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FCW : January 2014
January 2014 FCW.COM 19 it meets service, security, savings and other require- ments. A federal team would be equipped to monitor the provider and take action if performance falls short. That will happen at a scale that makes a difference as agency leaders apply a thoughtful approach to shar- ing in savings. ■ A better approach to professional services Roger Waldron The president of the Coalition for Government Procurement warns that GSA's planned changes could drive vendors away An initiative to watch in 2014 is the standardization of pro- fessional labor categories in the General Services Admin- istration's Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) program. Professional services, including those related to IT, currently account for more than 50 percent --- $25 billion to $30 billion --- of the pur- chases by customer agencies through the MAS program. It is a robust, competitive marketplace that works for customers and contractors precisely because it allows commercial rms to offer, price and administer their professional services con- sistent with their standard commercial practices. However, the Federal Acquisition Service's idea of standardizing labor catego- ries for professional services would be a radical change. It means the government would establish the catego- ries, including the speci c quali cations and skills associated with each, across each professional services schedule. Why is that problematic? There are several reasons. It is a price-driven rather than value-driven approach --- in essence, lowest price, techni- cally acceptable by other means. In terms of best-value solutions, it would limit the ability and exibility of MAS contractors to offer an array of services and capa- bilities to meet customer needs. Standardized labor categories would further move the federal procure- ment market away from the commercial market --- and that detachment would reduce competition and limit the supply chain. In its efforts to drive down labor rates through standardization, GSA would instead drive a brain drain from the federal marketplace for professional services --- a drain that would have long- term negative rami cations for customer agencies and the American people. The only potentially good news is that GSA would be required to go through a rule-making process to properly execute the new approach. Perhaps the rule- making process could lead to a conversation among all stakeholders on more effective ways to enhance the MAS program's ability to deliver best-value solutions to customer agencies. ■ ror organizations, we're going to see those types operating more actively. Unfortunately, I think organizationally the way the actors operate is going to change before [we do], and it's going to cause a lot of problems for people." Beyond mobility, the other hot trend in IT is the cloud, which will present increasingly worrisome threats as more agencies and companies move their data into virtual environments. "Cloud in particular has a small num- ber of players in critical infrastructure because they will support everyone, whether they know it or not," Kurtz said. "It's useful but challenging because cloud infrastructure is incredibly com- plex and...not easily defended. I think we have a very long way to go." Initiatives to bolster cybersecurity will be crucial. But there is cautious optimism about the efforts already underway. "We're raising the bar for our criti- cal infrastructure, but this is not going to solve all of our problems," said Michael Daniel, White House cyber- security coordinator. "Particularly, it will not address persistent advanced threats we face. So the things I think we need to look at, particularly in the [research and development] world, are how you fundamentally change this game. In the long term, we actually need to think about things like what we're doing beyond the [NIST] frame- work that are going to fundamentally change the equation as we face these threats in cyberspace." ■ • Mark Amtower on feds' use of LinkedIn • Alan Balutis on political prospects • Bill Cull on big data • Angel Diaz on open standards • Dave Powner on GAO oversight MORE ON FCW.COM