Four weeks ago, this blog focused on how the proposed BIC MAC program essentially duplicates the MAS program. Two weeks ago, Part 2 of this blog series focused on adding cost reimbursement capability for the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program. This week, in Part 3 of this series, we examine the unprecedented success of OASIS SB and OASIS Unrestricted in delivering best value mission support to customer agencies for complex, professional services, especially the Department of Defense (DoD).
In an era of great challenges, including the pandemic response and aftermath, climate change, and increasing competition with near-peer adversaries across a host of spheres, government efficiency and effectiveness are critical to our nation. OASIS SB and OASIS play a strategic role in achieving that efficiency and effectiveness across government. For example, OASIS SB serves as a strategic contract vehicle for the United States Air Force, delivering best value mission support while enhancing opportunities for small business. The following chart shows the unprecedented growth of OASIS SB and OASIS over the last five years. The information is from the OASIS dashboard.
Demand is a real-world measure of program acceptance and utility. At present, OASIS SB and OASIS constitute the largest, most successful professional services IDIQ program in government. There are key pillars on which the program’s success in supporting customer requirements rests. First, the OASIS program’s best value evaluation criteria construct brings high value, sophisticated capabilities to the government. This construct has yielded a pool of highly capable contractors for both constituent parts, OASIS AND OASIS SB, delivering best value mission support to customer agencies. This best value pool of contractors, combined with the streamlined competitive ordering procedures, is key to meeting customer needs.
Second, the creation of two contract vehicles, OASIS SB and OASIS Unrestricted, has streamlined decision-making regarding small business opportunities and meeting overall small business goals. OASIS SB, as a separate stand-alone, small business IDIQ, enhances acquisition planning and reduces administrative barriers regarding setting aside task orders. To GSA’s credit, the result has been impressive. OASIS SB accounts for just over 40 percent of the cumulative obligations under the program, well above the governmentwide goal of 23 percent.
As the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) considers the way forward for the OASIS follow-on, maintaining the best value construct and the small business construct will be critical to the future success of the program. Building on that foundation, enhancements to the core model can and should be considered. For example, simplifying the OASIS pool structure will enhance total solutions, reduce duplication, and lower administrative burdens. Simplifying the pool structure also provides opportunities to effectively increase/expand the scope of services offered via the OASIS follow-on. FAS should consider a contract scope that embraces data analytics and associated capabilities, along with services addressing sustainability. FAS, to its credit, is looking at each of these enhancements.
In addition, FAS should include automatic transfer provisions in the follow-on program that will allow small business contractors who have outgrown the applicable size standard to move directly from the separate SB IDIQ to the unrestricted IDIQ. Another enhancement would see greater upfront guidance/flexibility around deviations and substitutions for labor qualifications at the task order level. Finally, given the strategic importance of the OASIS program, FAS should bring together an integrated acquisition team, the best from across the service, to conduct the procurement. Such a step will make a powerful statement regarding the critical role the program plays in meeting customer agency requirements.
The stakes are high for GSA, customer agencies, and industry partners. In sum, an OASIS follow-on that maintains the best value and small business features of the current OASIS program can continue as a strategic, best value procurement tool in the toolbox for customer agencies. It will also continue to complement the MAS program, bringing the unique capabilities and features of both models to customer agencies. In contrast, abandoning the current OASIS SB and OASIS will have profound implications. Contract duplication will result as customer agencies look to create their own contract vehicles to meet their strategic mission needs. Moreover, creating a BIC MIC that essentially mirrors the MAS program will confuse the market and undermine the value proposition for both programs.
Given the critical importance of this program, GSA is to be commended for its proactive outreach and engagement with all stakeholders. In that spirit, the Coalition members stand ready to continue the engagement with all stakeholders on this strategic contract program.
The Spring Training Conference is less than two weeks away! The Coalition is excited to bring our members this two-day virtual experience on May 19-20 that includes a diverse assembly of speakers from multiple agencies, such as the General Services Administration (GSA), the Department of Defense (DoD), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). We would like to thank and recognize our current sponsors for this event, including Title Sponsors: AvKARE and First Nation Group; Gold Sponsors: AvMEDICAL, CACI, SheppardMullin, and The Gormley Group; and Silver Sponsors: Concordance Healthcare Solutions and PilieroMazza.
