What’s on the chopping block—and what’s safe—in the Pentagon’s shrinking budget?

February 25, 2014 by

This year’s scramble in Washington over the budget request will start Monday, when Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to preview the fiscal 2015 Defense Department budget—a week before the official request goes to Congress.

Its first hint at budget priorities will spur the defense industry to start lobbying, lawmakers to stake out their priorities, and the Pentagon to launch a charm offensive on Capitol Hill. And everyone involved will be chasing the same goal: keeping their priorities safe from cuts, even if that means nudging someone else’s pet project.

Before the budget Hunger Games begin, here are a few key priorities that could be on the chopping block as the Pentagon decides how to cut tens of billions of dollars—and what might escape the ax.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.defenseone.com/management/2014/02/whats-chopping-blockand-whats-safe-pentagons-shrinking-budget/79231/?oref=defenseone_today_nl?oref=d-interstitial-continue 

Pentagon to ask for more cyber spending in next budget

February 24, 2014 by

The Pentagon’s cyber budget will get a boost as part of the department’s fiscal 2015 budget request, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last Tuesday (2/18/2014).

“We are adjusting our asset base and our new technology,” the Pentagon’s top official said, adding that the department will increase spending to help improve its cyber capabilities, including a larger focus on cyber security, intelligence gathering, and reconnaissance.

The department’s budget request will be released March 4, as part of the Obama administration’s budget, and the secretary is expected to offer a preview Monday. Hagel and other top Defense officials have largely sidestepped questions about what spending they are asking to have increased — or what programs to cut.

“Of course, it’s going to shift the proprieties and the balance of forces, and where you invest your money to be able to ensure readiness for your forces, capability, … and capacity,” Hagel said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/defense/2014/02/pentagon-ask-more-cyber-spending-next-budget/79040

Army Cyber Command general explains Fort Gordon investment

February 20, 2014 by

The Army is focusing investment at Fort Gordon to refine its cyber domain and maximize the potential for “emerging, game-changing land-power technology,” said Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon, the commanding officer of the Army Cyber Command.

Cardon’s remarks come one week before his keynote address at the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce’s 106th annual meeting on the theme of “Community Strong.”

Expected to speak on how the diverse community organizations collaborate to achieve economic success regionwide, Cardon said last week that the Army selected Fort Gordon as the permanent home for its Cyber Command to better control “cyber mission forces.”

“These decisions to co-locate the Army’s operational and institutional cyber organizations with National Security Agency-Georgia will create tremendous synergy through closer collaboration and coordination,” he said.

Keep reading this article at: http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/metro/2014-02-18/army-cyber-command-general-explains-fort-gordon-investment 

Feds should provide more education and easily available information for SDVOSBs, Rand says

February 18, 2014 by

Federal agencies should provide more education and make contracting information more easily available to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses to help agencies meet the governmentwide 3 percent contracting goal, a Rand report says.

Additional education for SDVOSBs could include more advanced information and training about the Federal Acquisition Regulation and the federal bidding process, as well about the roles and responsibilities of contracting staff, the report says.

Agencies should remove barriers imposed on SDVOSBs by making information easily available to those small businesses and improving communication between the government and SDVOSBs, the report says.

That includes offering information about current incumbents’ performance to help SDVOSBs evaluate their chances of winning a bid, Rand says.  The government should also provide contracting resources for reviewing prime contractors’ execution of their bid and subcontracting plans, conduct those reviews and publish the results.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/feds-should-provide-more-education-and-easily-available-information-sdvosbs/2014-02-10 

What new cyber standards mean for federal contractors

February 17, 2014 by

The White House on Wednesday issued voluntary cyber standards aimed at defending key private networks essential to U.S. society – but it could be years before the benefits are noticeable.

While optional for industry, it is expected that the guidelines — which encourage reporting data breaches to the government — will be required for federal contractors.

Government suppliers say they felt involved in the development of the standards and are satisfied that their flexibility will not be burdensome. That same flexibility has given some security observers pause, however, over concerns that “critical infrastructure” industries, like the energy and medial sectors that sustain daily living, will remain vulnerable.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/cybersecurity/2014/02/what-obamas-new-cyber-standards-mean-federal-contractors/78713/

President issues order boosting minimum wage on new federal contracts

February 14, 2014 by

President Obama issued an executive order Wednesday raising the minimum wage for workers under federal contracts to $10.10 per hour, starting next year.

