New DFARS rule aims to reduce amount of bid protests

In today's Federal Newscast, three years in the making, the Defense Department sets out its process for how contracting officers should do enhanced debriefings.

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  • Three years in the making, the Defense Department sets out its process for how contracting officers should do enhanced debriefings for task and delivery orders worth more than $10 million. DoD released a proposed rule to meet the requirement of the 2018 Defense authorization bill. The post-award enhanced debriefings are designed to increase transparency to help minimize the number of protests filed by unsuccessful bidders. Comments on the proposed rule are due by July 19.
  • The state of cybersecurity governmentwide looks to be better than ever. Cyber metrics ranging from managing risks to the effectiveness of security programs improved across the board for agencies in fiscal 2020. The latest Federal Information Security Management Act or FISMA report to Congress tells a story of agencies being better prepared, at least on paper, to protect systems and data from cyber attacks. The Office of Management and Budget said agencies faced almost 31,000 cyber attacks in 2020, an eight percent increase over the year before. The number of email or phishing incidents dropped but website or web application attacks increased in 2020.
  • Senate Democrats are urging Attorney General Merrick Garland to reestablish a union for immigration judges at the Justice Department. The Federal Labor Relations Authority decertified the National Association of Immigration Judges last November. The FLRA decided immigration judges were management officials and therefore shouldn’t have collective bargaining rights. Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee said reestablishing the union could help immigration judges regain their independence.
  • The White House plans to nominate Matt Olsen to oversee the Justice Department’s National Security Division. Olsen spent over 20 years serving in different federal roles, including three years as Director of the National Counterterrorism Center under the Obama Administration. Recently, he was working as Chief Trust and Security Officer for Uber. The Wall Street Journal was first to report the President’s intent to nominate Olsen.
  • Workforce issues at the State Department rank high on the Government Accountability Office’s list of outstanding recommendations. GAO said the department has taken some steps to address longstanding diversity challenges. But auditors said the agency needs to explain and correct a discrepancy in mid-career promotions between racial minorities and their white colleagues. GAO said the agency should make better use of its workforce data to zero in on the problem. The agency hired its first chief diversity and inclusion officer in April.
  • The National Institutes of Health is naming a new chief officer for scientific workforce diversity. Marie Bernard will take on the job permanently after starting the position on an acting basis last October. Bernard helped stand up NIH’s Diversity Working Group and Equity Committee. She also serves as co-chair of the NIH Inclusion Governance Committee, which oversees inclusion efforts in clinical research.
  • Industry wants government to get moving on security clearance reforms. Contractors see progress with the governmentwide security clearance backlog. And the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency is processing cases more quickly than it was three years ago. But they say an outdated process is still slowing down their own hiring. DCSA and other agencies have plans in mind to update an outdated security clearance and vetting system. But industry wants agencies to implement it more quickly. (Federal News Network)
  • The Pentagon spends billions of dollars every year on sole-source contracts. But zero competition means they’re quick. For sole-source awards, contracting officers need to see a company’s cost and pricing data to make sure taxpayers are getting a fair price. But a new review by the Government Accountability Office found contractors routinely dragged their feet on providing that data, sometimes for months. The Pentagon plans to deliver a report later this year on which firms outright refuse to provide the data when they don’t have to. GAO said DoD also needs to gather information on delays.
  • R. Adm. William Chase is selected to be the next deputy commander of Joint Force Headquarters Department of Defense Information Network. The component of U.S. Cyber Command is responsible for operating and defending DoD’s 15,000 networks and three million users. Chase is currently serving as the deputy principal cyber advisor to the secretary of Defense. Rear Admiral Jeffrey Scheidt will take over that position.
  • Lawmakers are wondering if it’s time for the Defense Department to change the way it handles domestic abuse. A recent report found that the Defense Department did not take any action on 43% of the domestic abuse cases it classified as severe. That number alarmed House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee Chairwoman Jackie Speier (D-Calif.). Currently, the lowest level commanders decide how to handle domestic abuse cases. Speier is wondering if that needs to be pushed up to the level of colonel or higher. A Government Accountability Office report found some lower level commanders and chaplains were sweeping domestic abuse issues under the rug. (Federal News Network)

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