We are thrilled to confirm that the event will commence with a keynote address delivered by Michael Parrish, the VA’s Chief Acquisition Officer and Principal Executive Director of the Office of Acquisition, Logistics, and Construction. We are also pleased to announce that the second day will feature a keynote address from Sonny Hashmi, Commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service. The conference is titled The Biden Administration’s Priorities and the Role of Acquisition, and we have formed an agenda of panels that will discuss the impact that these priorities have on agency operations as well as Government contractors. A few of these sessions are highlighted below:
COVID Logistics and Acquisition. This panel will address the Federal Government’s COVID-19 response and how agencies have worked to deliver care to the American people during the pandemic, and at the same time, continue critical agency missions like national security. The panel features Brigadier General David Sanford, Commander of the Defense Supply Center Richmond and Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, who serves as the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s COVID-19 Supply Chain Task Force. Soraya Correa, Chief Procurement Officer at the Department of Homeland Security, has been invited to participate.
Sustainable Procurement. The Sustainable Procurement panel, moderated by George Washington University Law Professor Steve Schooner, includes environmental leaders from across the Government who will address the Biden Administration’s approach to sustainability as a top priority, as well as how agencies are supporting these efforts. Speakers include Sonal Larsen, GSA’s Senior Advisor to the Administrator for Climate, Holly Elwood, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Senior Advisor for the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program and Porter Glock, Procurement Analyst for the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy.
Buy American and Domestic Sourcing. Comprised of speakers from both Government and industry, this panel will cover domestic sourcing topics, including the factors needed to develop a secure and resilient supply chain, lessons learned from recent supply chain vulnerabilities, and the reshoring approach. We have confirmed that Kim Herrington, DoD’s Principal Director/Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy, Scott Calisti, Defense Price and Contracting’s Director of Contract Policy, and Jean Heilman Grier, Principal and Manager of Trade Practice at Djaghe LLC, will be participating. Dr. Gary Disbow, the Department of Human and Health Services’ (HHS) Director for Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, has also been invited to join the panel. The discussion will be moderated by Moshe Schwartz, President of Etherton and Associates.
Small Business Opportunities. Another important session that we will be holding in the afternoon of May 19 is a discussion of small business opportunities under the Biden Administration. Representatives from GSA’s and the VA’s Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, as well as the Small Business Administration’s Office of Government Contracting & Business Development, have been invited to share insights and updates from their respective agencies on programs assisting small businesses. Coalition Small Business Committee Chairs Ken Dodds, Government Contracting Industry Expert at Live Oak Bank, and David Black, Partner at Holland & Knight will serve as the moderators.
Numerous other must-attend panels are on the agenda, as well, covering critical issue areas, like:
- Cyber and the supply chain,
- Priorities from the Federal Acquisition Service,
- GSA systems and the Multiple Award Schedule,
- IT modernization, the “VA Modernization Initiative,”
- Oversight from the VA’s Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office, and
- Insights from the Senate.
All sessions will provide valuable information to those who attend.
We encourage members to please review the full agenda here. The registration page for the 2021 Spring Training Conference can be found here. For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Matt Cahill at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to the conference, and hope that you will join us in May.
GSA Ends TAA Waiver for Certain Products on GSA Schedules
The General Services Administration (GSA) allowed an exception to the Trade Agreements Act (TAA) to lapse on April 30, 2021. Previously, GSA had allowed the sale of certain non-TAA compliant items on the GSA Schedules in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. GSA had released a request for information on March 25, 2021, and based on the feedback received, they determined that TAA compliant sources are now available to Federal buyers.
GSA began issuing unilateral contract modifications on May 1 to remove the non-TAA compliant items. GSA will also ensure that the products are removed from GSA Advantage.
