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FCW : February 2015
Federal employees who feel like a punching bag when it comes to public opinion can at least be assured of one thing: Americans like Congress even less. A January Pew Research Center poll, for example, asked about eight well-known agencies, and even the Internal Revenue Service — not exactly known for making citizens’ lives easier — was viewed favorably almost as often (45 per- cent) as unfavorably (48 percent). When Pew researchers asked the same question about Congress in December, 71 percent had an unfavorable view of the legislative branch. And in a subsequent survey, 71 percent said they expected the two parties to “bicker and oppose one another” even more than usual in 2015. The dismal approval ratings make sense: Congress hasn’t passed a budget or moved real appropriations in years, and “oversight” is too often code for politi- cal theater and partisan witness-grilling. For those who need those appro- priations and are subject to said oversight, it’s all too easy to caricature Congress (as we do on Page 11) as something between a nuisance and a medieval inquisitor. Agency leaders, however, know that working with Congress is not optional and that the real picture is much more nuanced. That’s why we devoted so much of this issue to IT’s intersection with Capitol Hill. The new laws do matter — and so does the manner in which they’re implemented. Federal IT is also one of the rare areas where partisanship can be muted, allowing real work to still get done. And most important, there are individuals on the Hill — just as there are throughout federal IT — who care deeply about using technology to make government work better. (Four of this year’s Fed- eral 100 winners, in fact, hail from Congress. You can find the full list at FCW.com/fed100.) Those partners, and the possible common ground, are worth the attention. — Troy K. Schneider email@example.com @troyschneider EDITOR’S NOTE Trending controls are included in the draft FedRAMP high-impact baseline 458 10 February 2015 FCW.COM Should you really care about Congress? The Defense Health Agency is in the final stages of developing a solicitation for an indefinite-delivery, indefinite- quantity IT services contract worth as much as $10 billion over five years. The agency will hold its last industry day for the Health Information Tech- nology Services IDIQ contract on Feb. 17, said Col. Scott Svabek, DHA’s act- ing director of procurement, during a Jan. 22 panel discussion on federal pro- curement and small business sponsored by AFCEA DC. The final solicitation is expected in the third quarter of 2015. The contract will be a follow-on to an IT support contract called Sys- tems Integration, Design, Development, Operations and Maintenance Services, which expires at the end of 2015. DHA is responsible for manag- ing enterprisewide support of DOD’s medical mission, including the estab- lishment of shared services and the introduction of common business and clinical processes across the Military Health System. Svabek said he turned to the broad IDIQ contract option rather than an existing governmentwide acquisition contract because of the fees GWACs charge and the fact that he would have to cede control to other agencies whose goals might not match his own. “I wanted to bring it back in house,” he said, noting that DHA spent $14 mil- lion in usage fees last year. “It may be arrogance on my part, but I don’t want to be held to others’ restrictions and protests.” Other panel members said small companies’ success in seeking new contracts hinges on their ability to talk specifics with agencies not only about their products but about how those products can be applied to agen- cies’ specific projects. Mitchell Ross, director of the Acqui- sition and Grants Office at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administra- tion, said small-business contractors “have to provide something of interest” in response to requests for informa- tion on projects, instead of supplying canned marketing materials that pro- vide few if any specifics on how their firms’ technology could be of use. Kathleen Gregory, procurement ana- lyst and small-business specialist at the Immigration and Customs Enforce- ment agency, agreed. “Everyone does IT,” she said. “Match our mission.” — Mark Rockwell DHA readies $10 billion IT contract APIMAGES 0215fcw_003-011.indd 10 1/28/15 11:58 AM
March 15, 2015