News in Brief

Signing up for OASIS, struggling to count contractors and more

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Army signs on for OASIS

The Army has signed a memorandum of understanding to use the General Services Administration's One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services contracts.

The OASIS contracts cover "total solution" procurement of complex professional services, GSA officials said in a statement.

"In fiscal year 2014, the U.S. Army's procurement spend was nearly 17 percent, or $74.3 billion of the total federal spend," said Harry Hallock, the Army's deputy assistant secretary for procurement, in the GSA statement. "There are a lot of vendors who want to contract with us."

He said OASIS would help the Army minimize duplication on low-risk, stand-alone and indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts, and give Army officials more insight into associated spending information, including volume, labor types and costs.

The Army joins the Air Force as big OASIS customers. The Air Force embraced the GSA contracting vehicle in late 2013, with the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center committing to the OASIS Small Business contract instead of its own SMC Technical Support program. At the time, GSA estimated the value of the commitment, which encompasses nearly all systems engineering and technical assistance activities at Los Angeles Air Force Base, at $472 million over five years.

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida also announced they would use OASIS Small Business.

CBO: No way to count size of federal contractor workforce

There is no total headcount for the government contractor workforce, according to a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office.

Federal agencies spent $500 billion on contracted products and services in fiscal 2012, the latest year for which comprehensive data is available, and the IT and communications services category in particular has increased significantly. CBO found, however, that "neither [the Federal Procurement Data System] nor any other source reports the size of the total labor force funded by federal contracts," and cautioned that even the dollar figure "should be considered approximate."

Defense Department spending on IT and communications services grew from $9.2 billion in 2000 to $16.8 billion in 2012, an increase of more than 80 percent. On the civilian side, spending on such contracts rose from $10.3 billion in 2000 to $17.6 billion in 2012, an increase of 71 percent.

However, IT showed only the second steepest growth spike. Growth in spending on professional, administrative and management services grew 146 percent from 2000 to 2012, with 129 percent growth at defense agencies and 173 percent growth at non-DOD agencies.

U.S., Canada sign cross-border security agreement

The U.S. and Canada signed a new agreement that allows customs agents to work in each other's country.

Canadian Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson signed a new preclearance agreement that will allow customs inspections to be done away from border facilities, potentially ending snarls at border screening sites.

The capabilities have been in place for select airports in Toronto, Vancouver and other cities under a trial effort. At those airports, Canadian passengers can clear U.S. customs before departure.

The agreement also allows border agents to carry firearms in both countries and authorizes an exploration into whether to allow co-location of customs facilities at small and remote ports.

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