The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) released the results from their 2020 supplier survey, which shows that DLA received an above average rating from industry. The survey included responses from more than 2,800 DLA suppliers, including manufacturers, distributers, and service providers. The results of the survey showed that suppliers ratings of DLA improved in three areas: communication, supplier relationship, and DLA effectiveness. Supplier ratings for growth and profit potential declined since the previous survey. The results of the survey are shown in the graph below.
Additional findings based on DLA supplier business size and sales are included in DLA’s slides available here. As part of DLA’s briefing to its industry partner associations, it also published its plans for upcoming industry days, which are:
- Distribution Industry Day (June 9)
- Land & Maritime Industry Roundtable (August 24)
- Troop Support Clothing & Textile Joint Advanced Planning for Industry (November 2021)
- Research & Development Industry & Collider Day (November 2021)
- Energy Worldwide Energy Conference (March 28-30, 2022)
For more information about these events, visit www.dla.mil/Info/strategicplan/IndustryEngagementPlan/.
GSA’s MAS Spring Newsletter
GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program has released its Spring 2021 newsletter. Highlighted in this quarter’s issue are several key developments related to the program-
- An overview of the upcoming changes in the MAS solicitation Refresh #6, including implementation of GSA’s new Verified Products Portal;
- An update on the FY2020 results of the Transactional Data Reporting (TDR) pilot and potential next steps;
- The current waiver of certain MAS requirements for offerings that support the COVID-19 response; and
- The results of GSA’s survey on the Vendor Support Center and plans to update the site by the end of FY2021 based on the feedback received.
Members are encouraged to review the MAS newsletter for the latest developments with the program. To access it, click here.
On May 4, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and GSA announced a revised and more flexible distribution model for the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF). On March 11, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, which provided $1 billion to TMF. The new distribution model focuses on urgent IT modernization needs, heightening cybersecurity defenses, encouraging cross-agency collaboration, improving the delivery of Government services for all Americans, and supporting services that can be used for impact across the Government.
According to Federal Chief Information Officer Clare Martorana, the resources created through TMF funding will help the Government respond better to the SolarWinds breach, the COVID-19 crisis, and support the economic recovery. Katy Kale, Acting GSA Administrator, stated that the updated model creates clarity and flexibility needed for agencies to prioritize technology, while creating better relationships between the public and Federal Government.
Agency proposals submitted to the TMF board should be submitted by June 2, 2021 for priority consideration and will otherwise be considered on a rolling basis. The TMF board is giving top priority to the following categories:
- Modernizing high-priority systems;
- Public-facing digital services; and
- Cross-Government services and infrastructure.
On May 5, GSA hosted an online Stakeholder Forum detailing changes coming after SAM.gov and beta.SAM.gov merge into one entity on May 24. The event was recorded and will be posted on GSA Interact at a later date. Improvements will be made to entity search functions utilizing feedback received from users. Improvements include a more streamlined user experience, advanced filters that can be found on the same page as search results, the display of filters in an easy-to-use list, a “Status Tracker” tool to check the status of an entity’s registration, and more. To learn more, read the Before and After Comparison Guide.
Additionally, there will be a new Workspace that is different than the “My SAM” space. When signing into SAM.gov on May 24, users will be presented with the new Workspace. The Workspace serves as a customized dashboard that displays roles, messages, activities, and profiles. The dashboard will allow users to manage their activity across all domains from beta.SAM.gov and SAM.gov, including items they are following, saved searches, role requests, reports, renewals, system accounts, and records. Workspaces will be unique depending on the roles and activities of the user. Current roles in SAM.gov will transfer from legacy SAM.gov to the updated environment.
JEDI Cloud Contract Litigation Continues
Federal News Network reported that a Federal judge rejected motions by the Department of Defense (DoD) and Microsoft to partially dismiss Amazon Web Services’ lawsuit challenging the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI). DoD and Microsoft asked the Court of Federal Claims (COFC) to dismiss the portion of the lawsuit that alleges the JEDI cloud contract was tainted by conflicts of interest. This decision has caused doubt about whether DoD will try to proceed with the JEDI contract. In a January information paper sent to Congress, the Department stated that the litigation process would become much more complex if the court agreed to allow Amazon to try to prove the allegations, which would mean that DoD would have to reassess its strategy going forward.
