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Quick Hits

GSA extends Polaris. Again.

Another extension coming from GSA on¬†the first two Polaris pools. The proposal deadline has been extended¬†from Aug. 10 to Aug. 19, 2022. No reason was given for allowing contractors nine more days to bid, but let’s¬†hope this is one of the last amendments on this RFP that keeps going and going.¬†The agency also added a summary of questions and responses from its July 21 industry training session on using the Polaris Submission Portal to the solicitations.
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SBA publishes new rule designed to help small federal contractors demonstrate prior experience.

You’ve got a little leverage now when requesting¬†past performance ratings. A new final rule, published Friday by¬†SBA¬†in the Federal Register, offers small businesses two extra methods to prove qualifying past performance: joint ventures, where they were members performing contract work, and prime contracts with subcontracting plans, where they were first-tier subcontractors. The rule gives prime consultants 15 calendar days to respond to subcontractors’ requests for ratings. Furthermore. the SBA ruled that subcontractors shouldn’t have to wait (30 days) after a performance period’s completion to request their ratings. Furthermore, SBA ruled that evaluation factors should align with CPARS.
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Busy week for Congress with a CHIPS bill that keeps getting bigger.

My car’s front forward camera system broke this week, and it’s a 5-month wait for a replacement due to a backlog in the semiconductor chip fab process. Sound familiar? I’m not alone. The Senate is due to continue debating the CHIPS Bill that would heavily subsidize the semiconductor industry, but the bill has grown from amendments in recent weeks, quadrupling spending under the bill. The growth has to do with adopting some policies that had been part of the China Competition Legislation, a bill that fizzled out a few weeks ago. The new, revised semiconductor bill is now being referred to as CHIPS+.
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Small business contracting strategy may not encourage new firms.

A recently announced plan to advance WH’s goal to award 15% of federal contracting dollars to small disadvantaged businesses is unlikely to significantly broaden the contracting base, with critics saying it lacks concrete steps to attract new contractors.¬†The OMB¬†in a June memo made public in early July put forward a number of strategies agencies can use to help meet the goal of 15% of federal contracting dollars going to small disadvantaged businesses, or SDBs, by 2025, up from 5%.¬†But the plan is missing key details that federal contracting experts said could help bring more SDBs into federal contracting, such as ways to enforce small business set-aside requirements for low-value contracts.
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Top Defense & Aerospace

GAO dismisses challenge to amended Army bid solicitation.

The GAO has ruled that the U.S. Army was within its rights to issue revisions to a contract request after submissions were due, despite claims that the revisions were unfair and went against proper regulations.¬†In a four-page decision issued last week, GAO general counsel¬†said the Army was within its rights to revise a solicitation after already sending out offeror letters because it had the proper discretion to do that, so long as the corrections are deemed appropriate to remedy the issues.¬†The ruling comes as a blow to Anders Construction Inc., an underwater construction company that submitted a proposal for professional diving services to help with the U.S. Army’s navigation, flood control, environmental projects and other missions in 2021.
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Following years of protests and litigation, Navy to re-award aerial jammer contract.

After five years of battle, the Navy is reopening bids for the Next Generation Low Band program. The Next Generation Jammer will serve as the Navy’s premier aerial electronic attack platform mounted aboard EA-18 Growler aircraft and will replace the ALQ-99 jamming pod. It has been broken into three pods covering three portions of the electromagnetic spectrum: mid, low and high. Raytheon was awarded the mid-band pod in 2016. L3Harris was awarded a $496 million contract for the low band jammer program in December 2020. However, Northrop Grumman protested the award, alleging the Navy failed to consider the impact of a potential conflict of interest involving a Navy employee that developed specifications for the low-band system while simultaneously negotiating for employment with L3Harris during the solicitation. In June the Navy agreed to a negotiated settlement between L3Harris and Northrop Grumman.
Get the gruesome details here

Future of autonomous flight on display at Farnborough Airshow.

