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Acquisition

Tech Transfer Thrives

August 20, 2013

 

Investors, integrators and information technology companies this week will see eight government-developed emerging cybersecurity technologies ready for transition into the commercial sector. Capabilities to be unveiled include intrusion detection, removable media protection, software assurance and malware forensics. The technology demonstration day, which takes place in San José, California, on August 22, gives investors and the business sector the opportunity to view laboratory prototypes of the cybersecurity products in action.

Michael Pozmantier, program manager, Transition-to-Practice, Science and Technology Directorate, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and technology developers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories will be on hand to discuss the capabilities and their potential.

Transition-to-Practice events are held several times a year at locations around the United States.

Federal Budget Cuts
 Encourage a Niche Business

August 1, 2013
By Michael A. Robinson

With the nation facing a new atmosphere of austerity and mandated budget cuts, now would seem to be the absolute worst time to target the federal government for defense-related technology contracts. Yet, for one business, tight government funding is more of an opportunity than a challenge.

After all, the Pentagon faces two massive fiscal challenges. The first is the new lean approach to defense spending following the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Iraq and its preparation to draw down forces from Afghanistan. The second deals with today’s complex political realities. Unable to fashion a bipartisan spending plan, Congress has allowed the process known as “sequestration” to kick in. Those automatic budget cuts are expected to take more than $40 billion out of Defense Department spending this year alone for a reduction of more than 7 percent.

And yet, Timothy Coffin is all smiles as he prepares to pick up more federal information technology contracts. A former U.S. Air Force officer, Coffin serves as president of iGATE Government Solutions, a wholly owned unit of information technology provider iGATE Corporation. As Coffin sees it, the era of tight Pentagon budgets actually provides a great growth opportunity for a contractor that understands the overarching theme of today’s spending environment.

Facing both financial and political headwinds, federal agencies have to take a more creative approach to managing their programs and cash flows. That means they no longer can continue to rely on the same old approaches that have served them for decades.

“I am pretty excited about some of the opportunities I see,” Coffin says. “I’m not going after the $10 million opportunities; I’m going after the $100 million, $200 million opportunities, and we’re getting quite a bit of interest from the government in what we consider our value propositions.

Contract Protest Does Not Change NGEN Vision

August 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

 

The U.S. Navy’s Next-Generation Enterprise Network will introduce a host of new capabilities for users when it is implemented. These improvements will become apparent over time as the system’s flexibility allows for technology upgrades and operational innovation on the part of its users.

The network’s overall goals remain the same despite a protest over the contract award. However the protest is resolved, the program is designed to provide networking at less cost and with more flexibility to adjust for changes that emerge as a result of operational demand or technology improvements. These new capabilities could range from greater use of mobile technologies to virtual desktops dominating user environments.

Terry Halvorsen, Department of the Navy chief information officer, emphasizes that the user community at first will see little change when the Next-Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) begins operation. The Navy’s goal is for a seamless changeover from the existing Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) to NGEN. “The user community initially won’t see any differences as we move forward in NGEN,” he says. “Everything we’re doing initially should be transparent to the user, and we have good plans in place to make that happen.”

NGEN aims to serve 800,000 users, 400,000 workstations and 2,500 locations in the United States and Japan. The Navy’s Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet will be operating the network with full command and control. Contractor personnel will perform some hands-on activities.

Collaborative Portal Opens Business Opportunity Doors

July 18, 2013

General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems has created a portal to facilitate collaboration among experts from multiple industries in a secure, controlled, cooperative environment. GDNexus matches innovative solutions to customer requirements across the defense, federal government, intelligence community and commercial markets.

Registered members of the community are notified immediately when new Need Statements are announced and can respond through the portal with products and services that fulfill the requirements. The GDNexus team reviews and evaluates the responses and then sends the potential customers an assessment of the proffered solution.

The team also sends feedback to members to help them enhance their product strategy and align technology road maps to future requirements. Subject matter experts from General Dynamics work directly with technology providers, providing insight and perspective. “GDNexus also provides another important mechanism for us to act as an honest broker, bringing innovative technologies to our customers quickly as a prime systems integrator,” Nadia Short, vice president, strategy and business development, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, says.

The first customer Need Statements focus on the cyber domain and are now available in the portal. GDNexus member companies currently include NetApp and RSA.

Corporate Espionage Concerns Could Affect Contracting

July 17, 2013

Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee that he is concerned about the level of cyber attacks affecting defense suppliers. As a result, he is considering changes in contracting procedures to mitigate the risk of corporate espionage. “I’m talking particularly about design information that might not be classified, but if you acquire that information, it certainly shortens your lead time to building things, and it reduces your costs,” he told committee members. “That’s an advantage we don’t want to give our potential adversaries.”