Senators Announce Bipartisan Effort to Improve Public Health and Medical Preparedness
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), the ranking member of the HELP Committee, announced the beginning of bipartisan discussions to better prepare the Federal Government for future public health emergencies. The Senators plan to work on legislative proposals aimed at strengthening the Government’s response to public health emergencies and modernizing its medical preparedness and response systems, including the Strategic National Stockpile. The proposals would include a bill to improve and secure the supply chain for critical medicines. An additional proposal would modernize the development of medical countermeasures needed to respond to public health threats.
The legislative proposals are expected to be introduced to the Committee in the fall and would include other legislative proposals to strengthen state and local governments’ response to health emergencies.
Better Data to Improve DoD Oversight
DoD is seeking better data to improve its oversight of acquisition policies so they can properly assess investments and risks, Federal Computer Week reports. Shelby Oakley, Director of Contracting and National Security Acquisition for the Government Accountability Office (GAO), said that the data-driven oversight is the biggest challenge facing the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment.
DoD’s acquisition offices and military services are working through what data is necessary and how to receive transparent data from the military services. DoD is working on policies to create a standardized process to collect data from the military services, stated Stacy Cummings, Acting Undersecretary for DoD’s Acquisition and Sustainment. DoD is projected to have the data standards completed by the end of 2021. There is a plan to pilot initial metrics that have been identified using manual data collection for a select number of programs. The goal is to apply the data to find and analyze trends in a way that can affect outcomes and permit the Office of the Secretary of Defense to better oversee its acquisition policies.
DHS Announces CDO Office and CMMC-Like Pilot
According to Fedscoop, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is standing up an Office of the Chief Data Officer (CDO). Acting CDO Carlene Ileto is focusing on eight data domains, including cybersecurity and law enforcement. The office will identify leaders for each of these eight domains to help with information sharing and the modernization of DHS’ IT systems. Through the work of its Zero Trust Action Group, DHS is embedding security into all of its IT networks and infrastructure.
Additionally, DHS is working to develop a supply chain risk management program similar to the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). The purpose of the program is to implement vendor due diligence assessments and software assurance processes to understand the origin of commercial-off-the-shelf products before they are purchased. If any issues are identified, DHS will remove companies from its IT supply chains. DHS will solicit feedback from vendors during the pilot process.
The Legal Corner provides the legal community with an opportunity to share insights and comments on legal issues of the day. The comments herein do not necessarily reflect the views of The Coalition for Government Procurement.
Back in May 2019, the Trump Administration issued Executive Order 13873, which was meant to police the use of certain information and communications technology and services (ICTS) purchased from “foreign adversaries.” Then, on the day before the Trump Administration left office in January 2021, the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) issued interim regulations intended to secure ICTS supply chains (ICTS Interim Rule).
There was much speculation as to whether the Biden Administration would utilize this new tool or if it would simply be pushed aside as another turn away from Trump-era policies. However, with no adjustments by the Biden Administration, the ICTS Interim Rule went into effect on March 22, 2021.1 In fact, the Biden Administration embraced the concept even before the new regulations took effect. On March 17, 2021, Commerce issued subpoenas to multiple Chinese companies seeking information about their ICTS operations in the United States.
ICTS Rule Overview
Under the ICTS Interim Rule, Commerce can prohibit or otherwise restrict, on a case-by-case basis, certain acquisition and use transactions (including individual commercial sales) that 1) were initiated, pending or completed on or after Jan. 19, 2021; 2) involve ICTS and 3) were “designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied” by a person under the control of, owned by or subject to the jurisdiction of a “foreign adversary.” At present, named “foreign adversaries” include China (including Hong Kong), Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela. The list, however, is not static and may be reviewed and revised at the discretion of the U.S. Secretary of Commerce (Secretary).