The move fulfills a pledge Obama made in his State of the Union address last month to take action on his own to raise wages for lower-paid workers on federal projects and at government facilities.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people working under contracts with the federal government to provide services or construction who are currently making less than $10.10 an hour,” the White House said in a statement. “Some examples of the hardworking people who would see their wages go up under this executive order include nursing assistants providing care to our veterans at nursing homes, concessions workers in national parks, people serving food to our troops, and individuals with disabilities working to maintain the grounds on military bases.”

Before signing the order at the White House, Obama said, “right now, there’s a dishwasher at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas making $7.76 an hour — $7.76 an hour. There’s a fast-food worker at Andrews [Air Force Base], right down the street, making $8.91 an hour.  There’s a laundry worker at Camp Dodge in Iowa making $9.03 an hour.  Once I sign this order, starting next year, as their contracts come up, each of them and many of their fellow coworkers are going to get a raise.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2014/02/obama-issues-order-boosting-minimum-wage-contractors/78725/

Proposed rule streamlines agency small business spending

February 13, 2014 by

The Defense Department, General Services Administration and NASA are proposing to amend federal acquisition guidelines to help streamline small business purchasing, according to a notice in the Feb. 3 Federal Register.

The proposed rule would clarify that agencies can continue to claim credit toward their small business spending goals even if the small business has left the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program – as long as the contract award was made while the business was in the program.

However, if the small business no longer represents itself as a small business in future contracts, agencies can no longer count any spending with that company under its small business goals.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140203/ACQ02/302030012/Proposed-rule-streamlines-agency-small-business-spending 

GSA issues RFP for office supplies contract

February 11, 2014 by

The General Services Administration issued a request for proposals Jan. 31 for the third generation of its office supplies strategic sourcing contract.

The ability for agencies to purchase everyday supplies such as pens, paper and printing items from a single contract will save more than $155 million annually on reduced administrative costs and lower prices, according to GSA.

Proposals are due March 17.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140131/ACQ01/301310010/GSA-issues-RFP-office-supplies-contract 

Consultant to veteran-owned small business, once suspended by SBA, says CEO provided inaccurate information

February 10, 2014 by

A consultant for MicroTechnologies LLC, one of the federal government’s most prominent small-business contractors, said the firm’s founder authorized him to submit information to the Small Business Administration in 2005 that the agency later said “appears to be a complete fabrication,” the consultant told The Washington Post.

Alanson R. Anderson said MicroTech founder Anthony R. Jimenez provided the material included in a successful SBA application for entrance into the SBA’s 8(a) program for small, disadvantaged businesses, qualifying for preferential treatment, including contracts awarded without competition.

At the time, Anderson was president of Sourcetec Corp., a small-business consultancy retained to guide Jimenez through the application process.

MicroTech’s application included statements in response to SBA questions about the firm’s ties to two other companies. One of the statements said the firm had “no link, relationship, or partnership of any kind” with a firm owned by two MicroTech investors. SBA rules prohibit small and disadvantaged contractors from being overly affiliated with larger firms.

In December, the SBA suspended MicroTech after agency officials said they had new information that Jimenez had provided “false and misleading statements” about the firm’s ownership, operations and ties to other companies. The suspension was triggered when the SBA began a process known as “debarment” that would block ­MicroTech from future contracts.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/consultant-for-microtech-said-he-vetted-inaccurate-information-with-firms-ceo/2014/01/30/9fb50e9c-89dc-11e3-a5bd-844629433ba3_story.html 

DoD and GSA say Federal contractors should implement cybersecurity in operations and products

February 6, 2014 by

Federal contractors should incorporate baseline cybersecurity measures into their operations as well as their products or services, recommends a joint Defense Department and General Services Administration committee.

Using the federal acquisition system to force contractors into better cybersecurity practices isn’t a new idea, acknowledges the report  – which is dated November but was made public only on Jan. 24. In December, the Pentagon finalized a rule requiring contractor protections over unclassified defense information and instituting intrusion reporting requirements.

And in August 2012, the federal government already proposed requiring contractor information systems to adopt basic safeguards.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/federal-contractors-should-implement-cybersecurity-operations-and-products/2014-01-27