A delayed budget could hamstring the Space Force

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  • A Senate committee wants to shed light on Defense Department systems that use electronics made in China. The Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the defense authorization bill would require defense contractors to disclose whether sensitive national security systems include printed circuit boards manufactured by China or other adversarial nations. The new requirement would go into effect by next October. The Pentagon has previously identified foreign-made electronics as a major supply chain risk.
  • President Biden’s nominees for the Merit Systems Protection Board have a lot of ideas for reducing the backlog of pending cases. The MSPB has 3,400 pending cases and no confirmed board members to rule on them. Biden’s nominees say they would develop a triage system to address the caseload. They could choose to tackle the oldest cases first. Or the appeals involving whistleblowers. But the Senate must confirm the nominees first. The MSPB hasn’t had a quorum for almost five years. (Federal News Network)
  • A pair of House Democrats want the Government Accountability Office to look into the federal government’s equal employment opportunity process. House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) say they continue to field complaints from federal employees about discrimination and harassment in the workplace. They say too little has changed since GAO last studied the federal sector EEO process back in 2009. They’re interested in possible changes to the law that might improve the process.
  • A whistleblower tipped off the Office of Special Counsel that the Treasury Department failed to collect $92 million in workplace safety violations fees because of a software problem. Now OSC is recognizing that whistleblower with this year’s Special Counsel Public Service Award, even though the whistleblower chooses to remain anonymous. Investigations found the software problem impacted Treasury’s debt collection work for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and 12 other agencies.
  • They won’t threaten to send a repo man, but they will act on authority of the federal government. The IRS awarded contracts to three private debt collection companies. They’ll go to work on taxpayer deadbeats starting today. Two, CBE Group and ConServe, received follow-on awards. Coast Processional is new. The contracts are for 12 months, with four one-year options. They’ll contact people initially by letter. By law, the IRS uses debt collectors mainly for old overdue bills that are not active cases.
  • Defense and national security contractor Peraton made another major acquisition in the federal space. Peraton, which bought Perspecta earlier this year, announced yesterday it’s buying Vion’s cloud services business. Details of the deal were not revealed, but Peraton said the deal is effective immediately. Vion earned more than $82 million in federal contracts in fiscal 2020 with its largest customers being the Commerce and Defense departments. Vion provides more than 25 different IT as a service offerings to federal and state customers.
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement is looking for a company that can run a migrant detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. A new sources sought notice specifies that it must be able to house and provide guards who speak Spanish and Haitian Creole. The facility is attached to the naval base there and houses about 120 people. Bidding will take place later this fall.
  • Details about the next mega governmentwide acquisition contract for small businesses is coming soon. The draft set of instructions and evaluation factors for the Polaris small business GWAC should be available in the coming weeks. The General Services Administration says it will release its initial thinking for Sections L and M of Polaris, which is a 10-year vehicle that could see upwards of $10 billion spent against it. In addition to the draft documents, GSA is adding a separate pool for service-disabled veteran owned businesses to go along with the other socio-economic categories. The final Polaris solicitation is expected to be out by the end of calendar year at which time GSA will hold a pre-proposal conference.
  • President Joe Biden is putting together a brain trust of science advisers. Biden is naming 30 members to serve on the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Members include former Defense Secretary Ash Carter and former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. The council will advise the president on a range of topics, including emerging technology, climate change, and how lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic will reshape public health. Women for the first time make up half the committee, and more than a third are immigrants or people of color.
  • The Air Force says it’s on pace to hit its recruiting goals for the first time in more than five years. The military branch’s recruiting service says it is on the verge of hitting its goal of bringing in 42,000 airmen and guardians just as the fiscal year is about to end. The Air Force traditionally does not have any issues recruiting enough active-duty airmen. However, the reserve and National Guard components have had less success in the past. (Air Force Association)
  • The possibility of a delayed budget might slow down the Space Force. The Space Force may not be able to onboard 350 new guardians into the service. Chief of Space Operations General Jay Raymond says the plan was to bring in those new service members on Oct. 1. The Space Force currently has about 12,000 military and civilian guardians. The new troops would be absorbed from other military services. The House has passed a nine-week continuing resolution to keep the government from shutting down. The agreement still needs to pass the Senate and may meet some resistance there. (Air Force Association)
  • The Pentagon wants to cement career paths for software acquisition experts. For the past year, the Pentagon has been piloting a new career planning track for software acquisition experts. Officials say the military needs program managers and contracting officers who are savvy enough to understand trends in areas like cloud computing and other digital technologies. The Defense Department is also looking at expanding the pilot program to artificial intelligence experts. The hope is DoD can one day compete with the Amazons and Googles of the world for tech talent. (Federal News Network)

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