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Quick Hits

Senate passes bill to crack down on conflicts of interest in federal contracting.

With the hopes of ensuring that private companies, say, sell their expensive, detailed engineering plans for high-tech missiles to, say, North Korea (wouldn’t that just be the worst?) the Senate this week passed a bill hoping to remove conflict of interests, improve transparency, and remove conflicts between taxpayer-funded projects and federal government contractors’ other business opps. The new legislation will require federal contractors to disclose business relationships with entities that conflict with the specific work that an agency has hired them to do.  Private companies currently under contract with the U.S. government would also be required under the law to disclose new potential business that opposes ongoing services they are providing to the government or the public at large.
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GSA expands use of COMET BPA (good news for small biz).

The GSA is expanding its use of a major blanket purchase agreement for digital transformations of backend procurement systems. According to David Shive, GSA saw enough good business outcomes with Federal Acquisition Service systems that CIO Modernization and Enterprise Transformation (COMET) task orders are now being placed for Public Buildings Service and corporate systems, as well as shared services. The agency rapidly added eight additional small businesses, offering new and enabling technologies, to COMET in December because some of the 12 initial awardees grew into mid- or large-size businesses from work on the blanket purchase agreement (BPA), mergers and acquisitions.
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TMF allocates funding for three more IT modernization projects.

Oooh, who is getting the money this time? The lucky winners are the Dept. of Labor, AmeriCorps, and USDAID. The Labor Department is getting $7.2 million to help modernize how employers access permanent labor certification services and create a more seamless visa processing experience. AmeriCorps is getting $14 million to replace a 20-year-old system with a new integrated system that allows the agency and its partners to better focus on serving local communities. USAID is getting $5.6 million to reduce the cyber risks associated with the agency’s global mission and improve user experience for its workforce.
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GovCon Trivia

How well do you think you know the federal government?

What president signed the U.S. Small Business Administration into law?

A. Dwight D. Eisenhower
B. John F. Kennedy
C. Lyndon B. Johnson
D. Richard M. Nixon

Find the answer at the bottom of this newsletter! 

Top Defense & Aerospace

NAVAIR posts Cyber Warfare Engineering draft RFP.

U.S. Navy posted a draft RFP for the Cyber Warfare Engineering Services procurement.  The Cyber Warfare Department (CWD), a department within the Digital Analytics Infrastructure and Technology Advancement (DAiTA) Group under the NAWCAD, serves as NAVAIR’s competency and authoritative source to rapidly research, develop, mature, procure, integrate, test, evaluate, train, support and sustain cyber resilient and full spectrum cyber warfighting capabilities for platforms, weapons, sensors, communications and networks, computing systems, mission systems, support equipment, logistics and maintenance systems and ashore and afloat enterprise systems. Responses are due on August 24. If you love RFP and event notices like this, you’ll LOVE our premium opportunities email newsletter. 
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NASA Authorization Act aims to strengthen US Space Exploration.

After we celebrated George Jetson’s birthday this week, we are excited to see our space exploration activities get underway with vigor! The first NASA authorization bill was included in the recently-passed CHIPS Act, will focus on areas such as exploration, science, aeronautics, space technology and STEM engagement, among other things. The act formally creates the Moon to Mars Program in an effort to have people explore Mars, and it allows for the fulfillment of the Artemis Missions to the moon. It also extends International Space Station operations from 2024 through 2030.
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DOD launches 6G R&D Center as it eyes transition to NextG Wireless Tech.

The DOD recently launched three new projects for its Innovative Beyond 5G Program, including creating a research and development hub for 6G technology. The project, Open6G, is a collaborative initiative between industry and universities, designed to be a catalyst for 6G systems research on open radio access networks, or Open RAN. The project, led by a $1.77 million award from IB5G, will focus on Open RAN research and open source implementation of 5G protocol stack features to support 5G applications.
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Top Intel Community

NRO and SPACECOM change their relationship status to “it’s complicated”.

