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The General Services Administration needs to have an approach to more quickly adjust contracts to address supply chain and other price increases for vendors. The Coalition for Government Procurement wrote a letter to the Federal Acquisition Service asking what GSA’s plans are to address inflation under government contracts. The CGP also wants GSA to address the Economic Price Adjustment process, which is the only way vendors today can request a change in prices and it can take months to finalize. The CGP says the current rate of inflation is having a negative impact on all vendors, but particularly small businesses.
The frustrating and much delayed $50 billion IT services solicitation finally got to the end of the beginning on Friday. Vendors, hopefully, once and for all submitted final bids to win a spot on the CIO-SP4 IT governmentwide acquisition contract from NITAAC on Friday. After 16 amendments and 24 protests, which resulted in 10 months of delays, NITAAC can finally begin reviewing proposals for this fourth generation GWAC. NITAAC says it plans to make awards under CIO-SP4 by November, nearly eight months later than it initially planned. Additionally, NITAAC plans to extend the current GWAC, CIO-SP3, through November. The contracts under CIO-SP3 were set to begin expiring in May with others terminating in the early fall. (Federal News Network)
DoD procurement officials now have much more latitude to spend money on R&D projects outside of the government’s traditional acquisition rules. A newly-signed class deviation makes clear that Defense officials can set up Commercial Solutions Openings worth up to $100 million, with very few restrictions, if they’re pursuing “innovative technologies.” According to the new rule, individual projects don’t need to be solicited or recorded in the government’s public procurement website. And it’s possible that even bigger procurements could fly under the public’s radar: awards above the $100 million threshold are allowed under the same rules, as long as they’re approved by senior Pentagon officials and reported to Congress.
A secretive spy agency tries to make it easier for commercial companies to get in the door. The National Reconnaissance Office has high security standards as the agency in charge of highly classified spy satellites. But the NRO is also looking to forge closer ties with a fast growing commercial satellite industry. So the agency is taking a tiered approach to cybersecurity by letting new commercial firms start out with just some basic cyber defenses. NRO Commercial Systems Program Office Director Pete Muend said, “We did go out of our way to start at a fairly approachable level, but actually put those hooks in place to be able to accelerate and enhance their cybersecurity posture to better meet our needs in the future.” (Federal News Network)
The Census Bureau can learn from challenges with the 2020 Census to ensure a smoother rollout for the next decennial count. The Government Accountability Office says the bureau’s launch of an internet response option helped it recover from delays brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. But GAO says this new infrastructure raises many privacy and cybersecurity challenges that require increased scrutiny. The bureau tells GAO it can conduct smaller, more agile tests for the 2030 Census, given budget uncertainty from Congress.
IRS struck a nerve with facial recognition, but is shaking up how other the rest of government verifies identities. The IRS backing away from facial recognition technology is having a ripple effect on identity management in government. The vendor ID.me says it’s making facial recognition optional for its services, after its partnership with the IRS raised alarms within Congress. The vendor does business with 10 federal agencies and 30 states. Meanwhile, the General Services Administration says the team behind Login.gov is researching facial recognition technology, but won’t implement these tools without rigorous review. Nearly 30 agencies use the site to manage online accounts. (Federal News Network)
A former Navy nuclear engineer accused of trying to pass secrets to a foreign government is set to appear in court this afternoon. Jonathan Toebbe previously pleaded not guilty to espionage-related charges. Court records list his appearance in Martinsburg, West Virginia today as a “plea hearing.” Those proceedings are typically used when defendants reach plea agreements with the government, but court records don’t explicitly indicate whether that’s what’s happening this time. Toebbe and his wife were arrested last October after he allegedly sold information about the design about nuclear-powered ships to an FBI agent posing as a foreign government representative. (Federal News Network)
The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general is facing his own investigation. The Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency is looking into the conduct of DHS IG Joseph Cuffari. That’s according to emails and documents unearthed by the Project on Government Oversight. POGO reports that the council’s Integrity Committee is investigating whether Cuffari retaliated against former employees by hiring an outside law firm to investigate them. Cuffari has faced several complaints related to his management of the IG office since he was confirmed in 2019.
Service members at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center are dealing with substandard housing conditions, the Navy is now taking action. Recent reports exposed a lack of hot water, broken A/C units and other issues at Walter Reed. The Navy has now set up a website to update residents on the base about what repairs are completed and when. The site also has a frequently asked questions section to help service members with housing concerns. Most recently the Navy is working to fix hot water issues in two buildings. The Navy says it will post weekly updates on the status of repairs.
Veterans Affairs is starting a new cycle of grants aimed at helping seriously disabled veterans move around their house and do tasks. The VA is encouraging businesses and universities to apply for the grants by March 11. The grants can be up to $200,000. To date, the VA has awarded 22 of the awards.