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Are agile services severable?

Jan. 31, 2019 | 915 Words | 5-minute read

Fiscal law and “color of money” issues are pretty wonky important aspects of government procurement. And one particularly wonky issue that comes up from time to time relates to whether a service is “severable.” Today I tackle a question that seems as-of-yet unresolved: is software delivery using agile methodologies a severable service? Understanding whether a service is severable or nonseverable is important because the answer can dramatically affect how an agency obligates money for that service.

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Which clause should I use for buying custom open-source software?

Dec. 20, 2018 | 1019 Words | 5-minute read

The federal source-code policy requires contracting officers to, when buying custom-developed software, “consider the value of publishing custom code as [open source software] and negotiate data rights reflective of its value-consideration.” But then the policy says absolutely nothing about which FAR clause to include to ensure appropriate data rights. Should COs use the General rights in data clause? Should they use the Special Works clause? I’ve seen some contracts do both.

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Can I talk to a Contracting Officer?

Dec. 7, 2018 | 403 Words | 2-minute read

Am I allowed to pitch my product to government? Isn’t it illegal to propose ideas to a contracting officer? I thought there are procurement rules that prohibit my communicating directly with a contracting officer? If you’ve thought that you are somehow restricted from providing information to the government, even pitching the government, I’ve got great news for you: unless you’ve already submitted a formal proposal, you can talk to whomever you want!

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Three cool new things about the Recipient Profile feature of USASpending.gov

Dec. 3, 2018 | 741 Words | 4-minute read

When the news of an update to USASpending.gov came out at the end of November 2018, I went a bit overboard on the superlatives:

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How can I find out what companies charge the government for certain services?

Nov. 21, 2018 | 1111 Words | 6-minute read

One of the more inside-baseball parts of government contracting is conducting market research to predict your competitors’ cost. If you’ve been in the game for a while, you generally know what others are charging and where you stack up. But, what if you’re new and trying to assess your position? Or, what if you’re just interested in finding out how much stuff should cost? In this post, I offer some tips on some of the publicly available tools I use that can help with market research on pricing for government.

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Joyful Procurement: The Art of Digital-Services Acquisition

Nov. 15, 2018 | 340 Words | 2-minute read

TL;DR — I’m writing a book on how government officials should effectively acquire digital services. If you’re interested in learning more or want to show support for the effort, please consider signing up for my newsletter! Upon leaving government, I knew that one of the things I would be passionate about would be teaching public servants about how to effectively buy digital services. I wrote at the time:

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Two tools that can lead to better digital-services acquisition outcomes

Oct. 31, 2018 | 1407 Words | 7-minute read

Identifying qualified vendors to deliver digital services and effectively monitoring delivery by those vendors is a significant challenge for government acquisition professionals. Although there are numerous resources that can help government teams do a better job of building and buying technology, in this post, I highlight two new tools that should be considered indispensable for the digital-services expert. The first, Steps to Performance-Based Acquisition, is an online guide for federal acquisition professionals to use when acquiring professional services.

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The separation of [product] powers

Oct. 16, 2018 | 652 Words | 4-minute read

“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” James Madison, Federalist #51 The Digital Services Playbook lists a “key play” as having a single accountable product owner for the delivery of a product. Specifically, it declares that you must “Assign one leader and hold that person accountable.” Here’s the rest: There must be a single product owner who has the authority and responsibility to assign tasks and work elements; make business, product, and technical decisions; and be accountable for the success or failure of the overall service.

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