Tomah VA adopts second improvement plan

The Tomah VA Medical Center announced Friday that it has adopted another plan to improve patient care.

The release of the “100-day plan” comes almost 11 months after media reports that veterans at the center were prescribed high doses of opioid medications and that employees who spoke out faced retaliation from top officials.

The plan, which follows a 30-day plan announced in May, outlines steps to improving access to care, employee engagement and restoring trust.

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Introducing the 2015 Fast 50

The Washington Technology Fast 50 rankings are now out. We’ve ranked the 50 fastest growing small businesses in the government market by calculating their compound annual growth rate from 2010 to 2014.

This includes prime and subcontracting revenue at the federal, state and local levels. And there’s probably some international public sector work in there as well, depending on the company.

The companies submitted this information to us during a call for nomination period earlier this summer. Click here to see the rankings, where you can view the Fast 50 and learn who are these companies with explosive growth.

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Centralization, consolidation reshapes government IT landscape

I wasn’t able to sit in on Steve Charles’ panel at the recent immixGroup Government IT Sales Summit, but I got him on the phone the next day to talk about the contracting landscape.

Charles, a founder of immixGroup, has kept his focus on how manufacturers, software publishers and cloud service providers are reaching the market. He considers them the top of the IT food chain because they create intellectual property, i.e., the commercial products the government is trying to buy.

What he sees is centralization and consolidation of both what IT is being bought and how it is being bought by the government.

This is changing the relationship between the OEMs and the channel as well as between the channel and big integrators and how they work together and what each needs from the other.

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Japan’s New Approach to Defense Technology

Western media outlets (such as the Wall Street Journal and The Economist) focused on the controversial security legislation Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed through the Japanese parliament in September. Yet Western media have paid far less attention to another significant change now well underway. In June of this year, legislation passed for the establishment of a new defense acquisitions agency under Japan’s Ministry of Defense. The new Acquisition Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA) opened its doors for business on October 1.

The purpose of ATLA is to bring together disparate parts of the Ministry of Defense working on defense R&D, procurement, and exports under one roof. The goal is to improve efficiency, and eliminate organizational bureaucracy and duplication. Compared to similar agencies in Japan’s peer countries like the United Kingdom and France, ATLA is small, at 1,800 people and with a budget of about 2 trillion yen ($16.3 billion). Yet this is a massive agency by Japanese standards, representing a third of the total MOD budget. Creation of ATLA follows MOD’s shift away from the 1970 policy of indigenous development and production (former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone’s kokusanka houshin) to its new “Strategy for Defense Production and Technological Bases.”

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Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award

The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award is the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for their support of their employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve.

Nominations must come from a Guard or Reserve member who is employed by the organization they are nominating, or from a family member.

The award was created to publicly recognize employers who provide exceptional support to their Guard and Reserve employees. It is the highest in a series of employer recognition awards given by the Department of Defense.

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VA Rolls Out ‘Innovators Networks’ at 8 Sites

The Department of Veterans Affairs is attempting to build a “culture of innovation” among its employees, beginning with hiring full-time “innovation specialists” for one year at eight pilot facilities.

Last week, VA announced the “Innovators Network” — a broad initiative to get employees to contribute their own ideas about how to improve veteran services. In addition to the new innovation specialists, each pilot facility plans to offer training in topics such as entrepreneurship and “human-centered design,” a technology-development process prioritizing ease-of-use instead of the back-end infrastructure.

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Going Beyond Jack of All Trades

The White House-driven category management initiative offers important new opportunities for procurement professionals.

For the first time, for example, they have a chance to specialize in and master specific categories of spending, in addition to being jack-of-all-trade buyers. Category management of more than $270 billion in annual spending on commonly purchased goods and services requires skills not yet gathered in any existing federal position description, nor taught in federal procurement training institutions.

More than ever, the procurement corps has an opportunity to deepen its relationship with the programs accomplishing the true business of government — its missions. More than ever, government buyers are expected to deeply understand their markets and suppliers.

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GSA launches economic development effort

The General Services Administration this week debuted an effort the agency said will help grow local economies by “better aligning GSA’s building, leasing, and relocation plans with the economic development goals of local communities.”

GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth launched the effort, dubbed the Economic Catalyst Initiative, with a tour of three cities where the agency is executing deals that are mutually beneficial to the federal government and local communities.

On Nov.16, Roth went to Detroit, where GSA will invest $70 million in a commercial building that the agency bought for $1. GSA plans to consolidate more than 700 federal employees from around the area in the single federally owned location, while freeing up commercial space in downtown Detroit for use by the private sector.

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Fiscal 2016 filled with defense opportunities

Defense agencies across the Defense Department have made their budget requests for fiscal 2016, and with those requests come a slew of defense opportunities for the contracting community.

Speaking at their Government IT Sales Summit on Thursday, immixGroup analysts broke down each defense agency’s budget request and discussed where the money is going.

Obviously, the Defense Department has wanted similar things from year to year.

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Acquisition Sun could be setting on DUNS

The federal government is taking the first steps toward getting rid of a proprietary business identifier it uses in its procurement processes and that critics say weakens open-data initiatives.

To track its spending, the government requires contractors and grantees to obtain a unique identifying code under the Data Universal Numbering System, which is maintained by Dun and Bradstreet. Companies and the government must pay each time they use the codes, which ends up costing millions of dollars every year.

Critics of the DUNS number say that continuing to use a proprietary code to track public information makes little sense economically or for governmental efforts to open up access to public data in new ways.

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