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Quick Hits

New legislation alert: AGILE Procurement Act aims to streamline purchasing of IT technology and training.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee this week introduced the AGILE Procurement Act. The legislation would require the OMB and GSA to streamline the ability of the federal government to purchase commercial technology and to provide specific training for IT and communications tech acquisition. If the AGILE Procurement Act moves forward, it would provide a pilot program to bring more junior and mid-career professionals into federal procurement from other fields, including the military. It would also help reduce barriers for federal contractors.
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Good news! CHIPS Act passes Senate.

Legislation passed making the semiconductor industry more competitive with China by boosting the domestic production of chips. The CHIPS Act provides roughly $52 billion in subsidies to U.S. semiconductor manufacturers, as well as billions of dollars in additional spending for scientific research to spur the domestic development of emerging technologies. In the meantime, the GAO has offered some ideas for improving the semiconductor supply, including the need for workforce training and immigration reforms.
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Small biz roundup: Fed small biz contracts hit new high as base shrinks.

The federal government awarded a record $154.2 billion in contracts to small businesses in fiscal year 2021 as the number of small business contractors continued to shrink, the SBA said in its annual procurement scorecard. 27.2% of all federal contracts in 2021 went to small business, which is up from 26% but a dip from the previous high of 26.5% in 2019. (The government goal is 23%.) Nearly 30.9% of federal subcontract spending went to small businesses. So which agencies are doing the best as surpassing SBA goals? SBA, OPM, and Commerce. Who is sucking? HHS, Treasury, and HUD. But this good news is followed by the fact that there’s been a 40% decrease in companies entering the marketplace “showing that less small businesses are trying to do business with the federal government.” 
Read more | And more info here

Can a small business be affiliated with a nonprofit parent company?

In order to be an eligible small business, a company must be organized “for profit.” A nonprofit business does not qualify as a small business under SBA’s rules. But the parent company of small business can be a nonprofit company. What matters is whether the actual government contractor representing itself as a small business is organized for profit, not its parent company. This ruling came after a bid protest that required OHA to further define some of its requirements.
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GovCon Trivia

How well do you think you know the federal government?

How many five-star generals have there been in the US Army since its inception?

A. 0
B. 2
C. 5
D. 9

Find the answer at the bottom of this newsletter! 

Top Defense & Aerospace

Army wants to focus on light robotic combat vehicles, with emphasis on software.

(When you read this, visualize something more Johnny 5 from Short Circuit and less Optimus Prime.) The Army has narrowed its focus on developing lighter variants of robotic combat vehicles, but it still plans to leverage a ­software acquisition pathway to get technology that could be applied to other categories of unmanned platforms in the future. Army recently decided to narrow its research, development, test and evaluation approach for the time being. “We’ve chosen to focus on the RCV-L platform — the light, the smaller platform. And we’ve also, within that, separated out the software element as a separate software acquisition pathway program because we want that control software to be common across many robotic platforms,” the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology said.
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Senators warn of insufficiencies in the hypersonic testing infrastructure.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is investing in hypersonics, but lawmakers are uneasy about the government’s capacity to access such sophisticated capabilities and bring them to full fruition. One of the committee’s biggest fears: the ability to test those systems. SASC’s version of the NDAA for the next fiscal year incorporates a number of hypersonic-related funding proposals — including almost $300 million for the DOD’s glide-phase interceptor initiative to combat such capabilities, which is in its early stages and being steered by the MDA. Separately, while the department’s budget request included $2 million in a specific line for Navy weapons industrial facilities, the committee instead recommended an increase of $25 million for that line, specifically for a hypersonic test facility.
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To institutionalize DevSecOps, Navy’s Black Pearl aims to “commoditize the boring stuff.”

When the Navy Department set about the process of simplifying its journey to modern software development, officials decided it didn’t make much sense to reinvent the wheel. So instead of building a software factory and development pipeline from scratch, they borrowed heavily from the Air Force’s Platform One initiative and tailored it to the Navy’s needs where necessary. Learn more about the problems that Black Pearl has struggled with, from technology to compliance issues.
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Top Intel Community

Small biz alert: DIA is going to start offering “Intro to DIA for Small Business” briefings.

