New contracting goals for small disadvantaged businesses

In today's Federal Newscast, agencies have new contracting goals for awards to small disadvantaged businesses.

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  • Congress has averted the possibility of another holiday season government shutdown. The Senate voted last night to approve a continuing resolution through February 18. The CR passed by a vote of 69-28. In the House, all but one Republican voted against the CR earlier in the day. Some lawmakers wanted to condition the CR on defunding of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates. That issue was eventually broken off into a separate amendment, which failed on a party-line vote in the Senate. (Federal News Network)
  • The House Oversight and Reform Committee advanced a bill designed to strengthen the Office of Personnel Management. The Strengthening OPM Act would implement a few of the recommendations the National Academy of Public Administration made earlier this year about the agency. The bill would refine the agency’s mission and ensure its chief management officer is a career executive. It would also create a new advisory committee for the OPM director. The committee passed the bill along party lines. Republicans balked at a provision instructing the president to appoint an OPM director without regard to political affiliation.
  • Whistleblower advocates are echoing recent calls to Senate leadership to get moving on the Merit System Protection Board nominees. This coalition includes the American Civil Liberties Union, the Government Accountability Project and the Project on Government Oversight. They’re asking Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to schedule confirmation votes for the president’s MSPB nominees. The nominees cleared the committee level back in early November. The MSPB doesn’t have any board members and hasn’t had a quorum for nearly five years. (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency has chartered a new program executive office to oversee its enterprise IT programs. Terry Carpenter is leading the new office. Its key programs include background investigation systems, biometrics, cloud services and data management, and robotic process automation. DCSA is developing the National Background Investigation Services, which is expected to replace legacy systems by 2023.
  • Agencies must give federal employees up to four hours of administrative leave to get the COVID booster or additional vaccine dose. The Office of Personnel Management reminded agencies of this policy. The reminder comes on the heels of the Biden administration recommending all employers adopt a similar policy. OPM said federal employees can also get up to four hours of leave for each family member who needs company to get their vaccine doses or booster shots. The Biden administration hasn’t yet made booster shots a requirement for federal employees.
  • After a cluster of symptoms like headaches and rashes preliminary tests found petroleum in the drinking water of a military base in Hawaii. Water samples at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam show that drinking water going mostly to military children is contaminated with petroleum. The Hawaii Health Department is advising service members to avoid using water for drinking, cooking or oral hygiene. The base is providing a gallon of potable water to service members. The Hawaii Health Department said it received 175 complaints of odor from the water. Meanwhile, service members noticed pets and children falling ill. The base is holding townhalls and has created an emergency call center on the issue.
  • 5G is all the rage right now, but a defense-focused think tank wants the United States to start digging into the next generation of wireless technology. A new study from the Center for a New American Security said the U.S. needs to start crafting a strategy for 6G if it wants to stay ahead of China. The paper recommends expanding research and development funding for 6G and creating a fund to build on current 5G efforts for the next generation.
  • The U.S. government is continuing to issue cyber requirements for key transportation sectors. By Dec. 31, the majority of U.S. passenger and freight rail operators will have to follow new cybersecurity directives published by the Transportation Security Administration yesterday. The directives require operators to report cyber incidents to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within 24 hours. They’ll also need to identify a cybersecurity point person and come up with a cyber incident response plan. The Department of Homeland Security has already issued cyber directives to pipeline operators and is also prepping new requirements for airlines and airports.
  • Large vendors on GSA Advantage have until April to implement capabilities to track the status of orders shipped to agency customers. GSA said any vendor with 10 or more product lines not in compliance will be suspended from Advantage and e-Buy. The current rate of compliance is around 70%. Schedule contractors must use EDI, c-XML or the GSA Advantage Purchase Order Portal to provide order status that lets agencies track the location of an order at any time. The ability to track an order is part of all multiple award schedule solicitations.
  • The White House is putting small businesses front and center of new contracting goals. Agencies have new contracting goals for awards to small disadvantaged businesses. As part of its effort to increase opportunities for underserved small businesses, the White House is raising the SDB goal to 11% in 2022 from the current 5% goal. The administration wants to raise the SDB goal to 15% by 2025. Additionally, the White House said it will update goals for other socioeconomic categories, including women-owned small businesses, service-disabled veteran owned small businesses and HUBZone businesses in 2022. Among the other changes coming is the requirement for agencies to tell OMB and the Small Business Administration about their plans to ensure the director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization have direct access to senior leaders.

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