The Small Business Administration is putting a temporary pause on adding new applicants to its disadvantaged business program. A U.S. district court in Tennessee ruled the agency can’t automatically assume a small business owner is socially and economically disadvantaged based on their race when applying for the agency’s 8(a) business development program. Members of the 8(a) program are eligible for set-aside federal contracts. SBA said it will put a hold on new 8(a) members until it revises its application to comply with the court’s decision.
Industry will have to wait until later this fall to hear more about the Department of Homeland Security’s enterprise cloud strategy. In a notice posted to SAM.gov last week, DHS announced plans for an industry engagement in October or November to discuss the Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure Provider Suite (ECLIPS). DHS first released a draft outline of the ECLIPS project last fall. Officials want to establish a DHS-wide contract vehicle for cloud infrastructure hosting services.
CISA sets out its strategy to adapt to a new model of cybersecurity. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency's new cybersecurity strategy outlines three broad goals that drill down on the specific cyber priorities and outcomes CISA wants to achieve. Eric Goldstein, CISA’s executive assistant director for cybersecurity, said the three goals are addressing immediate threats, hardening the terrain and driving security at scale. "Also, for the first time, we include real measures of effectiveness so that we can show not just that we are doing the work, but that our work is yielding actual security outcomes," Goldstein said.
Another bicameral bill would mean the end of Social Security's "evil twins." The Social Security 2100 Act includes similar provisions to the Social Security Fairness Act introduced earlier this year. The new bill would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset, two decades-old provisions that reduce or eliminate Social Security benefits for federal retirees. But in this case, the repeal of WEP and GPO is just one part of a much larger bill looking to reform Social Security overall. The legislation, first introduced in the House in July, has 176 original co-sponsors, all of whom are Democrats, and it has a companion bill in the Senate.
The Defense Management Institute is going public with a new website and a list of priorities it intends to focus on. At the top of the list is a study of the chief management officer, a position Congress started and abolished three years later. The 2024 Senate National Defense Authorization Act seeks to reinstate the position. The White House is opposed. The institute will also focus on a study of Defense healthcare management and a review of the Defense agencies.
The Army took the first step to revamp the IT Enterprise Solutions 4 Services (ITES-4s) contract vehicle. The Army Program Executive Office, Enterprise Information Systems and the Army Contracting Command – Rock Island released a request for information as part of its market research. Stacy Watson, enterprise solutions division director at PEO EIS-Army Computer Hardware, Enterprise Software and Solutions, said the goal is to update the technology the contract offers, including artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and software-as-a-service. ITES-3s has 119 awardees, most of which are small firms. DoD has spent more than 700 million dollars under the vehicles as of last September. Watson said industry days, one-on-one meetings and a draft solicitation are coming over the next year or more.
The background investigations backlog remains at target levels, despite an uptick in cases earlier this year. The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency saw a surge in security clearance investigations cases in the second quarter of this past year. But the latest case inventory at DCSA remains below the target of 200,000 cases. That’s according to the third quarter update from the Performance Accountability Council on the Trusted Workforce 2.0 initiative. While the background investigations backlog is still low, the time it takes to complete an investigation continues to be a challenge. Less than one-third of all secret-level clearance investigations are completed within the goal of 40 days.
Arlington National Cemetery wants public feedback on its plan to remove its Confederate Monument. Part of the process will involve an environmental impact study and a public consultation process under the National Historic Preservation Act. The Army filed a notice of intent in the Federal Register Friday to solicit comments. A virtual public meeting covering both processes is scheduled for August 23. The Army will seek input regarding alternatives that will avoid, minimize or mitigate adverse effects of the monument’s removal.
Just 35% of Americans say they trust the government. And only about 20% say the government listens to the public. But new research from the Partnership for Public Service shows that although the figures remain low, the public has a more positive perception of federal employees themselves. And some specific agencies generally get more positive feedback from the public. For example, 84% of Americans had favorable views of the National Park Service, and 69% for the Social Security Administration.
The Federal Aviation Administration is rethinking its return-to-office plans, following pushback from its unions. The FAA announced last month that its employees would come into the office at least three days per week — or six days per pay period — starting on October 9. But the agency is putting a temporary pause on its return-to-office plans, after unions claimed the announcement was made unilaterally and in violation of their collective bargaining agreements. The FAA said it still plans to increase in-office work, but is working with its unions to craft guidance on its future workplace flexibilities. That includes remote work and effective management of a hybrid workforce.