Changes from Proposed Rule and Continuing Barriers
Unlike the proposed rule, the procedural flaws of which were addressed in a previous Holland & Knight alert (see “Proposed ICTS Supply Chain Review Regime Raises Procedural Concerns,” Dec. 26, 2019), the ICTS Interim Rule has a more defined and limited scope — applying to transactions with six specific, named “foreign adversaries” that involve an ICTS hardware, software or technology product from one of six sectors. Importantly, the ICTS Interim Rule also:
- develops review protocols
- defines key terms (e.g., “undue or unacceptable” risk)
- develops a mechanism for parties to request a meeting with Commerce officials following an initial determination (which the Secretary of Commerce can decline, at his or her discretion)
- confirms that the Secretary can consider mitigating factors when evaluating a ICTS Transaction risk, and
- sets a clock on Commerce’s review, generally requiring the final determination be issued within 180 days of the review’s commencement2
In some respects, however, the ICTS Interim Rule retains the overly inclusive nature of the proposed rule. By way of example, the Secretary continues to be able to scrutinize U.S. persons’ acquisition or use of ICTS, such as cloud and network management or data storage, in all industries.
Transactions Subject to Review
An “ICTS Transaction” covers acquisitions, transfers, installations, import and dealings in or use of ICTS that occurred on or after Jan. 19, 2021, as well as ongoing activities such as transmissions, software updates, platforming or data hosting for consumer downloads, and managed services. Therefore, even if the underlying contract was entered into before Jan. 19, 2021, installation of subsequent software updates may be reviewable as a new, separate ICTS transaction.3
To trigger the review process, the ICTS transaction must meet certain criteria. First, the ICTS must fall into one of the following six product and technology categories.
- Critical Infrastructure: ICTS transactions in one of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors identified in and any subsectors or subsequently designated sectors, which includes, but is not limited to information technology and communications sectors and has overlap with, but is not a direct replica of covered investment critical infrastructure sectors identified by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)
- Network Infrastructure: ICTS that is integral to software, hardware, or any other product or service integral to wireless local area networks, mobile networks, satellite payloads, satellite operations and control, cable access points, wireline access points, core networking systems, or long- and short-haul systems
- Data Hosting or Computing of Sensitive Personal Data: ICTS that is integral to data hosting or computing services that engage with sensitive personal data4 on greater than 1 million U.S. persons at any point in the 12 months prior to an ICTS transaction (readers familiar with the CFIUS review process will note that the ICTS Interim Rule’s definition of personal data generally tracks that offered by CFIUS)
- Popular Surveillance and Monitoring Devices, Home Networking Devices: If 1 million units of such item at issue have been sold to U.S. persons at any point in the 12 months prior to an ICTS transaction
- Popular Communications Software: Software designed primarily for connecting with and communicating via the internet that is in use by greater than 1 million U.S. persons at any point in the 12 months prior to an ICTS transaction, including desktop, mobile, web-based and gaming applications, or
- Emerging Technology: ICTS that is integral to artificial intelligence and machine learning, quantum key distribution, quantum computing, drones, autonomous systems or advanced robotics
Second, the ICTS product must be sourced (i.e., supplied, developed, manufactured or designed), by a person controlled by, owned or subject to the direction or jurisdiction of a named “foreign adversary” — at present, China (including Hong Kong), Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia or Venezuela. To put into context, to determine whether a non-Chinese entity is controlled by China, the Secretary may considers factors such as whether the non-Chinese entity or its suppliers conduct key operations (e.g., research and development, manufacturing, testing and distribution) in China, or have key personnel, employees, consultants or contractors in China.
Transactions Not Covered by ICTS Interim Rule
Only two transaction types are not covered by the ICTS Interim Rule:
- acquisition transactions involving ICTS items authorized under a U.S. government-industrial security program
- transactions reviewed or being reviewed by CFIUS
Proceed with caution, however, as Commerce retains the authority to review an ICTS transaction if it is separate from, and subsequent to, a transaction that CFIUS reviewed. Therefore, CFIUS review related to a particular ICTS, by itself, does not constitute a safe harbor for future transactions involving the same ICTS.
Further, although Commerce has not explicitly excluded them, it has indicated that transactions involving ICTS hardware devices such as handsets will not be of particular interest to the agency.
