WaPo on DC homelessness

The Washington Post reported yesterday on increasing homelessness in the area.

In a region with seven of the 10 most affluent counties in the country, family homelessness is on the rise — straining services, filling shelters and forcing parents and their children to sleep in cars, parks, and bus and train stations.

The reader comments on the Post site as ever refreshes one’s faith in humanity. Or, you know, not.

In a follow-up blog post, Mike DeBonis writes that

The city explained to the Legal Clinic that the approximately $150 per night it takes to house a family at the D.C. General shelter is “better invested in these same families but for supports that meet their needs more effectively.”

It’s not entirely clear what services “meet their needs more effectively,” when their immediate needs are emergency shelter. Housing First, indeed.

Fixing DC Acquisition, from The Mail @ DC Watch

Running this here.

Government contracting is complicated, governed by law, regulations, and case law, and performed under the oversight of auditors, competitors, and the public. Still, the field of contracting, which should be among the most highly respected in all of government, has taken a hit, as the perception among many has become that it is mostly clerical.

What function in government could be more important than ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent fairly and effectively?

I am not confident that contracting abuses will be remedied by the oversight of politicians, who are anxious to put their fingers on the scale. The solution to the problems uncovered in the City Paper is strengthening DC’s procurement function through training, better hiring, and more accountability. If the council can do that, without involving itself in the approval of individual contracts, it will have done its job.

Obama just read the New Yorker at the dentist’s office

Or specifically this story from over a year ago: “The Invisible Army,” deck: “For foreign workers on U.S. bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, war can be hell.

A new executive order seeks to strengthen “protections against trafficking in persons in federal contracts.” Thankfully, Obama now recognizes that “as the largest single purchaser of goods and services in the world, the United States Government bears a responsibility to ensure that taxpayer dollars do not contribute to trafficking in persons.”

We obviously can’t rely on the big dou … err … defense contractors to do the right thing, but we also apparently can’t rely on federal contracting staff or program managers to, you know, understand and enforce basic human rights, and so Obama has ordered “Within 180 days of the date of this order, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council … shall take steps necessary to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation.”

So that problem’s solved, New Yorker.

Joshua Fruhlinger gets password frustration over at Engadget

I could not agree more with this Engadget’s “This is the Modem World: I hate passwords.”

Author Joshua Frhulinger asks, “What happened to thumb-print readers? I had a laptop a few years ago that used one and it was pretty bulletproof.”

I did too. If only there were an easy way to tie the fingerprint scanner to web passwords. Or use the webcam to do so. Or anything.

Passwords. Come on, technology.

Proposed rule adds to past performance requirements

FedScoop is reporting this morning on a proposed rule expanding past performance reporting requirements to include “valuation factors for quality of product or service, cost control, timeliness, management or business relations and small business subcontracting efforts.”

Clearly source selection is difficult for the government, and I’m sure it can be fixed through regulation. After all, it is shocking, _shocking_, that source selection in the private sector ever works without the expert guidance of the FAR council.

DHS proposes changes to T&M

Subcontractor labor can be the wine of federal contracting–who doesn’t want to get drunk on great margins? DHS, maybe? Proposed changes to the HSAR:

This proposed rule augments two existing Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) policies to create a consistent approach within DHS for awarding Time and Materials/Labor Hours (T&M/LH) contracts. Those two augmenting policies include the requirement for separate labor hour rates for T&M/LH subcontractors and the requirement for consistent practices for contractor labor hour records and labor hour billing.

Say what? The rule would require contractors

  1. to propose separate labor rates for the prime’s labor and for subs’ and affiliates’ and
  2. clarify whether hours in excess of 40 will be billed.

Question: Will contractors comment on said rule saying they hate it?

Survey says (not really): Hell yes.

Dear Professional Services Council, aim your outrage at DHS docket number DHS-2012-0050.

CR watch begins

The Federal Times is reporting a planned six-month CR would “set back critical projects.” Of course. But surely six months at a time is better than the day-to-day countdowns to a full-on federal shutdown, even if the Coast Guard doesn’t get its new ice breaker.

In the understatement of the year, the article proclaims, “The effect of CRs on contracting is especially pronounced, GAO found.”

Well, yes. Yes, they do.


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