Procurement Organization to Certify Government Contractors
Procurement Organization to Certify Government Contractors
The National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP) will launch the Government Contractor Certificate (GCC) Program in Arlington, VA, on October 12.
According to the organization, contractors providing a myriad of goods and services to federal, state, and local governments should have the knowledge and skill sets needed to interact effectively with public-sector buyers and managers. Knowledge and understanding of public-sector contracting laws, principles, policies, and procedures by suppliers can eliminate confusion, reduce procurement lead times, ensure quality offers and proposals, reduce protests and disputes, and improve communications and partnerships.
A certificate program involving 40 hours of training in four, eight-hour, core acquisition courses and one elective involving one, eight-hour, contemporary procurement topic will make up this new program for government contractors. The core courses include Introduction and Concepts to Public Purchasing; Legal Aspects; Sourcing: Solicitations, Evaluation, Award; and Contract Administration. Electives include Federal Supply Schedule Contracting and Contracting for Services. Contractors can opt for a program that leads to a special certificate or take individual courses available under the program.
The registration fee is $395 per course. Future course locations include Orlando, FL; Annapolis, MD; Anaheim, CA; Las Vegas, NV; and Fort Lauderdale, FL. For more information, visit the NIGP GCC Program site and curriculum: www.govinfo.bz/4205-291.
When it Comes to Competition Waivers, DOD Needs Guidance, Says GAO
According to recent General Accounting Office (GAO) findings, competition requirements were waived for nearly half (34 of 74) of the multiple-award contracts and federal supply schedule orders awarded by the Department of Defense (DOD).
Based on previous GAO findings, Congress enacted Section 803 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2002, which requires procedures to promote competition and provides when waivers of competition are allowed.
For this review, GAO randomly selected 74 orders at five DOD buying organizations. Competition was limited on the 40 orders available for competition. For 16 orders, only one offer was received in response to agency solicitations. For 15 orders, the buying organizations received two or more offers. For nine orders, contracting officials did not solicit competitive offers. Instead, the nine orders were based on information previously submitted to the government.
The GAO, a congressional watchdog organization, recommends that the Secretary of Defense develop guidance on the conditions under which a waiver of competition may be used, require detailed documentation to support waivers, and establish approval authority above the contracting office level based on the value of the order. The DOD agreed with the proposed recommendations.
Striking the right balance between achieving the benefits of competition and retaining contractors who satisfy customers is a challenge for the DOD. The frequent use of waivers to competition may be hindering DOD’s ability to obtain innovative solutions to the problems, and best value for the taxpayer, according to the GAO. On the other hand, requests by program offices to waive competition to retain the services of incumbent contractors are strong indications that contractors are satisfying customer needs.
EPA Awaits Public Comment on Earth-Friendly Purchasing Guides
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announces the availability of four draft Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Guides for public review and comment. The guides provide information to procurement officials for making EPP decisions that can help protect human health and the environment. They cover the following products and services: carpets, cleaning products, copiers, and meetings and conferences.
EPA’s 60-day public comment period will end August 30, 2004. Interested parties should go to www.govinfo bz/4205-292 to submit or view public comments.
These non-mandatory preference guidelines are targeted to federal buyers, as well as buyers who use federal funds. The guides are available at www.govinfo. bz/4205-293.
County Goes Live With Emergency Medical Dispatch Program
The Fairfax County Public Safety Communications Center (PSCC) in Annandale, VA, went live with its APCO Emergency Medical Dispatch Program (EMD). The APCO EMD Program is a system of medical pre-arrival instructions that telecommunicators provide to callers while waiting for responders to arrive.
Fairfax County PSCC provides dispatch services to Fairfax County, the Towns of Herndon and Vienna, Fairfax City, and Fort Belvoir. One of the larger agencies they dispatch, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, provides fire and emergency medical services (EMS) to a population of over one million with a staff of 1,528. In 2003, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue responded to over 90,000 calls for service, 61,536 of which were EMS calls.
Fairfax County PSCC, with a staff of 144 personnel including four lead supervisors, 14 assistant supervisors, 122 full-time employees and four part-time employees, handles 1.2 million calls annually, operating 15 call-taker positions and 10 dispatch positions on each shift. All telecommunicators attended the APCO Public Safety Telecommunicator I and APCO EMD courses in house. The training was conducted by Fairfax County’s on-staff APCO certified instructors.
APCO Institute, a subsidiary of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International, addresses educational and certification needs of public safety communications agencies. The Institute offers a selection of affordable training, educational resources, and consulting services for public safety communicators throughout the United States and in the international arena.
For more information on APCO, visit: www.govinfo.bz/4205-294.
Deadline Approaches for Innovations in American Government Awards
Administered by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in partner-ship with the Council for Excellence in Government, the Innovations Award is heralded as the premier public-sector award in the nation. The award is given annually to programs that serve as examples of creative and effective government at its best. Deadline for the 2005 awards is September 15, 2004.
All units of government—federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial— are eligible to apply. Each of the five winners of the 2005 Innovations Award will receive a $100,000 grant to support replication and dissemination activities.
For applications and additional information, visit: www.govinfo.bz/ 4205-295.
NIGP Awards Authorized CEUs
In an announcement dated July 27, 2004, the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP) was awarded Authorized Provider status by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) Commission. Only IACET Authorized Providers, who undergo a strict evaluation by continuing education peers, can award the IACET CEU.
