I’ve never been a fan of when agencies dictate the brand name to bid; requiring a brand name squelches competition. That’s the prevailing argument.
But a recent Government Accountability Office denial of a protest by Desktop Alert over the brand name requirement for an AtHoc emergency notification system was a no brainer, even to me.
The contract in the dispute was only for one-month and just meant to act as a bridge for the Air Force until a competitively-competed contract could be put in place. The new contract apparently has been hit by several delays.
Because AtHoc is the software currently in use, it only makes sense that the Air Force keeps using the software. “It would be extremely difficult and costly” to move to another software platform until the new contract is in place, the Air Force argued.
Makes sense to me.
“In light of the anticipated competitive award and the associated delays in the award of that contract, the short duration of the requirement contemplated by the RFQ, and the potential disruption and costs associated with shifting to an entirely new software platform, we have no basis to conclude that the agency acted unreasonably in limiting the solicitation to the AtHoc brand-name software system.”
Seems like a frivolous protest to me.
Posted on Mar 05, 2014 at 11:38 AM0 comments
When we first started talking about how we’d cover the president’s 2015 budget proposal, I wanted to start with a joke along the lines of the classic, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a noise.”
I know that’s snarky, but so often the hoopla that surrounds the budget release seems like an exercise in futility, particularly in the current political environment.
But there is no denying the depth of the policy statement that the budget documents contain and the priorities that will direct spending initiatives, whatever the final budget numbers are.
With that in mind, we’ve gathered some of the better coverage we’ve seen around the web. Think of it as a readers’ guide to the 2015 budget.
Obama 2015 budget: $3.9 trillion
Here is Politico’s breakdown of how the president’s proposed budget would boost technology, transportation and education spending, trim healthcare spending, while fully-funding the Affordable Care Act, and cut deeply into military and energy spending.
IT spending dips slightly in Obama budget request
First the numbers: the proposed budget includes $79 billion in IT spending, down slightly from $81.4 billion for fiscal 2014. The defense side of the budget takes the hit, dropping to $35.4 billion in 2015, versus $37.6 billion this year. Civil spending is up a bit at $43.7 billion.
But this piece by FCW’s Adam Mazmanian also explores the administration’s plan for IT oversight reform, which will add more responsibilities to the federal CIO’s portfolio.
Some of the oversight moves include greater use of TechStat and Portfolio Stat as well as developing governmentside website templates and making it easier to deploy talented coders and IT personnel from agency to agency.
Federal CIO Steve VanRoekel also wants more standards and policies to drive a “more effective citizen experience.”
Where are those cyber dollars going?
More than a half-billion dollars—$549 million, to be exact—of President Obama’s $38.2 million discretionary budget for the Homeland Security Department will go to support the continued implementation of the Einstein managed security service, FCW reports. The cyber budget also aims to charter a Federal Cyber Campus that would co-locate key civilian cybersecurity agencies to promote an expansive approach to cyber incident response. $514 million will go to cyber R&D, and $124 million will be put forward to support, expand and enhance Citizenship and Immigration Services’ E-Verify system.
Obama budget plan challenges cuts to training, customer service
From Government Executive comes a story looking at proposals in the budget to restore training and customer service initiatives, particularly at the IRS, Social Security Administration and Veterans Affairs.
New spending is called to improve online and in-person services such as reducing wait times for Social Security checks, and the creation of an e-benefits portal for VA.
Who gets more, and who gets less?
In perhaps one of the most relevant articles to federal contractors, the Washington Post outlines the changes in funding levels for each department, answering the simple question of, “who gets more, and who gets less?” There’s some good news and bad news; whereas the Defense Department will see a 0.1 percent decrease in spending this year, Veterans Affairs will enjoy a 3 percent increase.
Boehner, GOP dismiss Obama budget, Murray sees potential compromises
Roll Call’s Steven Dennis describes “the instant-reaction kabuki of party leaders” reacting to the budget announcement, including House Speaker John Boehner ripping President Obama’s budget blueprint.
