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The Defense Department plans to award contracts to Microsoft and Amazon to replace the JEDI Cloud project it cancelled on Tuesday. And although DoD said it’s willing to consider other cloud providers, it’s giving them less than two weeks to explain why their service offerings would meet the department’s needs. Vendors have until July 20 to send “capability statements” to the new Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability contract office. But DoD says those written statements are “just one facet” of the market research it plans to conduct between now and October. The statements will help inform the directed solicitations the department plans issue to cloud vendors at that time.
Another month, another acquisition in the Defense industrial base. This time Huntington Ingalls Industries is expanding outside of its core area of shipbuilding by buying Alion Science and Technology for $1.65 billion in cash from Veritas Capital. Alion provides advanced engineering, research and development services, military training and simulation, cyber and data analytics to the DoD and intelligence community customers, with the Navy representing about one-third of its current annual revenues. Huntington said by buying Alion it will have new capabilities, expanded customer reach and larger addressable market through the new company’s 3,200 employees, of which 80% have security clearances.
Frustrations over NITAAC’s $50 billion CIO-SP4 solicitation boiled over. Five small businesses have filed protests with the Government Accountability Office over changes made to the CIO-SP4 request for proposals. The firms said NITAAC’s amendments make the solicitation unduly restrictive, specifically around how past performance data is applied to bids. Industry also is concerned about inconsistencies in the RFP that is creating more confusion. GAO has until mid-October to decide on the complaints. Industry experts said NITAAC should rescind the solicitation, fix the inconsistencies and past performance requirements and reissue the RFP later this summer. (Federal News Network)
Vet centers would undergo major improvements in staffing and infrastructure under a new bill in Congress. The Vet Center Improvement Act, introduced by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), would standardize staffing models at vet centers by outlining performance metrics, key work activities and descriptions of position responsibilities. The legislation also requires the Government Accountability Office to submit a report on the conditions of all vet centers and any future plans to upgrade them.
The Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general has more bad news about the agency’s massive electronic health record project. VA underestimated the costs of the IT infrastructure upgrades needed to support the new electronic record by as much as $2.5 billion. The department previously told Congress it will need $4.3 billion to make IT upgrades. But the IG said that estimate is unreliable. VA recently wrapped up a strategic review of the EHR program. It will present its findings to the Senate next week.
Government watchdog groups asked President Joe Biden to weigh in on allegations against an outgoing agency inspector general. The Federal Housing Finance Authority’s Inspector General Laura Wertheimer is stepping down at the end of this month, after a report from the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency found she fostered a culture of intimidation and retaliation against whistleblowers. The agency oversees mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Three nonprofit groups — the Project on Government Oversight, the Government Accountability Project and Empower Oversight — are calling on Biden to name an acting agency IG rather than allow Wertheimer to name her successor.
House Democrats are trying again to modernize the Plum Book. The Office of Personnel Management works with House and Senate oversight committees to publish a list of political appointees every four years. The PLUM Act would require OPM maintain a public roster of political appointees online. The bill would also require OPM to make demographic data available on political appointees. The legislation folds together two bills from House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). The PLUM Act cleared the committee last week. (Federal News Network)
The Small Business Administration was rife with cybersecurity issues during one of the busiest periods in its history. The Office of Inspector General’s annual report on the Federal Information Security Modernization Act found that a high volume of SBA loan and grant applications exposed vulnerabilities in its cloud system inventory. SBA failed to update its directory of user accounts and follow patch management policies. Additionally, only one of the agency’s eight security domains received a satisfactory score. IG recommended SBA implement programs to maintain its inventory system and that IT employees complete required security training.
A new report says the military has been too lax with the cybersecurity of its 3D printing systems. The Defense Department inspector general found DoD components did not consistently secure their 3D printing systems or the associated design data. That’s because those organizations treated additive manufacturing systems as tools, rather than information systems. The IG said adversaries could take advantage of vulnerabilities to steal design data and replicate U.S. technology. DoD officials agreed with recommendations to increase security controls for those systems.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is looking for a few good hackers. The agency is hosting a July 20 industry day to preview an upcoming “Blue Team Contract.” CISA said it needs industry partners to provide penetration testing and other cyber assessment services to federal agencies, state and local governments, and private sector organizations. The agency currently does between 200 and 300 assessments per year. CISA said it wants to enhance the quality and quantity of the assessments as part of the future contract.
The Army successfully tested a renewable energy option to power installations in Hawaii with biofuels. The Schofield Generating Station was able to power Schofield Barracks, Field Station Kunia and Wheeler Air Field during a planned power outage. All of those installations are located in Hawaii. The power plant would be used in case regular power goes out. Army officials said the need for energy resiliency is paramount to keeping the military ready in today’s threat landscape.
Starting Friday, the Pentagon will move to its least restrictive health measures since the start of the pandemic. At 5 a.m. EDT tomorrow, the Pentagon reservation will move to Health Protection Condition Alpha. The Defense Department is adamant that this is not a return to pre-COVID practices. HPCON Alpha allows for 90% occupancy in workspaces, but the department said that is not a target to meet immediately, and that supervisors should continue to maximize telework where possible. HPCON Alpha is not the Pentagon’s final plan for reentry after COVID.
The IRS wants to make sure everyone eligible gets a new round of federal payments, even if they don’t file income taxes. The Advance Child Tax Credit payments are coming to families this summer. The IRS will give out half the total credit as monthly checks. Families can claim the other half, when they file tax returns. So the IRS joins with local churches and community non-profits in several large cities this weekend, to get non-filers to sign up, and to file. People eligible for the third round of Economic Impact Payments can also sign up. Volunteers will use a special non-filer signup spot on the IRS website.
The Federal Communications Commission is seeking nominations of members to join its Communications Equity and Diversity Council. The council will provide recommendations to the FCC on accelerating the deployment of high-speed broadband internet, while making sure rural and historically underserved areas receive equitable levels of service. The council is also focused on making small businesses a greater part of the communications industry. The FCC is accepting nominations for members to serve two-year terms through Aug. 10.