The NRO and SPACECOM are still working their relationship out, and how they will operate under the “protect and defend” strategic framework they signed last year. The leader of the NRO said they will follow instructions from SPACECOM if needed while the SPACECOM office for ISR activities is trying to figure out if they “need to expand.” Addressing the needs of both the DOD and IC, the NRO gets its instructions—“what to look at and listen to”—from the NSA and the NGA. The NRO has a longstanding relationship with SPACECOM and its predecessors. Now the two entities are hammering out “the framework for how we’re going to operate under various conditions.
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NSF invests $25.4M into cybersecurity and privacy research projects.

The NSF is investing $25.4 million to advance research and scale projects related to cybersecurity and privacy as part of its Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace program.  This funding will go to several projects. First, a program called Enabling a Secure and Trustworthy Software Supply Chain at North Carolina State University ($850,000 to date; $6.4M total in funding). Second, a program called Securing the Future of Computing for Marginalized and Vulnerable Populations at the University of Florida ($805,000 to date; $4M total). Third, a trusted execution environment project at Indiana University’s Center for Distributed Confidential Computing ($527,000 to date, $3M total).
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NIST, CISA finalize guidance for identify and access management.

Federal officials participating in a virtual event hosted by the Advanced Technology Research Center Tuesday agreed on the significant amount of subjectivity that would be inherent in any agency’s decision. They focused more on the common foundational elements that would be necessary on the part of agencies regardless of the vendor or method they choose to meet directives passed down by the OMB for establishing “zero-trust” systems.
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Top Civilian

VA needs more money after staffing shortages.

The VA is badly understaffed, and the AFGE union and Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute are calling on Congress and the VA to fully fund, staff, and expand VA resources. Here are some striking stats:

  • 88% of respondents said their facility needs more clinical frontline staff.
  • One facility had to close four inpatient units.
  • 70% of AFGE survey respondents reported needing more administrative and support staff.
  • 64% said there are vacant positions for which no recruitment is taking place.
  • One facility reports 48 physician vacancies.
  • Another facility had a staff of 12 full-time outpatient psychiatrists whittled down to one.

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Cerner receives funding for additional EHRM deployments.

Admist all the drama between the VA, congress, and Oracle-Cerner the company was recently obligated $399M in funding as part of an 18 month TO to provide the VA with EHRM deployments waves H, I and J. The task was awarded under Cerner’s existing EHRM IDIQ.
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Another firefighter compensation bill passes.

As we watch the McKinney Fire rage in northern California, a bill has recently been passed that would overhaul federal firefighters’ pay and benefits. The Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act (H.R. 5118) would increase federal firefighters’ pay to a base of $20 an hour—making them a GS-6, Step 3 at minimum—and make their compensation “portal-to-portal,” a phrase used to describe when employees are paid for time on the job but not performing their primary duties. It also provides annual pay adjustments, a disability annuity, hazard pay, and seven days of paid mental health leave. The bill also would require agencies to submit a report to Congress comparing the compensation of federal firefighters with that of their counterparts in state and local governments. And it requires agencies who employ firefighters outside of wildfire response to establish pay parity with wildland firefighters within one year.
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GovCon M&A Corner

Leidos acquires Cobham’s special mission business.

Leidos announced it has entered into a definitive agreement with Cobham Limited to acquire Cobham Aviation Services Australia’s Special Mission business. The Special Mission business provides airborne border surveillance and search and rescue services to the Australian Federal Government. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.
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By Light Professional IT Services acquires Veraxx Engineering Corp.

By Light (a portfolio company of Sagewind Capital), a systems integrator providing reliable, cost-effective IT, leading edge training and simulation platforms and cyberspace operations to federal and commercial clients, announced that it has acquired Veraxx Engineering Corporation. Veraxx is a leading provider of immersive, high-fidelity flight simulation training technologies primarily for the DOD.
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Antarctica Capital acquires controlling interest in Descartes Labs.

