Up for grabs: A $12 billion, 10-Year Defense Department IT contract

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  • There is more information coming today on yet another multi-billion-dollar DoD IT contract. The Defense Information Systems Agency plans to release a draft solicitation for what it estimates will be an $11.7 billion contract over the next 10 years. It is called Defense Enclave Services, and much like the controversial JEDI contract, DISA plans to use a single-vendor ID/IQ approach. The main purpose is to build a shared IT network for the DoD agencies and field activities outside the military services, commonly called the Fourth Estate.
  • Next week, a couple of thousand members of the Air Force move to the new Space Force. The new service branch is busy setting up commands this year, and Maj. Gen. Kimberly Crider, mobilization assistant to the Chief of Space Operation, says the pandemic-inspired virtual work environment is somewhat fitting. After all, Crider says, there are no norms for space, and the military domain will need to leverage data and innovative technologies to succeed. (Federal News Network)
  • Agencies have less than a week to send the Office of Management and Budget six years worth of acquisition data around the Buy American Act. OMB reminded agencies that by September 1 they must send information about where organizations — receiving federal financial assistance — are buying materials, like iron, aluminum, steel and cement. OMB is trying to determine what portion of the funding was used to buy these materials from U.S.-based companies versus foreign companies.
  • Attention all small businesses contractors, here is your chance to influence the next great government-wide acquisition contract (GWAC). After the Alliant 2 small-business procurement fell apart, the General Services Administration is taking another bite at the GWAC apple. But this time, the agency is emphasizing more small-business participation, both from a feedback perspective and from an acquisition strategy approach. GSA says it wants to streamline the proposal submission process, potentially use the authority to consider pricing only at the task-order level and possibly offer set-asides for HUBZone or women-owned small businesses under the GWAC. The draft solicitation should be out by the end of the calendar year.
  • The office designed to hold senior leaders accountable at the Department of Veterans Affairs has been busy, but has little to show for it. VA’s Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection recommended disciplinary action for seven senior leaders in the last 18 months. Six of those cases were for misconduct or poor performance. One was a whistleblower retaliation case. VA did not act on at least one of those recommended punishments. OAWP has been trying to establish trust with its customers and improve the quality of its investigations. (Federal News Network)
  • The military continues to relax the travel restrictions it imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic. New figures show eight bases moved into the unrestricted travel category over the past week. Those include three Army bases and five Air Force bases, according to a tally by Stars and Stripes.  Some 55% of DoD’s installations are still subject to travel restrictions.
  • The Naval Academy is using empty dorms at neighboring St. John’s College in Annapolis to house about 375 midshipmen this fall. The Academy signed a memorandum of understanding with St. John’s, a small liberal arts college, to use the empty dorms as St. John’s moves classes online this semester, due to the coronavirus. The Naval Academy set aside about 130 contingency rooms in its Bancroft Hall dormitory for quarantine and isolation requirements, while officer and senior enlisted leadership, who normally work from Bancroft Hall, will also move to the St. John’s campus.
  • The Census Bureau’s recent decision to cut 2020 field operations a month short raises concerns about the accuracy of the count. The Government Accountability Office says the bureau’s decision to stop knocking on doors at the end of September, rather than October, adds more risk to the count. GAO finds the bureau has hired more than 300,000 enumerators to knock on doors, but had expected to hire up to 435,000. GAO also recommends the bureau take steps to protect personally identifiable information on the smartphones used to record census responses, and that enumerators practice social distancing when conducting interviews at people’s homes.
  • The Agriculture Department breaks ground on a new Agricultural Research Technology Center this week in California. The center features new laboratories and greenhouses, and has capacity for more scientists. The site builds on the existing ARS Crop Improvement and Protection Research Laboratory in Salinas, and when complete will form new collaborations with the University of California, Davis. USDA’s solicitation for the project said the current facilities are inadequate, and the four wood-framed laboratory office buildings date back to the 1940s.
  • The Office of Personnel Management wants agencies to start reviewing which employees are eligible to have their leave restored during the ongoing pandemic. OPM recently declared the coronavirus pandemic an exigency of the public business. That means employees whose services are needed to respond to the health crisis can hold on to the leave they would otherwise have to forfeit at the end of the year. OPM set special regulations that allow agencies to skip some of the paperwork and restore leave more quickly. Agencies should start informing employees if they are eligible for the new leave policy.
  • Two top Democrats are urging the Department of Homeland Security inspector general to review recent DHS actions under two of its acting leaders. The call for a review came from House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.). They want the IG to review the official actions of acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf and acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli in light of a recent opinion from the Government Accountability Office. GAO said Wolf and Cuccinelli are illegally serving as acting officers at the department.
  • Schools run by the Defense Department have begun some in-person coursework this week, but half its schools will still only offer virtual classes. The Department of Defense Education Activity’s chief information officer said the agency has distributed thousands of laptops to students and that teachers have adjusted to teaching outside the classroom. (Federal News Network)