Are medium-sized contractors getting left behind?

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  • A new study by the Government Accountability Office confirms it’s tough to be a medium-sized government contractor. GAO looked at 10 years of contracting data, and found companies that had been getting small-business set aside contracts had a very hard time getting work once they outgrew the “small” size standards. Out of 104 firms that graduated to medium-sized status midway through the decade, only 2.5% continued to receive government contracts. GAO said Congress could choose to address the issue in several ways – including by creating new set-aside contracts just for medium-sized companies. (Government Accountability Office)
  • The House passed a seven-week continuing resolution that will keep government open through Nov. 21. The short term deal would give the Office of Personnel Management an additional $48 million and the authority to move nearly $30 million more from the agency’s trust funds to keep operations running. The Trump administration has said OPM will face a $70 million funding gap when the security clearance business moves to the Defense Department on Oct. 1. The Senate is expected to vote on the CR next week. (Federal News Network)
  • Still no word from the Senate Appropriations Committee on federal pay. It was not mentioned in the final version of the 2020 financial services and general government spending bill. The bill and two others cleared the committee and are headed to conference with House leadership. Congressional leaders will need settle their differences over a 2.6% or a 3.1% pay raise for civilian federal employees next year. The agriculture, and transportation and housing bills also cleared the full Senate Appropriations Committee. The agriculture bill includes $25 million for USDA’s upcoming relocation of two of its research bureaus to Kansas City. (Federal News Network)
  • Members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee seek more feedback from the government council of inspectors general, when it investigates misconduct within its own ranks. Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) introduced a bill seeking greater transparency into ethics reviews done by the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, or CIGIE. The bill would require CIGIE to brief Congress on the number of its investigations, and to justify when it decides not to pursue a case of alleged misconduct further. (Rep. Gerry Connolly)
  • The United Auto Workers is not the only union under the watchful eyes of federal law enforcement. The former treasurer of an American Federation of Government Employees local received a two-year prison sentence plus probation for embezzling $82,000 from the union. Elizabeth Jones was a member of Local 331, which represents Department of Veterans Affairs employees in Perry Point, Maryland. Jones’s main technique was forging signatures on checks she wrote to herself. The local president, the VA inspector general, and the Labor Department all helped nab her. (Department of Justice)
  • Agencies are out with their first ever customer experience plans. The plans outline how they’ll use customer-facing enterprises to measure and report outcomes, and expand their CX profiles. The creation of these plans were a 2018 requirement in the Office of Management and Budget’s Circular A-11 guidance. OMB said many high-impact service providers are planning to expand their survey mechanisms and analytics and will implement new customer experience surveys. More customer service training and call center consolidation are future governmentwide activities. (Performance.gov)
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology is doubling down on efforts to build cybersecurity into internet of things devices. Next week, NIST plans to host a workshop on the human factors behind IOT, after gathering feedback on cybersecurity standards from industry. NIST Chief Cybersecurity Adviser Donna Dodson added that agencies need to move toward a zero-trust model when it comes to shoring up IOT cybersecurity. (Federal News Network)
  • Four recommendations to improve the confidence of the federal IT supply chain. A DHS-led public-private task force finalized two tactical and two strategic recommendations to improve the technology agencies buy. On the tactical side, the Information and Communications Technology Supply Chain task force recommended agencies only buy IT products from authorized resellers or from original equipment manufacturers. The task force also suggested agencies should rely on a trusted vendors or products list when the risk is greatest. The other two recommendations on the strategic side include understanding cyber threats and sharing information about risks. (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency)
  • The Navy’s 10th Fleet assembled its first official cyber competition team to participate in contests going on through the end of September. The team consists of 15 members of the 10th Fleet. They will compete in capture the flag, cryptography, web exploitation and reverse engineering challenges. The team will use their talents in events like the Department of Homeland Security’s President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition. (Navy)
  • A $7.5 million grant from the Defense Department goes to Virginia Tech. The grant is for lowering the latency in networked systems. Network latency is the measure of how quickly devices transmit information to each other. Researchers will develop a framework to guarantee faster communication between systems. The project will involve fundamental research and experimental prototypes to validate the framework in the real world. (Virginia Tech University)
  • The use of pre-award audits for pharmaceutical contracts saved VA more than $386 million in fiscal 2018. And over the 10 year span of the contracts, the VA inspector general says the agency could avoid spending more than $22 billion. The IG yesterday released details of its 22 preaward audits it conducted in 2018. The report highlighted not only the cost savings, but also challenges with proposals from contractors, including inaccurate or incomplete information that could’ve impacted the contracting officers’ decisions. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • The White House is withdrawing its nominee to lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency. POLITICO reports Jeffrey Byard took his hat out of the ring after the accusation that he was involved in a barroom altercation surfaced. The administration will reportedly nominate acting FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor for the position. (POLITICO)

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