Antarctica said it bought a controlling stake in Descartes Labs for an undisclosed sum. Descartes Labs provides analysis from a mix of third-party satellites with a cloud-based platform that helps companies make forecasts related to agriculture, energy, sustainability, mining, shipping, financial and other services. The company also supports government customers in processing multi-source geospatial data. Descartes Labs was spun off from the DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2014.
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CIS acquires Intrepid Solutions and Services

IS Secure, the leader in secure collaboration, tactical communications and protected personal mobility solutions, announced the acquisition of Intrepid Solutions and Services, LLC. Intrepid Solutions provides information technology modernization, data analysis/cybersecurity services, and intelligence training/support, primarily to the defense and intelligence communities. The combined companies will be able to develop, integrate, and deliver critical security solutions for the national security infrastructure.
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Contract Awards

ManTech wins $184M with NAVSEA PEO IWS.

Under the five-year contract, ManTech will provide advanced technical engineering services that power IWS Combat Management Systems for all U.S. Navy surface ships.
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Expedition Technology wins 3 SBIR awards.

Expedition Technology announced it recently received three SBIR awards from the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research. Each of these Phase I SBIR engagements leverages EXP’s domain and subject matter expertise to explore the identification and implementation of solutions that use leading edge technologies like AI and ML to improve communications and signal processing performance in the field.
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AECOM wins $91M SIOP contract for dry dock upgrades.

Repairs to Berths 40 and 41 and the accompanying Dry Dock 8 upgrades will directly support the mission of NNSY to perform maintenance on Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers and are part of the Navy’s Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP). AECOM Technical Services, Inc. was awarded the $91,484,397 firm fixed-price with award fee task order under a previously-awarded multiple award construction contract.
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Shower thoughts đźšż

US spends billions in foreign aid. But does that money do any actual good?

In 2021, USAID — the agency of the US government tasked with international development — disbursed $28.3 billion in foreign aid to an assortment of humanitarian causes ranging from hunger programs to medical treatment to education. But how much good is this money doing? And is that money accomplishing as much as it could be? The answer, it turns out, is much more difficult to find than you would think — and that’s a problem. For starters, USAID doesn’t generate high-quality evaluation reports assessing program impacts. In fact, only 3% of USAID’s reports meet quality standards.
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What companies were granted the most patents in 2021?

If you haven’t checked out the Visual Capitalist before, you should. They make some simple statistics visually interesting. Their charts and graphs really give you perspective. This one gives you the top 25 companies that were given the most new patents in 2021. I can tell you that the big four were: IBM, Samsung, LG, and Canon, but you really should check out the infographic for yourself.
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What are the best podcasts to listen to on your commute?

If you’re like my household, you are searching for new podcasts more often than searching for new TV shows. (It’s gotta be because we spend more time commuting than sitting home.) Wired has a list of the best ones to listen to in 2022. I’m a little astonished that The British History Podcast (my fav) didn’t make the list but at least Hardcore History got a nod. Top Business shows on the Wired list include: How I Built This, The Diary of a CEO, and Work Life. I definitely want you to hit us up in social media to tell me what your favorite podcast is these days!
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The Trivia Answer is…. A. 

The SBA turned 69 years old this week! Happy Birthday! Dwight D. Eisenhowver signed the Small Business Act into law in 1953. “The prosperity of our small business enterprises is an indispensable element in the maintenance of our economic strength. Creation of the Small Business Administration and recently enacted tax laws facilitating small business expansion are but two of many important steps we have taken to encourage our smaller enterprises. I recommend that the Congress extend the Small Business Act of 1953 which is due to expire next June.”  (Source)

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GovBrew is an elite crew of knowledgeable, cool, and aggressive GovCon Experts who also like to have a good time. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning we take a 5-minute journey together. After our morning read we are more informed, optimistic, and motivated about our place and power in the GovCon industry. Basically, ready to kick ass.

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