Week in Review

A fresh start for procurement reform

The Acquisition Advisory Panel has delivered a clear message to the federal information technology community: Procurement reform is far from done. And there’'s a good a chance Congress might be listening.

The panel, mandated by the Services Acquisition Reform Act of 2003, recently published its final draft report with recommendations for improving how agencies buy IT goods and services.

Panel reports do not always have the intended consequences, or any at all. But this case could be different. The Democrats have promised to take their oversight role seriously — and not just when it comes to Iraq. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) made that point last Friday by changing the name of the House Government Reform committee to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Waxman and others interested in procurement issues are likely to bring their own agendas to the table. But the SARA panel report also could play a vital role. Based on 18 months of interviews with the leaders in government, industry and higher education, the report appears to present a broad consensus about what ails government procurement.

Perhaps Congress and the Bush administration will ignore many of the panel’s recommendations.

But even if the panel cannot sell policy-makers on its proposed solutions, it has done the community a real service with its thorough analysis of the essential problems. The group has given Waxman and company a rich textbook from which to work for the next two years.

Other noteworthy news

The Library of Congress added new features to Thomas, a legislative search engine, making it easier for people to find the information they want.... Government-affiliated institutions in foreign countries are targeting the U.S. defense industry at record levels in attempts to steal sensitive technology, according to a new Defense Department report.... Liesyl Franz will become vice president of information security programs and policy at the Information Technology Association of America, beginning Jan. 16.... Indiana's governor signed a $1 billion contract with IBM to modernize the state's social services eligibility system.... Adrian Gardner was named chief information officer at the National Weather Service.... The Agriculture Department's Farm Service Agency sought help from industry about how to consolidate more than 2,000 IBM AS/400 systems that operate in the agency's 2,384 state and county service centers.... Commerce Department officials began using a new $300,000 Web-based document tracking system, which the agency developed for drafting and managing regulatory documents.... Accenture completed an upgrade of NASA's financial systems, which manage the agency's $16.5 billion budget and 18,000-person workforce.... The Justice Department awarded GTSI a $42 million, three-year blanket purchase agreement for workstations, desktop and laptop computers, and related equipment.... DOD is battling widespread efforts by unknown attackers who are using spear phishing to penetrate DOD information systems.... Comptroller General David Walker said the Army has moved ahead on major programs that rely on immature technologies, a situation that creates delays and cost overruns.... An Accenture/IDC study found information security to be the main concern of government IT executives surveyed.... Computer Sciences Corp.'s Federal Sector business unit signed 110 previously unannounced contracts and subcontracts during CSC's fiscal 2007 third quarter, which began Oct. 1 and ended Dec. 29.... An inspector general review found that the General Services Administration needs to do more to ensure that its telework policies and procedures are fully implemented throughout the agency.

A roundup of the week's news, complete with links to the original stories, can be found on FCW.com Download's Week in Review.

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