Inflation expected to hit government contractors hard, Pentagon comptroller says

In today's Federal Newscast: No surprise. Inflation is hitting the contracting community, along with everyone else. GAO reports that DoD has shoddy tactics for ...

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  • Inflation is expected to hit government contracting harder starting next fiscal year. Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord said inflation in contracts for goods and services is “real,” and it’s expected to ramp up in fiscal 2023. The White House Office of Management and Budget is expected to issue new inflation estimates next month. In the meantime, McCord said the Pentagon is providing information to congressional committees on the budgetary impacts of rising prices.
  • New legislation is out to address long-standing federal acquisition barriers. Another bill is trying to modernize the federal acquisition process. The AGILE Procurement Act, introduced by Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), aims to do two things: First it wants to streamline the purchase of commercial technology to ensure innovation and small businesses have access to the federal market and second, the bill would provide specific training for acquisition professionals on buying commercial IT. The bill calls for a pilot program to bring more junior and mid-career professionals into the acquisition workforce. Additionally, Peters and Ernst want a working group to recommend ways to reduce barriers to government contracting.
  • The General Services Administration’s next generation professional services contract called OASIS-Plus will now be for 10 years with a five-year option period for a total of 15 years. GSA said industry feedback led them to make the change from its initial thinking of creating a five-year contract with a five-year option. This was one of the several changes driven by vendors that GSA announced last week. Additionally, GSA said it will increase the minimum annual value threshold for a qualifying project to $500,000 from $250,000 for the tech and engineering, and management and advisory small business domains.
  • Two agencies are boosting their collaboration to better enforce worker protections. The Justice Department, along with the National Labor Relations Board, will share more information and coordinate investigations to better enforce the National Labor Relations Act. The agencies now plan to meet at least quarterly to discuss progress on training programs, public outreach and technical assistance for employees. The agencies said their new memorandum of understanding will safeguard workers from unlawful employer practices and strengthen protections for the right to organize.
  • Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) has raised concerns about pay for D.C. National Guard members on encampment leave. Norton called on the Defense Department and the Office of Personnel Management not to recoup pay from feds who are called to service. She said DoD and OPM have indicated the members should have their civilian pay offset by their National Guard pay during leave. But Norton argued that the agencies are misreading the law, and Congress actually meant for the employees to receive both types of pay.
  • Important new information on how the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program will work. The Cyber Accreditation Body released a draft version of the CMMC Assessment Process this week. The highly anticipated document lays out guidance and procedures for third-party assessment organizations in evaluating contractors who are seeking a CMMC certification. The guide is not official until the Defense Department goes through a formal rulemaking process that makes the CMMC requirements a reality. But it gives contractors and assessors an idea of what the process should look like.
  • A new audit finds the military may be overpaying for its sole source contracts for repair and maintenance. The DoD inspector general looked at 34 sole source depot maintenance contracts, and found that in 21 of them, the military may not have gotten fair and reasonable prices. But the IG said some of the problems were out of contracting officials’ control. One issue is that current law limits how much cost and pricing data the government can demand from contractors.
  • The Government Accountability Office reported that the Defense Department has shoddy tactics for testing children for lead exposure. That’s especially concerning, GAO said, since recent reports have exposed lead paint in some privatized military housing. GAO said the Defense Health Agency is undercounting data on lead exposure and does not have proper oversight of providers doing the screening.
  • The Coast Guard is rethinking how it brings people into the service. Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Linda Fagan said the service hasn’t revamped its talent management system in 75 years. In a tough labor market and with only about one in three people between the ages of 17 and 24 eligible to serve, that’s a problem. Fagan said the Coast Guard is taking new steps to bring its recruiting efforts into the future. The service already set up a new office to take a hard look at how it recruits. It’s also putting more of an emphasis on online reachouts to get people excited about the Coast Guard mission. (Federal News Network)
  • The Customs and Border Protection directorate has increased its testing and deploying of facial recognition technology at air, sea and land ports across the country. CBP installed the technology to biometrically confirm travelers’ identities in all airports for arriving travelers and in 32 airports for departing travelers as of July. Facial recognition technology is also currently in 26 seaports and 159 land ports. CBP said it’s making every effort to ensure travelers’ information and data are protected.
  • A new higher price tag for the Veterans Affairs Department’s new Electronic Health Record is a tough sell for House lawmakers. Committee Ranking Member Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.) said an upcoming cost analysis showed the new Oracle-Cerner EHR system will now cost $39 billion to implement over 13 years and $17 billion to maintain over the next 15 years. “What the VA is getting today would be a bad investment at any price. If we don’t see major progress by early next year, when VA says they intend to roll Cerner out to larger sites, we will have to seriously consider pulling the plug,” Bost said. He added that that’s 10 times more expensive than what it would have cost the VA to modernize its VistA legacy EHR. The VA said it’s putting out a new schedule for its current EHR rollout this fall. (Federal News Network)
  • A bill that would allow a historic expansion of health care benefits at the Department of Veterans Affairs failed to pass the Senate. The Senate voted 55-42 on the Honoring Our PACT Act, five votes shy of the threshold to bring the bill to a final floor vote. The bill would have expanded VA health care to treat 3.5 million additional veterans exposed to toxic burn pits.
  • A bill to strengthen whistleblowing in the federal government has come into focus. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) joined Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) to re-introduce the Espionage Act Reform Act. The bill ensures every member of Congress is equally able to receive classified information from whistleblowers. It also allows cybersecurity experts who discover classified government backdoors in encryption algorithms and communications apps to publish their research without facing criminal penalties.
  • Shane Kimbrough is retiring at the end of July after 18 years as a NASA astronaut. Kimbrough is a retired Army colonel who spent 388 days in space, landing him fifth on the list in NASA’s record book for most time in space. He’s also only the fourth person to fly on three different spacecrafts: the space shuttle, Soyuz and the SpaceX Crew Dragon. During his career, he took nine spacewalks and performed more than 250 investigations to help with future space exploration. The experiments included how gaseous flames behave in microgravity, growing hatch green chiles in the International Space Station and wearing VR goggles to test new methods for doing maintenance in space. Kimrough said he wanted to be an astronaut since his childhood watching astronauts go to the moon and that his career is “truly a dream come true.”

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    (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)An aerial view of the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia.

    Inflation expected to hit government contractors hard, Pentagon comptroller says

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