The GOP sees new revenue proposals as a “nonstarter” but Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray, a Democrat, saw some areas for bipartisanship, such as changes to the corporate tax code to invest in an infrastructure package.
Obama’s budget seeks overall of business-tax codes
From the Wall Street Journal: The president’s budget calls for $150 billion in infrastructure funding – to come from a corporate tax code overhaul.
Why Obama’s pitch for $56B in new spending might actually happen
Given the current political climate, you might think that something President Obama calls the Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative that includes new taxes and new spending would die a quick death.
But the Washington Business Journal’s Jill Aitoro quotes analyst Loren Thompson as saying that the Opportunity fund as it’s called gives Congress the opportunity once again to avoid the pain of sequestration during an election year.
Obama’s $3.9T budget is ambitious
The Washington Post reported that President Obama is being ambitious with his $3.9 trillion budget proposal, seeking to boost economic growth while taming the national debt through higher taxes on wealthier Americans, nixing payments to health providers, and overhauling immigration laws.
Charts break down the difference between Obama, CBO budgets
In this budget breakdown article, Christopher Ingraham walks through two charts that help you understand Obama’s new budget, which Ingraham said forecasts a dramatic reduction in deficits over the next 10 years.
Posted on Mar 04, 2014 at 6:04 PM0 comments
VMware and Carpathia have formed a partnership that will leverage both VMware's dominance as a virtualization provider and Carpathia's public cloud infrastructure.
The two are launching a joint offering: VMware vCloud Government Service provided by Carpathia, and yes, that is a long name, but the strategy behind it is rather straight-forward.
The service is a hybrid cloud offering that will help agencies quickly deploy applications and workloads to the cloud, as executives with the two companies explained to me in a briefing ahead of today’s announcement.
The vCGS service is a public cloud built on VMware technology and will let agencies connect to the cloud through their data centers and other infrastructure running VMware.
“It’s the quickest path to the cloud for government customers using VMware,” said Lynn Martin, vice president of public sector for VMware.
The service is built on VMware vSphere, which agencies are using to optimize and manage their data centers.
She describes it as a “natural evolution of what they are already doing.”
Martin and Carpathia CEO Peter Weber emphasized ease of use as a major benefit of the service.
“It’ll be as simple as dragging and dropping what you want to move to the cloud,” Weber said.
Carpathia does about half of its cloud hosting business in the government market, and the alliance with VMware should expand that base. As part of the agreement, Carpathia will have greater access to VMware’s network of resellers and systems integrators.
“They are hungry for a solution like this,” Weber said.
One reason for that hunger is the expense of moving to the cloud when using other public cloud providers because applications and infrastructures need to be rebuilt, he said.
That doesn’t happen with vCGS because the VMware technology is both in the data center and in the cloud, Weber said.
This also helps avoid what he jokingly called the “Hotel California” effect, because there are a lot of concerns about using public clouds and the difficulty and expense of getting your data back out again if you want to move your workload to another solution.
The classic Eagles song has the line, “You can check-out any time you like/But you can never leave.”
Martin said vCGS is a lower risk offering because of the common VMware architecture in the data center and the cloud. And because of the ability to move workloads back and forth, the service also offers a lot of flexibility for users.
The two companies are submitting vCGS for FedRAMP approval and while that process can take time, it won’t limit the ability to sell to customers who don’t require the certification, particularly in the state and local and education markets.
Weber said he sees a lot of opportunities for development and test work in the cloud as well as delivering software as a service.
The way the two connected is a story in itself, but in a nutshell, VMware ran its own request for proposals process, narrowing down potential partners to just four. Then it went out and talked to 30 public sector CIOs. Carpathia’s technology and reputation carried the day, Martin said.
With the dominance of VMware’s technology in the data center being somewhere in the 90-percent range, it’ll be interesting to see how quickly this offering takes off.
With mandates such as cloud first and data center consolidations and closings and the push to drive down overall IT costs through offerings such as software as a service, the market for services such as vCGS is measured in the billions of dollars in the federal space alone.
Posted on Mar 04, 2014 at 1:21 PM1 comments