Pentagon looking to gauge the health of the Defense industrial base

In today's Federal Newscast, the Pentagon wants input from industry as part of a new study on the financial health of the Defense industrial base

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  • The Pentagon wants input from industry as part of a new study on the financial health of the Defense industrial base. Among other things, the Office of Defense Pricing and Contracting is looking for input on obstacles companies have faced in getting financing, whether small firms are getting prompt payments from prime contractors, and the overall health of the Defense industry. The study was prompted by a GAO report that found DoD hasn’t analyzed how its policies affect the industry since 1985. Comments are due July 18.
  • The Army takes an important initial step to consolidating five business systems. The Army kicked off an initiative to consolidate and merge five separate business systems. The Army Contracting Command released a request for information, a prototype project opportunity notice and a statement of need seeking industry feedback. The Army wants to use another transaction agreement to hire a lead systems integrator to design, develop and demonstrate a prototype enterprise resource planning or ERP system that pulls in the capabilities of all five systems, including the General Fund Enterprise Business System and the Logistics Modernization program. Army CIO Raj Iyer said in June that the service spends $1.4 billion on these systems and many are more than 20-years-old. Comments on the RFI are due by July 18. The Army says it will hold an industry day later this year after reviewing feedback.
  • The Defense Department’s inspector general says the Pentagon is inconsistent in how it applies classification rules. A new IG report found DoD components largely failed to maintain their security classification guides in accordance with federal guidance. The IG says DoD runs the risk of misclassifying information and accidentally disclosing sensitive data to U.S. adversaries. The report recommends DoD direct components to account for their security classification standards and ensure they conform with the latest guidance.
  • Here’s one you may not have heard about for awhile, auditors give the Office of Personnel Management high marks on how it’s securing a key system for retirees. The Annuity Roll System, which contains records on annuitants and their survivors and forms the basic pay records for disbursing benefits, met nine different cybersecurity requirements under the Federal Information Security Management Act or FISMA. The OPM inspector general says ARS’s security systems plan is update; it has a recent authority to operate and has an updated plan of action and milestones. The IG says these and other documents provide a good foundation to security, but doesn’t necessarily guarantee the data and systems are secure.
  • The lead U.S. cyber agency is about to get its own contracting powers. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency will get procurement authority starting this month. CISA currently relies on Department of Homeland Security headquarters and other agencies for its contracting activities. It’s another step up for one of the newest standalone federal agencies. CISA was established in 2018. The new contracting authority comes as CISA takes on more responsibility for the cybersecurity of agencies and critical infrastructure. (Federal News Network)
  • The Air Force is strengthening its separation policy to crack down on sexual assaulters. The Air Force will no longer consider an airman or guardian’s character, financial situation or mental health when deciding if a sexual assaulter should leave the service. The change is an effort to root out those in the military who commit sex crimes. The service will no longer grant exceptions to those who assault children or those who have previous convictions for sex related crimes. The Defense Department is beginning a concentrated effort to purge sexual assault from its ranks. Last year, it announced a handful of new measures to better handle sexual assaults, including taking sex crimes out of the chain of command and referring them to independent agencies. (Federal News Network)
  • The Air Force’s Air Mobility Command is shifting to a new model it hopes will increase readiness and improve predictability. AMC’s previous force generation model has been in effect for 20 years. After a deep dive assessment, AMC will reconstitute manpower, aircraft and equipment that train, deploy and recover as cohesive units. That will happen through four specific phases that prioritize what each unit needs depending on its recent training and deployments.
  • The Census Bureau is making its data easier to find, use and understand. The bureau redesigned its data webpage. It now features interactive text, ways to build customized maps based on their data, a new search tool to explore data tables and access to microdata files. It also includes search ideas for guests. With the new look, the website still has education, employment, health, housing and more data on over 100,000 American locations like states, counties, places, tribal areas, ZIP codes and congressional districts.
  • Agencies have made progress in how they use data, but the Partnership for Public Service says some are looking to improve their data workforces. The way agencies recruit and develop their data and digital workforces scored poorly in a recent Partnership survey. Involving data and digital specialists in ongoing agency projects was one of the lowest scoring categories. But agencies who took the survey say they plan to dramatically improve their data workforce’s effectiveness over the next five years.
  • A standard for the sustainability of federal buildings is coming soon. The Biden administration expects the first-ever Federal Building Performance Standards will put agencies on a realistic path to meeting some of President Joe Biden’s green government goals. The standards will establish metrics, targets and tracking methods to reach federal carbon emissions goals. Federal Chief Sustainability Officer Andrew Mayock says the standards will be publicly released in two or three months and will raise the bar on sustainability for more than 300,000 federal buildings. “We’re not getting where we need to go unless we focus on how we scale and how we scale is through technology.” (Federal News Network)
  • The General Services Administration and National LGBT Chamber of Commerce are extending pride month by collaborating to expand support for LGBTQI owned small-businesses. The collaboration will provide owners of these companies greater access to GSA contracting opportunities. It also will focus on creating awareness of GSA’s programs among LGBTQI small business owners. The partnership will also provide information to local LGBTQI affiliate chambers of commerce around the country about GSA’s programs, services and events that help small businesses learn about contracting and subcontracting. There are an estimated 1.4 million LGBTQ business owners.
  • There’s a new way to help federal employees affected by severe weather in Montana. Federal employees can donate unused paid time off to some of their colleagues. The Office of Personnel Management established an emergency leave transfer program for Montana’s federal workers, after severe storms and flooding hit the state in June. If you’re looking to either donate or receive unused paid leave, OPM says you should contact your agency. The paid leave will first be transferred among workers within the same agency, but OPM says it can be transferred across agencies, if needed.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs faces a 23% vacancy rate for Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselors, as well as Marriage and Family Therapists. Senate VA Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) are seeking an update from VA and the Office of Personnel Management on steps to bring more of these personnel onboard. The senators specifically seek an update under the 2020 Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, which requires the agencies to create a new federal occupational series for these specialists.

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