 2009, which gave Service Contract Act employees’ Right of First Refusal with a successor employer.
There's a new poll available. What are your plans for obtaining a services acquisition credential? We would also like to hear what you think about credentials in general and the two new DAU credentials for services. Feel free to reply to this post.
If you recall the old poll, "Have you participated in any DAU Workshops for Services Acquisitions?" here are the results.
WSM002 Risk Management WS - 0WSM008 Developing performance Requirements for SA - 1WSM009 SOW, SOO, PWS Workshop - 1WSM012 SAW - 3WSM014 Acq Strat WS - 0Other - 1Never participated in a WS - 4Total = 10
Not a great sample size especially given DAU trains over 500 folks annually in SAWs (WSM012). Hopefully this community and the service acquisition mall (SAM) are providing users easy access to the information needed. But if you have a minute, log on and take the latest poll and let us know what you think.
DAU is initially piloting four credentials focused on performance in the areas of Agile Methods, Digital Engineering, and Acquisition of Services. For services, there are two credentials: one for a non-acquisition professional team member and one for an acquisition career field member. For more information and to view the guide, visit the DAU Credentials page and FAQs. [NOTE: Click on the title to access links]
DoD SAFE is a new service (replacing AMRDEC SAFE) to make it easy for you to exchange unclassified files (including FOUO) up to 8.0 GB that can't be sent through email. Only unclassified data is permitted. There are two distinct kinds of users that will be accessing the DoD SAFE system: inside users, who are associated with the DoD and have a CAC (Common Access Card), and outside users, which encompasses the rest of the Internet. An inside (CAC authenticated) user is allowed to send a drop-off to anyone, whether they are an inside or outside user. An outside (unauthenticated) user is only allowed to send a drop-off after receiving a drop-off request from that user. Read more under the "Help" button at the DoD SAFE page. NOTE: You may need to use Google Chrome for this service to work properly for you. https://safe.apps.mil/
FCW executive editor Adam Mazmanian reports the National Defense Authorization Act passed the House on 12 July 2019 with two amendments designed to promote greater joint oversight of the electronic health records modernization programs at the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. [NOTE: follow the link above to FCW. Click through the ad to see the article's content.] The amendments outline the authority to be delegated to a joint DOD-VA board being established to help oversee the projects and sets deadlines and milestones for achieving interoperability between DOD and VA systems.
DOD and VA both contracted to use software from Cerner [NASDAQ CERN, N Kansas City, MO] to remake their health records systems. VA is replacing its homegrown Vista system through a $10 billion contract with Cerner. DOD, under a $5.4 billion contract with Leidos and Cerner, is already rolling out the Cerner-based system called MHS Genesis, currently in multiple Pacific Northwest facilities.
MHS GENESIS, the new electronic health record for the Military Health System (MHS), provides enhanced, secure technology to manage service members, veterans, and their families health information. MHS GENESIS integrates inpatient and outpatient solutions that will connect medical and dental information across the continuum of care, from point of injury to the military treatment facility.
What are some good metrics that I should use for services acquisitions?
Development has begun starting with the fictional scenario (an IT Services Management Office) for this new classroom course. ACQ305 will help the PM or functional services manager (FSM) run an S-CAT I acquisition using the 7-Step process, services acquisition tools and best practices. It will also help experienced PMs to manage services vice weapons systems acquisitions. Look for ACQ305 student offerings next FY (MAR 2020)!
Since 2014 the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has increased the price of background investigations by 40 percent while wait times have tripled. In January, the Government Accountability Office added the Government-wide Personnel Security Clearance Process to its list of high-risk government programs and questioned whether NBIB (see https://nbib.opm.gov/) had an adequate plan to reduce the current backlog. Under a 21 June 2018 White House reorganization plan, the NBIB could be absorbed into the DoD. The Defense Security Service (DSS) is primed to take on responsibility for DoD personnel later this year and DSS is a logical DoD organization for the transfer of NBIB (yet to be approved by Congress).
ACQ 256, Services Acquisition Management Tools deployed today, 11 Feb 2019. This is a revised course based on ACQ255 that has been shortened to approximately 16 hours by moving the Cost Estimating module to CLM 006, Independent Government Cost Estimate for Services Acquisition.
Please be advised that you may still complete your current enrollment in the predecessor course (ACQ255) to satisfy training/certification requirements. However, it's recommended that you take ACQ 256 as the content relies heavily on the Service Acquisition Mall which recently moved. For ACQ 255, all required content must be completed prior to close of business on April 30, 2019.
If ACQ 255 remains incomplete on your transcript, your enrollment will be dropped with an attrition code of "Z" for "Other." You may register for the new ACQ 256 at your convenience. You may access the content of the new course from DAU's training center. Look for "Publically available course material."
To access the online learning environment, please login here:https://dau.csod.com/
CLM 006 is a three hour on line training course to help services acquisition team members to understand, develop and review an IGCE.
Cost estimates are necessary for many reasons: to support decisions about funding one program over another, to develop annual budget requests, to evaluate resource requirements at key decision points, and to develop performance measurement baselines. Do you need an Independent Government Cost Estimate? An IGCE is required for every services acquisition in excess of the Simplified Acquisition Threshold (SAT). You’ll need that IGCE to help defend your requirement at the Services Requirements Review Board (SRRB). Topics covered in CLM 006 include the current cost estimating and budgeting environment, cost estimating methods, the Acquisition Requirements Roadmap Tool—Cost Estimation (ARRT-CE), and an introduction to cost accounting.
The DoD Handbook for the Training and Development of the Services Acquisition Workforce recommends CLM 006 for the Functional Services Manager at Level I. More information is available on ARRT-CE as well as the Independent Government Cost Estimate (IGCE) Handbook for Services Acquisition on the Service Acquisition Mall
Annually GAO reports to Congress data concerning potest filings. This is Summarized in the table at the botom of this post. (Note: you can find the reports with a search of Bid Protests on the ACE for Services Community).
I find GAO's report of the most prevalent grounds for sustaining protests very useful. Of the protests resolved on the merits during fiscal year 2018, GAO sustained 15 percent of those protests.
GAO found that the most prevalent reasons for sustaining protests during the 2018 fiscal year were: (1) unreasonable technical evaluation; (2) unreasonable cost or price evaluation; (3) flawed selection decision.
In FY17, GAO reported as most prevalent reasons for sustaining a protest as: (1) unreasonable technical evaluation; (2) unreasonable past performance evaluation; (3) unreasonable cost or price evaluation; (4) inadequate documentation of the record; and (5) flawed selection decision.
So, #1, 2 and 3 in FY 18 were #1, #3 and #5 in FY17. Did we get better at documentation and past performance evaluations? How can we get better at avoiding protests due to those recurring top reasons?
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