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FCW : August 15, 2014
A Senate panel grilled the director of a little-known Commerce Department agency in late July on whether it was a redundant repository for government reports and a middleman for agencies seeking to avoid complicated acquisi- tion rules for IT services. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee s Financial and Contracting Oversight Sub- committee, said Commerce s National Technical Informa- tion Service was using its charter to get around the Federal Acquisition Regula- tion (FAR) in order to pro- vide IT and other services to govern- ment agencies. NTIS has stored a wide variety of government reports since it was cre- ated during the Truman administration. The idea was to keep all the reports produced by the federal government in a central location and make them available for sale. However, the Inter- net has largely beaten that model into dust, with most reports readily avail- able from the agencies that produce them. 'Our goal is to eliminate you as an agency' scal 2015 appropriations bills were passed before Congress left for its August recess 0 Trending During the hearing, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), ranking member of the full committee, addressed a relat- ed question: the seeming redundancy of NTIS given that most of the reports it provides for a fee are available for free from other government agencies. "Our goal is to eliminate you as an agency," he told NTIS Director Bruce Borzino. Earlier this year, McCaskill and Coburn intro- duced the Let Me Google That for You Act, which would get rid of NTIS and, they said, save as much as $50 million a year. However, the Government Account- ability Of ce said in a report released for the hearing that NTIS has cost the government an average of $1.3 million annually over the past 11 years but that the agency had sold only about 8 per- cent of its 2.5 million reports between 1995 and 2000. In his testimony, Borzino said NTIS provides information services for feder- al agencies, including distribution and ful llment, scanning and digitization, e-training, knowledge management, Web services and cloud computing. However, McCaskill said NTIS has employed third parties to do some of the actual work for federal agencies, which allows them to get around the FAR s contracting rules. Furthermore, she said the General Services Admin- istration "offers most of the services you offer....We can t nd any IT services that GSA doesn t offer." Borzino responded that GSA "only provides the contract vehicle. We pro- vide a partnership, a joint service part- nership to provide solutions." He also told McCaskill that "we re not skirting FAR rules. Maybe we have a new model you might want to consider." "No one is subscribing evil motives here," McCaskill said. "This is about redundancy." Later in the hearing, she commend- ed the agency for being "creative in get- ting funding. To do that, you have come up with public/private partnerships that are facilitating federal contracts." She asked NTIS to provide a list of services that federal agencies can get nowhere else. "I think that s your only shot at holding onto this agency long- term," she said. --- Mark Rockwell FCW CALENDAR Cybersecurity DHS John Streufert will give the keynote address at this 1105 Media event on the agency s Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program. Washington, D.C. http://is.gd/FCW_cdm Acquisition DISA will present its 2014 Forecast to Industry, which details the agency s acquisition plans for scal 2015 and 2016. Fort Meade, Md. http://is.gd/FCW_disa 8/20 8/20 Legacy systems CIO Council Senior Adviser Adam Hughes and USDA Chief Enterprise Architect Betsy Draper are among the speakers at this conference on modernizing legacy IT. Arlington, Va. http://is.gd/FCW_legacy 8/25-27 Sen. Tom Coburn August 15, 2014 FCW.COM 3
July 30, 2014
August 30, 2014