The Air Force abruptly canceled a huge cybersecurity solicitation right before crossing the finish line. The competition for the estimated $5 billion Enterprise Cyber Capabilities (EC2) contract from the Air Force is now over, before it really got started. The Air Combat Command decided to pull the plug on the solicitation more than 18 months after it began. In a note on SAM.gov, the Air Force said it received more than 250 bids and its acquisition strategy and evaluation methodology were not suitable to result in a manageable number of prime contract awards. And instead of changing its strategy or the solicitation, the Air Force left vendors in the cold after two years of work and hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs.
One federal union now says that if there is a government shutdown, the IRS will partially close. The IRS will keep some employees on the job during a shutdown, while others would be furloughed, according to the National Treasury Employees Union. That is an abrupt change from a week ago, when NTEU said the agency would remain “fully operational” and pay its employees on time. The IRS hasn’t publicly released new shutdown contingency plans, but in last year’s plan the agency said it would tap into $60 billion of multi-year funds to stay open during a shutdown.
Experts are urging lawmakers to help the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency shore up some of its key programs. Congress should boost CISA’s authority to find vulnerabilities and threats on other agency networks, according to cyber experts testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee this week. The committee is taking a close look at CISA programs, including Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM). Experts said CISA should work to expand the CDM program to include visibility into Internet of Things devices and operational technology.
Agencies have new guidance to help them target the hands-on skills of job candidates. The new handbook from the Office of Personnel Management details competencies agencies can look for in common governmentwide positions. The resource comes after years of work from OPM. The agency surveyed close to 100,000 feds on what skills they thought would be most useful in their day-to-day work. OPM's update comes after years of pushing agencies to focus on skills rather than education in federal hiring.
A State Department IT contractor is being accused of sharing classified information with an unnamed foreign government. The Justice Department announced the arrest of 50-year-old Abraham Lemma this week. DoJ alleged that between December 2022 and August 2023, Lemma, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Ethiopian descent, copied secret and top-secret information and shared it with a foreign government. The State Department said it discovered the pilfered data after reviewing the security of its top-secret network. That review was sparked by the April arrest of Massachusetts Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira, who has been charged with leaking classified information online.
There is a new level of coordination for the government watchdogs monitoring U.S. assistance to Ukraine. The Department of Defense inspector general has been named the lead IG for Operation Atlantic Resolve. The Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency made that designation yesterday. DoD IG Robert Storch will lead what officials say will be a “comprehensive” approach to oversight, looking for signs of waste, fraud and abuse in the $34 billion the U.S. has allocated so far. He will work closely with the other IG offices involved in overseeing the operation, namely those from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The executive director of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council is stepping down. Margot Conrad held the council's top position for more than two years. In the role, Conrad was tasked with collaborating with human capital leaders across government to help develop and implement new human capital strategies and policies. The Office of Personnel Management is accepting applications for the now-vacant role.
Cisco Systems is buying cybersecurity and data firm Splunk for $28 billion. Cisco announced yesterday it would acquire the company in a cash deal. Cisco said the purchase of Splunk will combine both companies' complementary capabilities in artificial intelligence, security and observability. Splunk sells mostly to the federal government through resellers, so it is unclear how much revenue it derives from agencies. Splunk said it supports both DoD and civilian agencies, including DHS' continuous diagnostic and mitigation program, and has achieved an impact level 5 cloud approval from DoD. Splunk reported its revenue for fiscal 2023 at more than $3.6 billion, up 37% percent from the previous year.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a shortage of health care workers across the country, including within the federal government, according to a recent inspector general report. Agencies listed nurses as one of their most common staffing challenges. The IG found non-competitive pay and a lengthy hiring process made it harder for some agencies to recruit or retain health care workers. Because of these shortages, patients reported longer wait times and lower satisfaction with health care at federal facilities. The report looked at staffing at the departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services, as well as the Justice Department’s Federal Bureau of Prisons.