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Two major projects at the Army and the Navy are teetering on the edge of failure. The Navy has initiated a strategic pause of its project with CGI to develop a new contracting writing system. An internal email obtained by Federal News Network said users gave the new system an “F” grade. The initial development cannot produce “legally sufficient” contract documents. And cost and schedule slippage would cost more than $1 million a month. The Army has a similar effort also with CGI that is not in much better shape. The service said the project’s schedule has slipped and it had to re-baseline to reflect the complexity of the development. (Federal News Network)
The Senate Armed Services Committee is getting ready to work on one of the biggest bills of the year. Committee members will begin marking up the 2022 National Defense Authorization bill (NDAA) on July 19 and finish by July 22. The NDAA is one of the most bipartisan bills in Congress. The legislation has passed 60 years in a row. This year’s version of the bill is likely to hold many provisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawmakers can also to expect to duke out exactly how they plan to take sex crimes out of the military chain of command.
Microsoft has until the end of July to bill the Pentagon for any expenses it incurred because of last week’s cancellation of the JEDI Cloud contract. A termination notice DoD sent to the company said Microsoft also must destroy all of the data stored in the JEDI Cloud. The Defense Department now plans to replace JEDI with a multi-vendor contract, and expects to issue directed solicitations to Microsoft, Amazon and potentially other cloud companies by October.
The White House’s decision to fire Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul comes one day after a consequential Justice Department opinion. The DOJ decided the president could fire the SSA commissioner in light of two recent Supreme Court cases. The president, by law, can only fire the commissioner for malfeasance in office or neglect of duty. But DOJ found provisions requiring cause for removing the directors of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Federal Housing Finance Agency were unconstitutional. (Federal News Network)
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is just getting started on a goal established by the Office of Management and Budget in 2016. CMS said it is in the early stages of creating an agency enterprise risk management program (ERM). OMB emphasized the need for agencies to develop ERM programs when it updated Circular A-123 nearly five years ago. A new report from the HHS inspector general found CMS lacked policies and procedures to fully consider national security threats to its programs. Auditors said CMS instead relied on HHS’s ERM process and therefore didn’t have effective controls to protect against threats from foreign and domestic adversaries.
Small businesses received almost immediate relief from the National Institutes of Health’s Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC) on their protests of the solicitation for the CIO-SP4 governmentwide acquisition contract. After five small firms filed protests with the Government Accountability Office on July 2, NITAAC issued an amendment to the solicitation a week later trying to address their concerns. NITAAC changed the requirement for mentor-protégé past performance allowing two examples per task area instead of one overall. They’re also now letting small businesses taking part in the SBA’s mentor-protégé program enter into a contract teaming arrangement with a socio-economic firm to compete together for an award.
Space start-ups have a new way to get their products in front of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. NGA is using “bailment agreements” as a no-cost way to test out a company’s products and provide feedback. Such agreements are common — you enter into one when you park your car in a paid lot — but they’re not often used in government. NGA said the agreements help them get familiar with commercial start-ups early in their business, when a contract or acquisition vehicle might not be feasible. The agency is ramping up its use of such agreements, with as many as 20 planned for fiscal year 2021. (Federal News Network)
Agencies have a new guide for how they should be locking down their most important software. Last week, the National Institute of Standards and Technology published security measures for agencies’ use of critical software. NIST said preventing breaches is still a “must,” but agencies should also focus on incident detection, response and recovery capabilities. The new guidance was required by President Joe Biden’s May executive order on cybersecurity, which came after multiple agencies were hacked through their use of SolarWinds software.
The intelligence community is only slightly more diverse today than it was a year ago. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence found incremental progress across the IC workforce. Minorities make up 27% of the intelligence community, half a percentage point better than 2019. The IC also saw a slight increase in the number of employees with disabilities. The proportion of women in the IC remained the same. National Intelligence Director Avril Haines said the IC will accelerate its progress with diversity initiatives.
The Postal Service ends the third quarter of fiscal 2021 with the strongest on-time delivery metrics in a year. USPS delivered more than 87% percent of first-class mail on time. That is more than a 9% increase compared to the second quarter of this year. The agency attributes some of the uptick to moving more mail away from air delivery and relying more heavily on its ground transportation network. The agency is also preparing to hire temporary employees ahead of this year’s peak holiday season to avoid the types of delays it saw last year.
The Bureau of the Fiscal Service is showing federal financial agencies how technology can help them streamline manual processes. The bureau is releasing a Digital End-to-End Efficiency Playbook that walks agencies through how to identify workflows for automation and select business processes with the most potential to maximize cost savings. Innovation Program Manager Craig Fischer said the playbook is intended to help a broader community of agencies. “This is something we want to take governmentwide. This not something that we just want to have in-house in the Fiscal Service,” Fischer said.
The Defense Commissary Agency selects U.S. Army Col. Aaron Stanek as the next headquarters chief of staff executive. He will take over the position in mid-August. Stanek replaces Teena Standard, who retired in January. Stanek previously served as the commandant of the Army Logistics University. In the new position he will manage the daily operations and interrelations of headquarters staff.