Mechanics of Commerce’s Review and Penalties
Commerce can initiate a review unilaterally (i.e., at the Secretary’s discretion), or at the referral of an appropriate agency head or a private party (e.g., industry competitor). Commerce’s review will generally last 180 days, from day of acceptance to final determination, and will begin with Commerce evaluating a non-exhaustive list of 10 criteria to answer one threshold question: Is the ICTS transaction likely to pose an “undue or unacceptable risk” to U.S. national security?
- If it likely does not, Commerce will terminate the review without prejudice, meaning the agency can revisit the transaction should additional information come to light.
- If it likely does, Commerce, in interagency consultation with other appropriate agencies (including, but not limited to, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of State), will determine whether the ICTS transaction actually poses an undue or unacceptable risk, looking at the same 10 non-exhaustive criteria, and serve its initial determination.5 Interestingly, Commerce has a choice in how it serves the parties — either through publication in the Federal Register or via more traditional routes such as U.S. registered mail, electronic mail, etc.
Commerce’s initial determination will 1) explain the agency’s basis for prohibiting the transaction or imposing mitigating measures thereon and 2) allow parties 30 days to comment. If the parties respond, Commerce must commence another interagency consultation round to consider any new evidence or argument. If the parties fail to respond, Commerce can proceed without further interagency consultation. Commerce will then publish its final determination, either permitting, prohibiting or imposing mitigating measures on the transaction, in the Federal Register. No further administrative appeals process is available, and violations of Commerce’s final determinations or imposed mitigation measures can result in severe criminal and civil liabilities (up to $307,922 or twice the value of a transaction per violation).
Conclusion and Next Steps
Given bipartisan support for decreasing dependence on China in critical supply chains and the Secretary’s own statements that ICTS sourced from China warrant increased scrutiny, it is anticipated that a healthy number of Commerce’s reviews will have a China nexus.6 For advice on how the ICTS Interim Rule may impact your operations or for assistance in commenting on the preclearance and licensing procedures by April 28, 2021, please reach out to the experienced attorneys in Holland & Knight’s International Trade Group.
1 Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain, 86 Fed. Reg. 4913 (U.S. Department of Commerce, Jan. 19, 2021).
2 However, the Secretary may unilaterally extend that deadline if he or she determines additional time is necessary.
3 Commerce explains that any subsequent act or service with respect to an ICTS transaction, such as installation of software updates is an ICTS transaction on the date that the service or update is provided.
4 Sensitive personal data includes personally identifiable information collected by a U.S. business operating in a specific area and results of individual genetic testing.
5 However, the Secretary may unilaterally extend that deadline if he or she determines additional time is necessary.
6 Press Release, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo Statement on Actions Taken Under ICTS Supply Chain Executive Order(March 17, 2021).
Healthcare Spotlight: Member Questions for Healthcare Dialogue at Spring Conference
The Coalition is excited to provide our healthcare members with opportunities at the upcoming Spring Training Conference on May 19-20 to engage with acquisition leaders from the VA, DHA and DLA. In order to make the briefings and dialogue at the conference most informative, the government speakers from the following sessions have asked about the topics and questions that are of most interest to members.
VA Modernization Panel
- Andrew Centineo, Executive Director, Procurement and Logistics, VHA
- Phil Christy, OALC Deputy Executive Director, VA
VA FSS Breakout
- Dan Shearer, FSS Director, VA
DLA MSPV Breakout
- Dan Keefe, Director, Supplier Operations Medical Supply Chain
- Steve Bollendorf, Chief, DLA Med/Surg Prime Vendor Program
We hope that members will take advantage of this opportunity and share their questions. Please send your questions and/or topics of interest to Aubrey Woolley at email@example.com by COB Tuesday, May 11. We will be sure to share them with our VA and DLA speakers in advance of the conference. (Please note that the questions to DHA’s Pharmacy Operations have already been sent to Col. Gmehlin and Dr. Trang and were coordinated through the Pharmaceutical Subcommittee. There will also be time for members to ask questions live during the DHA Pharma breakout session.)
