Section 803 Redux

The Defense Department wants no more help from Congress on procurement.

DOD officials are rewriting a draft rule about multiple-award service contracts to better emphasize competition, said Deidre Lee, director of Defense procurement.

The final wording of the provision — called Section 803 — should be published June 26, Lee said.

For task orders of $100,000 or more, Section 803 stipulates that DOD contracting officers must notify all vendors on a multiple-award contract or a sufficient number of vendors in order to get three bids. The question is: How many vendors must they notify to get three bids?

Vendors and General Services Administration officials are concerned that the provision would hogtie GSA's schedule contracts.

In part because of public comment, DOD officials are reworking the rule so that the purpose — competition — is clear, Lee said at a May 22 breakfast with vendors sponsored by Federal Sources Inc.

Notifying all schedule contract vendors is only a last resort, she said.

But she added that DOD needs to better police its procurement practices. DOD "deserved this legislation," she said, and contracting officers are taking liberties that could result in more restrictions. One tactic, which she called "unprofessional," is issuing a request on a Friday and expecting responses by Monday.

"We need to knock it off," she warned. "If we don't correct this, we will get help," in the form of stricter rules like Section 803.

Crusader Battle

The Army's Crusader self-propelled howitzer may be the most talked-about weapons system in history that hasn't done anything. And now that it looks as if the $9 billion system will be axed, the Army wants to ensure that those dollars are invested in other weapons it's developing.

What the Army would like to do — if Congress allows it to — is migrate "as much technology as we can from the current Crusader capture those technologies to accelerate the transition of Future Combat System non-line-of-sight components into the force structure as fast as possible instead of waiting for the Crusader to time out...or to be fielded," said Michael Wynne, deputy undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and technology, at a press briefing earlier this month.

Wynne added that his office has asked the Army's Future Combat System program office to identify Crusader technologies that can accelerate FCS and secure at least part of the money freed by Crusader's demise.

"And so we saw this as a tremendous accelerate the transformation of the Army by essentially converting that particular element of funding into these" technologies, he said.

2020 Vision

Pentagon officials have a new focal point.

The Joint Vision 2020 strategic plan was released two years ago in an attempt to define how information technology could continue to "substantially change the conduct of military operations." That definition will soon include a new operational concept: joint command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (JC4ISR).

Speaking May 22 at the International Quality and Productivity Center's Network Centric Warfare 2002 conference in Arlington, Va., Air Force Col. Will Gildner Jr., a member of the Joint Vision and Transformation Division of the Joint Chiefs of Staff office, said that JV 2020 was being revised to include JC4ISR alongside dominant maneuvers, precision engagements, focused logistics and full dimensional protection.

Gildner would not provide additional details, but said that a meeting was being held last week to discuss formally adding JC4ISR to the mix. n

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About the Authors

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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