The Department of Labor has sued Oracle over what it calls discriminatory pay and hiring practices. According to TechCrunch, the suit alleges Oracle has a “systemic practice” of paying white men more than women, African-American and Asian workers in similar roles. If Oracle is found guilty, it would be prohibited from winning federal contracts, though Oracle announced in September that it would not sell through General Services Administration vehicles anymore. Oracle denied the charges, and claimed they were politically motivated.
Writing at Washington Technology, former Professional Services Council president Stan Soloway argues that the government should “flip the table” when it comes to acquisition, and make commercial purchases the norm, and only buy custom solutions for specific government- or defense-specific needs. “This would include not only strengthening Part 12 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation, but also flipping the table on other government-unique requirements that were borne of, and relevant to, a very different era,” Soloway notes, taking aim at government-specific cost accounting practices that differ from the generally accepted standards used in the private sector.
The Department of Defense (DoD) has released a guide for using the “Other Transaction Authority” (OTA) approach to acquisition, specifically for prototype projects. The memo calls it a “tremendously flexible acquisition tool,” to help spur innovation. DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental has used the OTA approach, as has the Department of Homeland Security’s Silicon Valley office.
The National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO) has published a “Cyber Liability Insurance 101” document, providing an overview of cybersecurity liability coverage for public organizations. The whitepaper notes that it’s important for anyone buying IT “to have the knowledge and skills to identify and prevent risks of cyber breach in their procurement contracts; to know what to do if a breach occurs; and to proactively help their customers reduce the impact of a breach, should one occur. One of the best tools to assist both consumers and providers in navigating these troubled waters is cyber liability insurance.”
Frank Konkel of Nextgov argues that the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) dismissal of protests against the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Alliant 2 contract are “a big deal.” Konkel writes the dismissal is “essentially an affirmation of the ‘outside the box’ strategy used by the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service in devising Alliant 2.… Alliant 2’s contracting language combines an objective methodology—asking vendors to self-score criteria in points-based fashion—with a GSA-determined baseline for fair and reasonable pricing. Bidders are evaluated on capabilities, not simply price.”
Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber looks at what he calls the “complicated relationship” between outgoing Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall, and Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who has long been a critic of defense acquisition. Weisgerber notes that Kendall and McCain seemed to be on the same footing when Kendall was confirmed for the job, but that relationship fractured over the years as McCain maintained his status as a vocal critic. It’s an interesting read about the relationship between executives and Congress.