NASA gets the OK to continue contract related to sending humans back to the moon

In today's Federal Newscast, NASA is able to move forward with a contract award involved with its plans for sending people back to the moon.

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  • NASA can move forward with a contract award involving its plans for sending people back to the moon. The Government Accountability Office denied protests from Blue Origin and Dynetics on the agency’s source selection of SpaceX to continue the development of its human landing system. This means NASA can now award the contract that involves the first crewed mission back to the moon under its Artemis plan.
  • Contractors will no longer need Dun & Bradstreet DUNS number starting April 4. The General Services Administration said the move away from DUNS numbers and to the Unique Entity ID or UEI will be official in nine months. Current government contractors already have been assigned a UEI. New contractors will obtain an identification code through the portal starting in October. Agencies are beginning to migrate their systems to UEI and away from DUNS numbers with a deadline of April 2022.
  • A bill aimed at small business participation in the federal marketplace passed the Senate. The Promoting Rigorous and Innovative Cost Efficiencies, or PRICE Act, would require the Office of Management and Budget to train the federal acquisition workforce on ways to make small businesses a central part of their contracting decisions. Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced the bill, which now heads to the House. The Small Business Administration reports the federal government awarded a record-breaking $145 billion in contracts to small businesses last year, but the number of businesses receiving prime contracts is decreasing.
  • Top senators on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee lead a bill that give the federal acquisition workforce a crash course in artificial intelligence. Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said the bill directs the Office of Management and Budget to create and regularly update the acquisition training program, which should include the ethical and national security risks posed by this technology. The bill encourages OMB to seek feedback from the public and private sectors on ways to improve the training.
  • Over 3 million people are invested in the Thrift Savings Plan’s lifecycle funds for the first time. The TSP hit that milestone last month. Over 500,000 of those participants are invested in the six new L funds the TSP established last summer. The number of participants receiving the full TSP matching rate is also at a new record: 83% of Federal Employee Retirement System participants are contributing at least 5% toward their TSP. And almost 72% of active-duty TSP participants are getting the full matching rate.
  • Senate Republicans want to know what federal union reps are up to now that the Biden administration restored a key labor policy. The practice of using normal work hours for union activities — known as official time — is back on at most agencies. Six Senate Republicans want to know how much official time federal employees are using, and what they’re using it for. The Trump administration reduced official time but President Joe Biden restored it through an executive order in the first days of his presidency.
  • An important cyber official in the Biden administration is on the move. Allan Friedman, the director of cybersecurity initiatives at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, will start a new job at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in the coming weeks. Friedman said he will expand his work on the “Software Bill of Materials” initiative at CISA. In July, the Commerce Department published the “minimum elements” that make up an “SBOM.” President Joe Biden’s cyber executive order directs agencies to consider requiring SBOMs from contractors.
  • Agencies could soon see changes to a law governing how they must secure their data, networks and systems. The Federal Information Security Modernization Act hasn’t seen any major updates since 2014. But Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, is working on a FISMA reform bill. The White House expects a proposal from lawmakers “very soon.” Biden administration officials are intent on updating how the law works. Federal chief information security officer Chris DeRusha wants to shift away from FISMA’s compliance-based approach and work in some of the processes from President Joe Biden’s May executive order on cybersecurity. (Federal News Network)
  • A new cybersecurity shared service is available for all agencies to use. The departments of Homeland Security, Labor and Interior are among the first set of agencies planning to use the new vulnerability disclosure platform or VDP from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. CISA’s Cyber Quality Services Management Office officially launched the service on Friday. The VDP will be a single, centrally managed online website for agencies to let security researchers and others know which websites they should analyze for vulnerabilities and submit reports for analysis. CISA and agencies will now be able to coordinate with the security research community in a streamlined fashion that promotes sharing and collaboration of security threats.

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