This is a good change to meet your DIA procurement peeps! Discussion(s) will focus on the basics of doing business with the Agency and program highlights. A Q&A period will follow the discussion. The briefs generally take place on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month between 9:30am – 11:30am and 1:00pm – 3:00pm (all times are Eastern Time Zone). Registrants must be US Citizens and representatives of a U.S. owned firm to attend. Companies will be limited to one (1) registrant, on a first come, first serve basis. Registrants will be provided an attendance date based on the order received. Requests for specific dates will not be honored. Briefing attendance will be limited. Advance registration is required.
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Human rights advocate to Congress: Stop federal procurement of commercial spyware.

“Right now, doing business with the federal government, getting acquired by a U.S. company or doing business with an American police department is the golden prize for many in the spyware industry,” Citizen Labs’ Senior Researcher John Scott-Railton told members of the House Intelligence Committee. “As long as that remains a possibility for problematic actors, they’re going to get support from investors.” During a testimony before Congress, experts offered some specific examples, including Pegasus (Israeli), Cellebrite (Israeli), and Micro Systemation AB (Swedish). Cellebrite and MSAB are both on the GSA’s list of approved commercial services, and Cellebrite is promoted under the services of gov’t contract Carahsoft.
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8 agencies get lower FITARA grades.

The FITARA grades of eight agencies have fallen after the House Oversight Committee revised the methodology used to assess federal government departments’ IT modernization progress. Agencies whose grades decreased were the departments of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Transportation, and the Treasury; Environmental Protection Agency; National Science Foundation; and Office of Personnel Management. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission was the only agency whose grade increased from a C- to a B.
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DHS cleared after 2021 exposure of terrorist watchlist data.

The Office of the Inspector General for the DHS issued an inspection report following the alleged exposure of DHS’s terrorist watchlist data, which the department learned about in July of 2021. The report, entitled “DHS Has Controls to Safeguard Watchlist Data,” was launched following the purported exposure of more than 1.9 million federal terrorist watchlist records. A social media post claimed that these watchlist records were exposed publicly online and contained sensitive information and identifier information. The report cleared the DHS of negligence, determining that the DHS “has an approach to safeguard and share terrorist screening data.” It confirmed that the department’s policies and procedures are in compliance with federal standards to safeguard sensitive data, including the data of the alleged exposure, that is used, stored and shared by DHS.
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Top Civilian

DOE is trying to provide equitable access to solar power.

If your household income is low, you probably can’t even consider adding solar panels to your roof, they way your fancy-pants neighbors probably did 10 years ago. Right now, it can cost upwards to $20k out of pocket to install solar panels. The DOE announced several new initiatives to foster the growth of the solar industry nationwide, focusing on job creation and lower electricity bills.  In collaboration with the HHS, Energy’s Community Solar Subscription Platform will supervise pilot programs in five states and Washington, D.C to gauge scalability and efficiency. In addition to supporting Energy’s broader goal of reaching a carbon-zero electricity grid by 2035. The platform specifically works within the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program to promote equitable access to solar energy.
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DOE fails to spend over $14 billion in allocated funds.

I’ll be happy to help you go shopping with that money, DOE!  Two U.S. DOE offices, including one that maintains the U.S. nuclear arsenal, are sitting on a growing pile of unspent funds. A report from the GAO found that while most federal funding has an expiration date, with unspent funds returned to the U.S. Treasury, the DOE receives billions of dollars in allocations that are not time-limited, with unspent funds carried over from one year to the next. For FY2021, a total of $14.1 billion accumulated in carryover balances from the department’s Office of Environmental Management and the NNSA, it said. The report found that the offices generally spent older funds before newer ones, these carryover balances can exceed the minimum needed to support programs, thereby tying up resources that could be put to other uses.
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Remote IT workers at USDA vote to unionize.

806 IT Specialist and IT Support workers from the USDA have joined the AFGE family following an election to form a union with AFGE. The workforce was remote and scattered across every state in the country. Coworkers did not know each other, have relationships or connections with each other. Because folks were so distant from each other, the agency had been implementing negative, anti-worker policies for years (or so the AFGE claims.) Of those that voted, 70% voted to stand with their coworkers in unionizing.
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GovCon M&A Corner

Veritas Capital invests in Epiq Solutions.