Autonomy was the hot topic at back to back airshows at Royal International Air Tattoo and Farnborough Airshows in the UK. The US military was present at the international event and paying attention, and big firms like Phantom Works (Boeing) and¬†Northrup Grumman were there to pitch their ideas. Kratos was there to demo two of its autonomous XQ-58A Valkyrie drones.¬†Some ideas pitched? Using UAVs to electronically jam or neutralize a pocket of enemy air defenses. Do your fighter pilots need a team to provide buffer and protection? Drones can provide that! UAVs can also produce autonomous wingmen that operate “tethered” to a single aircraft if necessary.
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Top Intel Community

TSA revises cybersecurity guidelines for gas pipeline owners and operators.

TSA¬†last week announced revisions to its cybersecurity requirements for oil and natural gas pipeline owners and operators to be more flexible to each company‚Äôs operations while still aiming to achieve certain¬†critical infrastructure¬†cybersecurity outcomes. TSA talked to industry stakeholders and CISA¬†to revise their original security directive from July 2021 to make it more ‚Äúperformance-based ‚Äď rather than prescriptive.” The new directive aims to help the industry leverage new technologies and to be more adaptive to changing circumstances.
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USSOCOM issues mission system architecture (sources sought).

The USSOCOM has issued a sources sought notice for mission system architecture and command and control systems.  USSOCOM is considering a contract for the procurement and sustainment of an open mission system architecture and a command-and-control system with advanced on-aircraft compute, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and dissemination capabilities.  Systems will provide operators the ability to command and control, collect, analyze, and share information from multiple SOF aviation and ground platforms in an expeditionary form-factor via man-portable Tactical Common Datalinks. Responses are due by 11:59 p.m. ET on August 2.
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Classified briefing zeroes in on suspected Russian spy station in New York.

The State Department held a classified briefing to discuss if a Russian diplomatic compound in the Bronx is serving as a Russian spy hub. The briefing touched on concerns about the compound and its potential ties to Russian espionage operations, concerns which Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) raised in March of this year when he sent a letter to the Directors of the FBI, CIA, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice.
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Top Civilian

House passes $90.9 billion FY2023 transportation bill.

The bill would dedicate $90.9 billion for the upcoming fiscal year, an increase of $9.9 billion above the enacted level. Here is a breakdown of where most of that huge budget is going:

  • $873.6¬†million goes to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
  • $61.3 billion for Federal Highway Administration
  • $17.5 billion for the Federal Transit Administration
  • $3.8 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration
  • $1.2 billion for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Plus the bill denied funding for the enforcement of an electronic logging device rule pertaining to transporters of livestock and insects.
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VA’s new Master Record aims to be the “single source of truth” for veteran data.

The VA aims to further streamline and share critical information about its veterans with a new Master Data Management system, a back-end system that prioritizes taking accurate data elements and distributing them across VA entities, becoming a centralized backbone data system for the agency. The VA Profile platform communicates with preexisting VA application programming interfaces and allows them to access an expansive amount of veteran data, such as contact information and benefits eligibility, deploying it across agency offices and internal records. The software will gather this information from other agency data sources to help power everyday VA business operations, especially facilitating services between VA officials and veterans.
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Feds plan to “step up our work” on Monkeypox after WHO declaration.

Feds are going to ramp up its efforts to respond to increase vaccine demands in an effort to manage the Monkeypox outbreak.¬†There are over 16,000 cases worldwide and about 2,500 in the United States.¬†In a statement after the WHO‚Äôs announcement Saturday declaring the emergency, Raj Panjabi, director of White House Pandemic Preparedness Office, outlined goals to expand testing and vaccine access and educate communities most at risk. Still, HHS has not declared an emergency….yet. And lawmakers are getting noisy about the lackluster response to the viral outbreak, which includes the CDC’s “inability to see the data in real time.”
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GovCon M&A Corner

Unison acquires

Unison announced that it has acquired the FAR compliance solution, helps GovCon Contracts professionals more quickly and accurately: Extract and validate clauses from RFPs and contracts, Analyze risks and identify departments responsible for mitigating risks, and Determine which clauses should flow-down from prime contractors to subcontractors
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Employee Moves

