Before the explosion of the private sector’s low-earth orbit satellite constellations and commercial launch services, the divide between space-based capabilities used for national security purposes and solutions from the commercial sector was considerable. Technological investments by industry have created innovative and cost-effective solutions for the space domain, which can no longer be ignored by the Department of Defense, asserts Gen. Bob Kehler, USAF (Ret.), of Kehler and Associates.
acquisition and contracting
On November 10, Arlington, Virginia-based Raytheon Technologies announced that it would acquire Blue Canyon Technologies. The Boulder, Colorado-based company
manufacturers small satellites and spacecraft systems components. Blue Canyon Technologies will fold into Raytheon 's current Intelligence and Space division after the purcahse closes, which is expected in early 2021, subject to regulatory approvals.
The new concept of employing computerized modeling and virtualization to the acquisition cycle may provide advanced aircraft more quickly to the U.S. Air Force, said Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, USAF, commander, Pacific Air Forces (PACAF); Air Component commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command; and executive director, Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The concept can also be applied to communications, sensors and network systems.
The new PACAF commander spoke at a recent Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies virtual event.
The Department of the Army announced today the discontinuation of both the Asymmetric Warfare Group and the Rapid Equipping Force as the service transitions from counterinsurgency operations to a focus on multi-domain operations and large-scale combat operations.
Companies, especially small businesses, need to mix Best In Class contracts in their business development quiver if they hope to stabilize and grow in today’s government acquisition environment. Although it’s valuable to be on large contract vehicles, if for no other reason than to list them on a corporate website, small firms must be careful not to depend only on them for steady business income.
The success of the new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) will hinge largely on diverse types of contractors sharing information and following security standards, said a panel of experts exploring CMMC ramifications. Speaking at AFCEA’s Virtual CMMC Symposium, the government officials emphasized that the CMMC will be both an opportunity and an obligation to the defense community
Companies should not be intimidated by the multitiered Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), says a panel of experts. The new system is geared for companies to approach it methodically as they learn more about its implementation and requirements.
In a remote session hosted by AFCEA’s Virtual CMMC Symposium, the panelists encouraged companies to proceed through its steps and seek advice from others, particularly prime contractors. Janey Nodeen, president, Burke Consortium Inc., said, “There is a path to success. It’s not as hard as you think, and at the end of the day it’s very, very valuable to your company.
“It is very much a crawl-walk-run approach, and don’t overthink it,” she added.
Ensuring the sanctity of defense information goes beyond keeping secrets from the enemy: it also brings to light vulnerabilities in the supply chain. One of the key tenets of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is to guarantee the sanctity of the supply chain in a time when data is particularly in peril.
A keynote fireside discussion group at AFCEA’s Virtual CMMC Symposium looked at the threats posed to the supply chain in light of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Bob Kolasky, director, National Risk Management Center, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security, provided a powerful presentation in which he pulled no punches about the threat.
“The time is now” for companies to begin implementation of Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) measures, said the chief information security officer for defense acquisition. Katie Arrington, speaking at AFCEA’s Virtual CMMC Symposium, told participants that many CMMC tenets constitute good practices that can—and should—be implemented even before the CMMC is formalized.
“Let’s not wait until it’s required; let’s do it now,” Arrington said. “The time is now.” She added that the country loses $600 billion a year to adversaries, and practicing basic cyber hygiene methods that will be part of CMMC level 1 standards will help companies immensely.
Adapting to great power competition requires improved acquisition operations, and the U.S. Defense Department's acquisition headquarters has been busy revamping contracting practices. The efforts are succeeding in reducing contracting burdens, timelines and workforce hours, and is bringing in more innovation into the DOD, its top leader reports.
The U.S. Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center and the U.S. Army Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross Functional Team intends to award an other transaction agreement to QinetiQ North America to build four light and to Textron to build four medium Robotic Combat Vehicles (RCVs).
Between now and Valentine’s Day, the U.S. Defense Department will begin to build out its unclassified department-wide cloud platform, the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud, known as JEDI. And approximately six months after that, DOD will stand up its secret cloud environment, followed later by the top secret cloud, all part of JEDI, reported Dana Deasy, Defense Department chief information officer, at the AFCEA Nova Chapter’s Air Force IT Day in Arlington, Va., last Thursday.
The modernization, proliferation and commoditization of electronics make contending with peer and near-peer adversaries more difficult, according to Chuck Hoppe, director of science, technology and engineering at the U.S. Army’s Combat Capability Development Command C5ISR Center. “For every good thing we bring out of technology, someone inevitability wants to use it for nefarious purposes. That has been the biggest change in the past 20 years, and it’s what made things significantly more deadly and lethal,” he says.
The Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization (DITCO) is reducing their contracting fee for enterprise acquisition services from 2.5% to 2.25% starting on October 1st, 2019 according to a recent release by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). This will be coinciding with the start of fiscal year 2020.
In a statement, Christopher Barnhurst, DISA’s chief financial officer said, “DITCO’s dedication to controlling costs while evolving service offerings has resulted in the ability to lower fees to customers, thereby enabling reinvestment into lethality for the DOD."
As the Defense Department’s acquisition and sustainment office works to improve the military’s contracting processes, the research and engineering component—newly separated from acquisition and sustainment in a major reorganization last year—is ready for industry advancements, said Doug Schroeder, DASD Space, Strategic and Intelligence Systems and deputy director, National Intelligence Division, Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD).
The Defense Department is pursuing acquisition improvements to improve the effectiveness of its solicitation processes, to advance the cybersecurity of needed solutions and to meet rising adversarial threats, according to Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord.
“We have made significant progress in the field of acquisition reform in 2018,” Lord said. “And in 2019 we will continue efforts to improve the way the department does business.”
The General Services Administration’s current 8(a) STARS II, a small business set-aside governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC), expires in July 2021, and acquisition experts believe the competition for the follow-on contract should begin this year to avoid a lapse in ordering periods.
“Because there will be hundreds of bids to evaluate and there may be protests, the GSA should issue the request for proposal for 8(a) STARS III by July 2019 in order to ensure that there’s no break between STARS II and STARS III,” says Stephanie Mitchell, a U.S. Defense Department and federal government acquisition specialist with BD Squared LLC.
The U.S. Air Force awarded 51 companies contracts with a total initial value of $8.75 million at the Inaugural Air Force Pitch Day. The average amount of time to award contracts and pay companies via government credit card following a successful pitch was 15 minutes; the fastest occurred in only three minutes. Previously, the fastest award of a contract of this type was approximately 90 days.
Small businesses will be invited to submit their best solutions to the U.S. Air Force for the opportunity to participate in pitch sessions scheduled for March 6-7, 2019. Prior to the event, the service will reveal a list of requirements, requesting five-page white papers from organizations describing their products or services. Businesses offering the solutions with most potential will be asked to take part in the two-day event and could receive a one-page contract immediately.
“We did an experiment where we wanted to do 50 contracts in 50 hours. We ended up doing 104 contracts with small business, and that was kind of a dry run [for the upcoming event],” U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said.
To ensure greater supply availability of certain technologies, the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command is pursuing a concept not widely used in the military, reports Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor, USA, commander of the organization and senior commander of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. The command has started a pilot program that will allow the service to option intellectual property rights in specific hardware and software contracts, Gen. Taylor says.
The U.S. Defense Department released the formal request for proposal (RFP) for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract, seeking solicitations for cloud-related services.
"We are excited by the level of interest in JEDI Cloud and appreciate industry's participation throughout the draft solicitation process," DOD stated. "We are confident that these inputs helped us to refine and clarify the DOD's requirement represented in this RFP."