“Civilian Cybersecurity Reserve Corps” Proposed to Address Workforce Shortages
A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the Civilian Cybersecurity Reserve pilot program, which will help defend U.S. national security interests, reported AirForceTimes. The pilot program would allow DoD and DHS to bring in former Federal employees and military veterans, who are trained in the field, on to the workforce.
Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the Civilian Cyber Security Reserve Act on April 22, 2021. Lawmakers think that the Civilian Cybersecurity Reserve Corps may give the Federal Government new tools to protect networks and identify bad actors. All members of the Civilian Cybersecurity Reserve Corps must have an active security clearance. Sen. Rosen believes that it is critical to find innovative ways to address the severe cyber workforce shortage. The United States has approximately 320,000 openings for cybersecurity positions, and a shortage of 13,700 information security analysts. If enacted, DoD and DHS would have 180 days to establish their pilot programs.
Off the Shelf: The State of Interagency Contracting
This week on Off the Shelf, Alan Thomas, Chief Operating Officer at IntelliBridge, discussed the state of interagency contracting, focusing on the Federal Acquisition Service’s (FAS) portfolio of Governmentwide contract vehicles.
Thomas provided his take on FAS’ progress to date on BIC MAC and the implications for the Federal services market, and shared his thoughts on the impact of Schedules consolidation on customer agencies and contractors.
Thomas gave his thoughts on the potential for FAS Civilian Enterprise Office Solutions (CEOS), an acquisition which could improve security, drive standardization, and capability for remote work.
Thomas, as former FAS Commissioner, provided his unique perspective on technology modernization and the key budget priorities signaled by the Congressional commitment to the IT Modernization Fund.
Finally, he addressed supply chain and cybersecurity opportunities and challenges facing Government and industry, including the role of the Federal Acquisition Security Council.
Click here to listen to the full show.
Federal Employee Survey Highlights COVID-19’s Impact on the Workforce
This week Federal News Network reported on the 2020 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) conducted by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The 2020 survey included new questions about the pandemic and its impact on Federal employees. According to the survey results, before the pandemic, only three percent of the Federal workforce teleworked every day. At the height of the pandemic, 59 percent of employees teleworked. The FEVS showed that agencies expanded telework to their employees. Prior to the pandemic, 24 percent of the workforce did not telework because they had to be physically present for the job. This number dropped to 16 percent at the pandemic’s peak, then grew to 18 percent last fall. Click here to view an infogram on the impact of the pandemic on the Federal workforce.
According to the FEVS results, 82 percent of those who teleworked said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their agency’s telework program. Only five percent were dissatisfied. OPM also reported a correlation between telework participation and employee engagement. Employees who telework at least three or four days a week were more engaged than those who were unable to telework. Many employees reported that the pandemic had an impact on their ability to effectively work. About 86 percent of the workforce said that their work unit has achieved their goals during the pandemic, which is a six percent drop from before COVID-19.
DoD EHR Rollout Continues
The DoD electronic health record system (EHR) has added facilities in twelve new states reports FedScoop. The pandemic originally caused a delay in EHR expansion, but the expansion is back on track. The EHR is live in over 600 military treatment facilities and there are over 41,000 active users, including 10,000 clinicians that were added in the new rollout. The rollout has overcome many challenges, such as technical issues and training for new users. Since those challenges, the EHR has improved with each new rollout. The EHR rollout team and the staff have worked hard to deploy the new system, while fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
AFCEA Bethesda’s 2021 Monthly Breakfast Webinar
The Coalition is proud to sponsor AFCEA Bethesda’s 2021 Monthly Breakfast Webinar Series. Join AFCEA Bethesda on Tuesday, May 18 at 8 AM EDT for the Innovative Uses of Federal Data webinar! Government IT leaders will share how their agencies have utilized data in creative ways to improve operations, better serve citizens, and achieve mission goals. Speakers will also discuss challenges and successes faced in harnessing the power of data while maintaining high standards of governance, quality, and security. Coalition members who are interested in attending can register here.