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Zeroing in on the Elusive ‘Contractor Sustainment Re-Vector’

By Bob Brewin // August 11, 2014

The Schriever Space Complex is home to the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center.
The Schriever Space Complex is home to the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center. // U.S. Air Force

On July 10, I reported my frustration with trying to figure out what exactly the Air Force bought for the $38.8 million increase to its Advanced Extremely High Frequency contract with Lockheed Martin for something dubbed “System Interim Contractor Sustainment Re-vector.”

I sent a query to the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center on July 2 on this confusing topic – who ever heard of a re-vectored contract and what does it mean? – and finally received an answer Aug. 4.

A Military Satellite Communications Directorate spokesperson gave me a real simple explanation: Re-vectoring means additional work under the contract for some software modifications.

Hard to believe it took 33 days to generate this answer.

Evidently, the public affairs folks at SMC have not heard of social media let alone the 24-hour cable news cycle. 

Will VA Secretary McDonald Go Back to P&G for His CIO?

By Bob Brewin // August 1, 2014

Al Behrman/AP File Photo

Robert McDonald, the former Procter & Gamble CEO and secretary of Veterans Affairs since Wednesday afternoon, may enlist Filippo Passerini, the P&G chief information officer, as VA CIO, according to medium-strength signals I’ve picked up.

The VA CIO slot has been empty since February 2013, when Roger Baker resigned.

Passerini, born in Italy, has worked for P&G for his entire career since he signed on as a systems analyst in Rome in 1981, after earning a doctorate in statistics and operating research the same year.

In an interview with Forbes in March 2013, Passerini said he did not see himself as a stereotypical CIO, as he also spent portions of his career in marketing. He told Forbes he learned at P&G to treat IT as a commodity enabler of business functions, an indication of the approach he could take at VA.

“We take the view that technology is almost always a commodity,” he said. “It is what you do with it, what business priority you solve, what business capability you enable, what process you render more efficient. This is true value. The conversation should never begin with technology, and our recruiting and training reflect this fact. Therefore ...

McDonald Stresses Integrity in First Message to VA Employees

By Bob Brewin // July 31, 2014

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald // AP Photo

Robert McDonald, sworn in as secretary of Veterans Affairs yesterday, emphasized VA institutional values -- integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect and excellence -- in his first message to employees today.

In an oblique reference to the patient scheduling debacle that has roiled the agency since April, McDonald said: “I recognize that the last few months have been difficult—and the days ahead will not be easy. In fact, many tasks that we must accomplish will be difficult, but I assure you that I will be with you each step of the way."

He urged VA employees to come up with ideas to improve the department and warned he will not accept employees who lack integrity.

 “I want to hear your ideas for improving the department, and I will not tolerate those who stifle initiative, seek to punish people who raise legitimate concerns or report problems, or lack integrity in word or deed,” McDonald said. “Trust is essential in everything we do.”

McDonald Takes Over as VA Secretary Today

By Bob Brewin // July 30, 2014

Robert McDonald, secretary of the Veteran Affairs Department.
Robert McDonald, secretary of the Veteran Affairs Department. // Charles Dharapak/AP

Following his confirmation as secretary of Veterans Affairs by the Senate yesterday, Robert McDonald will be sworn in this afternoon at what looks to me like at a low-key ceremony at VA HQ rather than at the White House with President Obama.

VA spokeswoman Victoria Dillon could not provide me with any details on McDonald’s plans for his first full day in office at this time – including whether he plans to follow through with a pledge made at his confirmation hearing to communicate with all VA employees via a videocast his first day on the job.

Senate Expected to Confirm McDonald as VA Secretary Today

By Bob Brewin // July 29, 2014

Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Robert McDonald
Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Robert McDonald // AP Photo

The Senate will consider the nomination of former Procter & Gamble CEO, Robert McDonald, to be the next secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs with a floor vote at 2:45 p.m. today following an hour of debate.

The vote comes a day after the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee announced agreement on a $17 billion bipartisan VA reform bill.  

Based on praise McDonald received from both sides of the aisle at his confirmation hearing last Tuesday, and near-universal endorsement by the major veterans’ service groups, such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, the vote to confirm him should be close to unanimous.

Sometimes -- even in the Senate -- things are simple.