This award means that all NIGP professional development seminars, including the new Learning and Education to Advance Procurement (LEAP) curriculum have been approved for complying with internationally recognized standards. Awarding the CEU approved by IACET provides a quality indicator of the programs developed by the NIGP and its continuing procurement education.
Just as a college credit from one university can be transferred to another, any organization has the right to accept or reject IACET CEU units. IACET is a well-known organization that is recognized as upholding high standards for excellence with regards to continuing education, and therefore most organizations will accept IACET units. To determine whether an organization or association will accept the credit, NIGP recommends contacting the group directly.
The Continuing Education Unit (CEU) was established by a U.S. Department of Education task force in 1968. In 1977, the task force created a membership organization called the Council on the Continuing Education Unit. The organization’s name was changed in 1990 to the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
IACET conducts research and development projects directed toward effective practices for continuing education and training, disseminates effective teaching and learning practices for adults, and educates the public about the CEU. IACET publishes the criteria and guidelines for the CEU, as well as criteria and principles for the review and enhancement of adult professional education and training.
For additional information on NIGP and LEAP, see the Web site at www.govinfo.bz/4205-296.
For additional information on IACET, visit: wwww.govinfo.bz/ 4205-297.
Grant Helps Ohio Police Department Fine-Tune Radio Operations
The Office of Homeland Security has awarded the Bexley, OH, police department a $236,000 grant to fund improvements to its police radio system. The grant will be funneled through the Franklin County Terrorism Advisory Team’s Columbus Urban Area Security Initiative.
Plans for the money involve increasing Bexley’s Law Enforcement Emergency Radio network from 400 to 800 MHz. to meet standards set by surrounding police departments. The increased frequency will allow more effective communication with other agencies during emergencies when phones might not be an option.
—Source: National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center.
Survey Announces Top 10 Digitally Savvy States
The 10 most digitally advanced state governments have been identified in the 2004 Digital States Survey, a study performed by the Center for Digital Government.
Sponsored by Hewlett Packard, Intuit, Microsoft, and Symantec, the survey examines best practices, policies, and progress made by state governments in their use of digital technologies to serve citizens and streamline operations.
Winning states were Michigan, Washington, Virginia, Indiana, Arizona, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Arkansas. Colorado and North Carolina tied for 10th place.
In March, the center invited state governors and their chief information officers to participate in the survey, which featured more than 60 measures in the areas of service delivery, architecture and infrastructure, collaboration, and leadership.
Winners received awards at the National Governors Association meeting in Seattle, WA, held July 17 to 19. City and county governments, as well as state legislatures, are also surveyed throughout the year.
Legislators Recognized for Mental Health Measures
For their efforts to improve America’s mental health, the National Mental Health Association (NMHA) has awarded four members of Congress with Legislator of the Year awards: Senator Mike DeWine, R—Ohio; Representative Tim Murphy, R—Pennsylvania; Representative Grace Napolitano, D—California; and Senator Gordon Smith, R—Rhode Island.
NMHA addresses all aspects of mental health and mental illness. With more than 340 affiliates nationwide, NMHA works to improve the mental health of all Americans through advocacy, education, research, and service.
E-Government Spending to Double by 2008
The state and local market for e-government products and services will reverse its dramatically declinging growth trend in 2005 and more than double 2004 spending levels by 2008, according to a report released by Input, a provider of government market intelligence.
The report, titled State and Local E-Government MarketView, projects state and local e-government growth will be moderate over the next two years as governments exhaust opportunities to further broaden Web site operations and engage consulting and research efforts to develop comprehensive plans for the next phase of e-government. By FY 2006, system operations will dovetail with wider IT market trends to outsource non-core government competencies, beginning a cycle of pronounced growth to reach an approximate compound annual growth rate of 30 percent through FY 2007.
The report notes the obstacles facing the next phase of state and local e-government are significant and include budget constraints, difficulty in producing measurable ROI, and jurisdictional turf wars where agencies must integrate operations. The combined factors will force slow and calculated expansion in the e-government market over the next two years but will provide a strong platform for rapid growth thereafter as challenges are overcome.
To download a report summary, visit www.govinfo.bz/4205-152.
Hoosiers Herald Free Access to High-Tech Tools
The State of Indiana recently unveiled a new technology program designed to give all residents free access to a full suite of computer software tools. SimIndiana permits residents to access their personal files and applications from any computer at any time.
“SimIndiana is the first statewide technology inclusion program of its kind, and we are making it available to all Hoosiers at no cost,” says Lieutenant Governor Kathy Davis. “This eliminates the economic barriers that have prevented some people from utilizing and benefiting from technology.”
The software features services for e-mail, file management with file and group sharing capabilities, and remote printing. The software also provides a free client download with word processing, spreadsheets, calendar and contact management tools. Users’ documents are stored on a remote, secure server and can be accessed from any Web-enabled device.
“SimIndiana gives individuals and small businesses a way to stay connected and informed by installing the software on as many machines as they like, allowing them access to the software at work, home or school,” Davis says. “This brand new opportunity for Hoosiers helps us advance the state as a technology leader in providing an atmosphere for our residents that supports their creativity and connection.”
The Indiana State Public Library, Jennings County Public Library, Indianapolis Public Schools, and the Department of Workforce Development have all volunteered to assist people in using SimIndiana from their public access terminals.
SimIndiana will be hosted by SimDesk Technologies, Inc., from its Houston-based data center.
For more information, visit www.govinfo.bz/4205-153.