Timing is Everything

Imagine implementing rules for competing task orders under multiple-award contracts at the tail end of the government's fiscal year — the so-called busy buying season when agencies rush to spend their "use it or lose it" funds.

Bush administration officials, having given it some thought, decided it wouldn't be a pretty picture.

The mandate in question, generally referred to as Section 803 because of the corresponding section in the fiscal 2002 Defense authorization bill, required that DOD write a rule that would encourage competition among task orders that use multiple-award contracts. It stipulated that the rule be in place by late June.

That deadline, however, quickly passed after the White House sought to add a provision that would have restricted time and labor buys on the General Services Administration's schedule contracts.

When that issue was resolved last month, many expected the final wording of the rule to be issued soon. But industry officials say that they now hear that Section 803 will not be implemented until the start of the government's new fiscal year on Oct. 1.

"It would cause such chaos," one industry official said.

Videoconferencing Reality

Michael Capellas, president of Hewlett-Packard Co., said the rollout of a secure, peer-to-peer videoconferencing application for the military is "a lot closer than anybody thinks."

During an interview with Federal Computer Week following his keynote presentation at last week's Air Force Information Technology Conference in Montgomery, Ala., Capellas said that if the government applied resources — a.k.a. money — to a targeted application, "we could do it today."

1st Lt. Charisse Jefferson, the conference's chairwoman and executive officer for IT at the Standard Systems Group, agreed that with a targeted application and funding, secure peer-to-peer videoconferencing "will be there."

"There's definite use just because of the communication from senior leadership to people in the field," Jefferson said, adding that the technology would also reduce travel requirements and telephone use.

Capellas said the military must answer the age-old question of whether to pay a premium to get a technology to market or wait for the commercial sector to do it. In this case, with proper funding and design, the application, which would add secure video to popular instant messaging applications, could be done in the near future.

Not surprisingly, Capellas said HP has received "plenty of interest" from federal agencies, including the military. Also not surprisingly, he declined to give details about where that interest was coming from.

Air Force Longhorns?

Seems Texas fever has hit the Air Force — sort of. The service's Standard Systems Group Joint Development Program (SSG-JDP) this month will start providing feedback on Microsoft Corp.'s next operating system, code-named Longhorn, according to officials from both organizations.

The SSG-JDP was designed to test Air Force-developed products against Microsoft's Windows environment, according to service officials.

Barry Hartmann, SSG-JDP program manager, said that this month, JDP Windows partners will discuss planning and get customer input on Longhorn. They are also awaiting military approval to begin testing in Microsoft's .Net environment.

In addition to the Air Force and numerous commercial partners, the Army, which has its own partnership with Microsoft, is also invited to next month's Longhorn event, according to David Horton, Microsoft's program manager for government requirements. 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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