Sounding off Against Section 803

Folks seem to want the Defense Department's proposed rule that would require competition on multiple-award services contracts to just go away.

Of the 64 public comments posted online, many suggest that there is little need for the provision, called Section 803 — referring to the section of the fiscal 2002 Defense Authorization Act that forced the Pentagon to create the provision.

Section 803 requires DOD contracting officers to seek bids from at least three eligible vendors on task orders of $50,000 or more.

The paramount concern is that the rule will drive agencies away from multiple-award contracts, specifically the General Services Administration's schedule contracts, which have been a cornerstone of recent procurement reforms.

"The new language removes the benefits of utilizing GSA schedules, thereby eliminating the streamlining of awards," one Defense Information Systems Agency employee said.

The phrase that elicits the most concern is the requirement that agencies give "fair all contractors offering such services under multiple-award schedules."

"How would this be accomplished without issuance of a synopsis, which would add processing time to the award?" the employee asked.

Craig Parisot, president of Bridge Technology Corp., a small business, said that his company has limited resources and therefore competes only on contracts the company has a good chance of winning.

"If a competition appears to be marked for a particular contractor or if an opportunity was merely provided or broadcasted to meet a requirement, the decision not to bid is easy," Parisot said.

NMCI Hurtles Forward

By the time reporters were called to the Navy Marine Corps Intranet's (NMCI) offices on May 3, there was little doubt that the Navy was celebrating good news — the large cake in the corner of the room gave that away.

Rear Adm. Charles Munns is receiving much of the credit for getting NMCI on track, despite just having been named the program's director in February. EDS officials heaped praise on the new director. The company is the lead vendor for the team that makes up the NMCI Information Strike Force.

Per usual in Washington, however, the question, 'What have you done lately?' rings true here. Despite celebrating the milestone one decision to move forward with the program, NMCI officials still have significant hurdles ahead.

The most obvious is the pace at which the Navy and EDS must roll out seats. Other vendors — including some that were competing for NMCI — note that EDS is 17 months into the 60-month contract. Yet the Navy and EDS have rolled out just 3,739 of the anticipated 400,000 computers so far.

Army's Crusader

Overshadowing the Army recently has been the debate over the Crusader self- propelled howitzer. So more than a few heads turned when Kevin Carroll, program executive officer of Enterprise Information Systems, started his presentation at Federal Sources Inc.'s annual Outlook conference last week by saying, "I'm going to talk to you a little bit about Crusader."

Carroll added that he was kidding. But the Crusader controversy could impact the Army's leadership. Army Secretary Thomas White, already under fire for his ties to Enron, is now in the spotlight for his efforts to save the embattled Crusader, which has been plagued with software problems, among other issues. Despite his own opposition to Crusader, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld continues to voice his support of White.

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About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine,, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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