Lessons learned from the government’s biggest attempt to fix tech procurement
Eric Hysen

Eric, my compliments on a very fair and deliberative article. I experienced the pain of participating in one of the tech demos that went awry (from the way the government conducted the demo). There was no way to get 100 demos to be run consistently and fairly in the amount of time allotted. I would also quibble that the government did enough to encourage successful bids from “non-traditional” suppliers — most of the “winners” were current beltway companies, or fronts for beltway companies. During “industry” day the government contracts people to whom I had my one-on-one interview had very little or no advice to present to a non-traditional provider. There also could have been a way to weight the experience evaluation criteria for truly new providers with unique commercial experiences. The $1.5B ceiling for FLASH: this was never a realistic amount for the government to spend on new software developments over three years. I estimate that it would require almost 1,000 engineers dedicated for that entire 3 year period comprising 100 full time teams! An impossible goal with two thirds of the department already operating their own IDIQs for agile development along with the paucity of UI, JAVA and Test engineers with clearances in the market. Last, I think the department did itself a disservice restriciting bids to small business. The criteria for participation should have been unique and non-traditional experiences and capabilities, no matter inside what company they were found (basically the department was saying that its current base of contractors were technology laggards and could not bring the resources DHS required to the mission needs).

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