  • Jetta Wong is named GSA’s New Climate Advisor.
  • Channing Grate is named GSA’s Associate Administrator in the Office of Strategic Communications.
  • Zoe Garmendia is promoted to Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations for GSA.
  • Gennie Duncan is promoted to Policy Advisor in the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs at GSA
  • Camille Stewart Gloster joins the WH’s Office of the National Cyber Director as Deputy National Cyber Director.
  • Heili Kim joins McDermott Will & Emery LLP.
  • Ken Peterman¬†is named Chairman of the¬†Comtech Telecommunications Corp board.
  • Bill Rowan named Public Sector VP at Splunk.


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Contract Awards

Noblis wins $241.6M JAIC contract.

Noblis has been named the prime contractor on the 5-year JAIC Data Readiness for the Artificial Intelligence Development Services basic ordering agreement. Under the agreement, which has a $241.6 million ceiling, Noblis will help the DODt prepare data for use in AI applications that drive initiatives such as JADCC. The Noblis team includes Avocado Systems, CalypsoAI, RIVA and TAMR.
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CGI Federal is one of 14 that wins a $203.5M FCC communications strategies contract.

CGI Federal has won a position on the FCC Agile Development Support Services multiple-award IDIQ contract. The contract has an 11-month base period and four 12-month options periods. All 14 contract awardees will compete for task orders against a cumulative ceiling of $203.5 million.  As part of this work, CGI Federal will help FCC synchronize its mission and IT activities by applying agile development methods and cloud-based technologies to support digital transformation. Under the contract, FCC bureaus and offices will also work with industry partners to deliver end-to-end IT services and support the agile design, development, implementation and deployment of IT systems.
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Akima wins $109M USAF Academy aircraft logistics contract.

Akima Logistics Services has been awarded a contract to provide contractor logistics support to the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The contract has a value of $109.7 million over 10 years if all options are exercised. Akima will support three Flying Training Squadrons: the 94th FTS Glider/Soaring Training, the 98th FTS Parachute Training and the 557th FTS Powered Flight Training. The company will provide base support services, organizational and depot maintenance, sortie support, scheduling, maintenance and aircraft recovery. Akima will also provide tow aircraft and tow pilots in support of glider/soaring training.
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Verizon wins $400M FBI modernization contract.

Verizon Public Sector has won an over $400 million EIS task order with the FBI to help the agency meet increasing demands for data bandwidth around the world. The task order includes 24/7 direct access to Verizon’s IT development team to address critical problems or discuss potential system enhancements. This will allow the FBI to support a wide range of applications like cloud computing, video and imaging transmissions, and data applications that drive demand for dynamic bandwidth capacity. The Verizon Public Sector team will also integrate mission-critical technologies and processes into the FBI’s existing IT infrastructure to meet service requirements and ensure maximum network availability at key FBI locations.
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Shower thoughts ūüöŅ

Should we raise the mandatory retirement age for commercial pilots?

Right now, the mandatory retirement age for commercial pilots is 65, but some advocates are pushing to raise that age to 67. This would help address an airline industry staff shortage. The age boost comes with some safety considerations, such as passing a rigorous medical screening every six months. Industry groups are divided over their support for the congressional proposal. Right now, some 14,000 pilots would be forced to retire over the next four years.
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Do EV makers know what women want?

(TL:DR: hell no.) Men make up most of the EV consumer base–more than 2/3 of all sales are made by men. Car makers are starting to target women more in their EV ads, but it’s going to take a lot more than women in ads to get women to buy in. They are going to have to do a lot better, in my opinion, than Ford’s pitchwoman, who is excited about re-pitching the idea of the car’s frunk (front storage area) for nursery plants rather than golf clubs. Oh puhleese. Even more annoying is DOE’s observation that women might like EVs because they are less smelly. As a Tesla owner, I want to offer my own suggestion: increase the battery range. Running out of juice on the way back from a winter football game in Pittsburgh is no joke, and the cold temps sucked the juice out of that battery like me sipping a margarita on a beach on a 90 degree day.
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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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