Federal contracting dollars for women-owned small business remain below 5%

In today's Federal Newscast: FEMA is asking the public to test features on its mobile app. Military records destroyed in a 1973 fire leave some vets from the 19...

  • Federal Bureau of Prisons officers are concerned about the ripple effects of an end to their pay bonuses. By January, hundreds of BOP officers will see the loss of pay-based retention incentives. The pay bonuses for officers at Thomson Federal Prison in Illinois helped improve staffing gaps, according to BOP officials. But with an expiration date of Dec. 31, the American Federation of Government Employees is concerned about a reversal: more staff attrition ahead and other big problems for the federal facility. AFGE is urging BOP to extend the retention incentive and stave off potentially worsening workplace conditions.
  • The Defense Department's move to zero trust is getting some next level specifics next week. In three days, the military services and defense agencies have to submit their zero trust implementation plans to the DoD chief information officer's office. A team of 25 people then will spend the next 4-6 weeks analyzing those roughly 43 plans to see how they will meet the minimum set of zero trust capabilities by 2027. Randy Resnick, the director of the Zero Trust Architecture Program Management Office in the DoD Office of the Chief Information Officer, said DoD then will brief lawmakers in January about the results of this analysis. DoD developed a standard template for these reports earlier this year to ensure consistent evaluation criteria.
    (Randy Resnick, director of the Zero Trust Architecture Program Management Office in the DoD Office of the Chief Information Officer - DoD)
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is helping veterans track down military service records destroyed decades ago, but it is taking some time. A fire at a National Archives and Records Administration facility in 1973 destroyed more than 18 million Army and Air Force personnel files. That makes it hard for veterans, who served in either branch in the 1960s, to prove their service. The Veterans Benefits Administration helps impacted veterans track down service records when applying for benefits. But a watchdog report said those claims take about 450 days on average. That’s compared to 146 days for veterans not impacted by the records fire.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency wants the public’s help in testing out technology. FEMA is asking people to sign up to serve as beta testers for its mobile application. Selected candidates will be contacted by email and invited to try out new features, before they are released more broadly. The goal is to improve user experience, accessibility and, ultimately, the functionality of the app for disaster survivors and other users. The FEMA app currently rates just 3.2 out of five stars on the Apple’s app store.
  • Phishing attacks continue to be the primary weapon of choice for hackers. Federal agencies are urging organizations to adopt multifactor authentication, and other tools, to stop attackers in their tracks. That advice is part of a new joint guide released by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the National Security Agency and the FBI. They point to phishing-resistant multifactor authentication as the primary way to stop hackers from stealing log-in details, while endpoint detection and response can prevent them from deploying malware through email or text messages.
  • The Veterans Affairs Department's supply chain modernization efforts get a big win at the Government Accountability Office. GAO denied a pre-proposal protest by IBM over the terms of the solicitation for the estimated $5 billion contract. GAO said IBM's claims that the solicitation's evaluation factors are unduly restrictive were not supported. IBM alleged VA's requirement to assess a vendor's financial liquidity and solvency was meaningless and using an all-or-nothing evaluation approach was unreasonable. Through this acquisition, VA is seeking technology and support to modernize how they manage the supply chain to support more than 300 warehouses, 4,000 facilities and 170 hospitals.
  • Small businesses could find it easier to work on contracts that require them to have a facility security clearance. The Small Business Administration released new guidance that clarifies the process for contractors who work on classified projects. One of the major changes in this new policy is the clarification that small firms whose employees do not work on classified information would not need a facility security clearance. SBA and the National Industrial Security Program updated these regulations to try to reduce the confusion over how the two organizations' policies interact.
    (Facility Security Clearance requirements clarified with new guidance help reduce confusion - The Small Business Administration and the Department of Defense)
  • The Defense Department will need to take a lesson from Ukraine and increase the speed it deploys commercially available drones. Experts told House lawmakers that the department’s Replicator program needs agile acquisition and budgeting practices. Experts said the program will need to work with industry and prototype quickly, but worried that red tape will get in the way of innovation. Replicator is designed to scale the use of commercial drones and deter adversaries.
  • Federal HR workers will soon see training opportunities in strategic human capital management. The Office of Personnel Management will offer several training sessions in the coming months to employees who conduct HR evaluations. Space is limited to 25 participants per training course and OPM gives priority to those who have not previously attended. To register, federal employees must fill out an application form from OPM. The training courses will be available both virtually and in person until next September.
    (Human capital framework evaluator training - Office of Personnel Management)
  • The Small Business Administration is looking to get more women entrepreneurs to compete for government contracts. SBA is hosting an event next Tuesday to train small business owners on how to navigate the federal marketplace. In fiscal 2022, the federal government awarded nearly $163 billion in contracts to small businesses, exceeding its target. But a government-wide goal to have 5% of federal contracting dollars go to women-owned small business has not been met since fiscal 2019.

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