Kendall expressed his concerns during his testimony in support of the reauthorization of the Defense Production Act, which grants the president the power to ensure timely procurement of essential services and materials during war or national emergencies. Parts of the act are set to expire on September 30, 2014.

The law is an urgent operational requirement that is as necessary today as it was in 1950 when it was enacted, Kendall said. “Industry has no obligation to prioritize national security requirements, and at times, they’re financially motivated to do otherwise,” he stated. “New, expanded and modernized domestic industrial capabilities reduce the risk of foreign dependencies caused by geopolitical factors or other economic issues and strengthen the economic and technological competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers.”

NGEN Protest Halts Contract Work

July 16, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Implementation of the U.S. Navy’s $3.5 billion Next-Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) will have to wait until a protest by two of the companies that did not receive the contract is upheld or rejected. The U.S. Government Accountability Office has until October 23 to rule on the challenge.

Defense Department Issues First Acquisition Report

July 15, 2013

Lawmakers now are reviewing the U.S. Defense Department’s first annual data-driven review of purchasing. Officially titled “Performance of the Defense Acquisition System, 2013 Annual Report,” the document is the first publication of an annual effort to sift through the mountain of data available on the department’s purchases and to determine which work and which don’t. The point of the report, says Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, “is to help us all figure out ways to do a better job with [acquisition]” and ultimately to ensure more and better products.

Despite significant improvement in some areas, Kendall maintains that there is “considerable room for improvement.” The report serves to reinforce the need for the Pentagon’s Better Buying Power Initiative, which was announced nearly three years ago, he adds.

A Joint Environment Changes Everything

July 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

Rear Adm. Robert Day Jr., USCG, assistant U.S. Coast Guard commandant for command, control, communications and information technology, sees the Joint Information Environment as an opportunity to resolve some of the most pressing information technology problems in the years to come as he faces a future with more challenges and fewer resources. He says a military-wide common operating environment will establish “enterprisewide mandates that programs cannot ignore.”

The admiral told the recent AFCEA Solutions Series–George Mason University Symposium, “Critical Issues in C4I,” the Joint Information Environment (JIE) will allow for more efficient system configurations and facilitate consolidation of the Coast Guard’s information technology work force. As the director of the U.S. Coast Guard Cyber Command, he also is mindful that the JIE will improve his ability to control what devices are attached to the network, giving him, for example, the opportunity to quickly detect and order the removal of an unauthorized USB thumb drive inserted into a secure network computer.

Hewing to the reality of doing more with less, the admiral also told conference attendees that within the next eight months, the Coast Guard is expected to move to the U.S. Defense Department’s enterprise email system. Adm. Day stated that even though this move initially may cost more in some cases, the long-term benefits to the service will mitigate and justify some of those costs. In addition, acknowledging the futility of reinventing the wheel, he noted that the Coast Guard is adopting the U.S. Air Force’s Virtual Flight Bag, which replaces nearly 300 pounds of printed manuals and charts carried aboard aircraft by crews. Apple iPads will be loaded with digital copies of the same material.

Resource Reductions Dominate Planning

July 1, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

Today’s financial skimping will lead to military forces and equipment that are short on readiness for future conflicts. Cutbacks in training and travel to conferences where service members network, learn about the latest in technologies and benefit from educational courses is one way to meet mandated budget cuts; but in the long term, they will result in service members who are ill-prepared to meet the challenges of what some believe will be a volatile future. Simultaneously, reductions in maintenance of vehicles, networks and ships will result in higher repair bills much like a car that is not routinely taken to the shop ends up costing the owner more to fix in the long run.

This was the general consensus of the military, government and industry experts who spoke at the East: Joint Warfighting 2013 conference at the Virginia Beach Convention Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in May. The participants represented all of the military services as well as the international community.

Adm. William E. Gortney, USN, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, opened the event saying that the military and industry are facing a decade of change and choices. As the services are ramping down from combat mode, they are refocusing on the Pacific theater, which is more of an intellectual shift in Washington, D.C., than a military change, Adm. Gortney said. While resources are on the decline now, the admiral believes economics is and always has been a sine wave, up at times and down at others. The U.S. Defense Department’s budget will increase again, and the department must be ready. “The only way we’re going to get through this is to lead our way to the other side,” the admiral said.

The Bottom Line: Military Operational Paradigm Shifts

June 17, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

Up until now, elected officials, in consultation with military and intelligence experts, have made strategic national decisions about the role of the United States in global security. But the current congressional budgeting approach is turning this procedure on its head: military leaders will tell the elected what they can accomplish with the appropriated resources.

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