Veritas Capital Vantage Fund, L.P. has made a strategic investment in Epiq Solutions, a leading provider of software defined radio and turnkey RF solutions for governments and enterprises. Epiq Solutions is now a portfolio company of the Vantage Fund, which targets opportunities in the middle market. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
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Viastat mulls an encryption tech portfolio sale.

Viasat has enlisted the help of an adviser as the communications equipment provider considers selling a unit that offers encryption tools to the government sector. The encryption business’ estimated annual EBITDA stands at $120 million and the portfolio could sell for $1.8 billion from potential buyers in the private equity or defense industry, according to the report.
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Sierra Space announces formation of a National Security Advisory Group.

The council will conduct independent assessments of existing and emerging threats, monitor technology trends and advise on potential national security solutions. Its goals are to ensure the safety and security of the commercial space infrastructure, preserve the freedom of space and protect the United States’ ability to operate effectively in space. Sierra Space’s National Security Advisory Group is chaired by Honorable James F. Geurts and includes guest stars: General (ret) William M. Fraser, III; Hon. Lori B. Garver; Hon. Susan M. Gordon; David E. Hamilton, Jr.; General (ret) Paul J. Selva; Hon. William M. Thornberry; and General (ret) Stephen W. Wilson.
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Follow the Leaders

  • Matthew Albence is leaving ICE for a role as SVP for Client Relations at GEO Group, Inc.
  • Parsons promotes Matt Ofilos to CFO and names George Ball & Ellen Lord to Board.
  • Mark Dewy is the new Digital Services Expert, Senior Software Engineering at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Office of the CTO.
  • Aydin Mohtashamian joins Parry Labs at COO.

Check out these interesting job openings: 

 
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Contract Awards

Parsons wins spot on $850M DTRA contract.

Parsons Corp. has been selected by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency as one of five awardees on an assessments, exercises, modeling and simulation support indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract. The $850 million ceiling value contract contains a 5-year base period with one 5-year option period. The company will support training, exercise planning, threat assessment and countermeasures, modeling and equipment simulation to counter threats and to strengthen national and international security within the DTRA Nuclear Enterprise Directorate.
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Constellis JV snags $592M Energy Dept. protective services contract.

Constellis joint venture Northern New Mexico Integrated Security has won a $592 million, 5-year protective services contract with Triad National Security, LLC, the maintenance and operations provider for the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The contract was awarded on behalf of the NNSA. The N2MIS Joint Venture consists of Centerra Group, a Constellis company, and Tsay Construction and Services. Under the contract, N2MIS will provide protective force and training at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, working with Triad to ensure the protection of critical assets.
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C3 AI, CITI win $90M HHS contract.

The HHS has awarded a joint $90 million, 5-year agreement to enterprise AI application software company C3 AI and software services and product company CITI through its partnership with Carahsoft. The blanket purchase agreement, called “Solutioning with Holistic Analytics Restructured for the Enterprise,” will accelerate enterprise AI deployments across HHS. Through the BPA, the HHS’ various agencies and missions can select C3 AI to support data-driven work.
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But wait! There’s more!

See what’s brewing in GovCon throughout the day.  
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Shower thoughts 🚿

Do people leave when hurricanes threaten an area? Cellphone data reveals the answer in Florida. 

Researchers have been looking at broad cellphone data to analyze how people respond when a big storm is threatening an area. They discovered that only one in four people evacuated. In 2016, only 16% of people evacuated when Hurricane Matthew skirted the coast. In 2017, only 29% left before Irma hit, and 24% fled the Panhandle before a direct hit from Michael in 2018. The Florida DOT is looking into reasons why people don’t leave. 18% just didn’t want to leave or underestimated the severity of the hurricane. 8% didn’t leave because they couldn’t afford to. 
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Is buying carbon dioxide the new helium?

The world currently emits 40 gigatons of carbon dioxide every year at a rate of 12,688 tons per second. Researchers are looking at an array of carbon-removal solutions, including machines that draw CO2 directly out of the air, and reforestation and biochar that help soil soak up more carbon, as well as using the CO2 to make fuel. Climate scientists say that we need carbon capture and storage. To lock away the CO2 would mean that there is no product to sell and, as a result, a substantial commercial market for CO2 is yet to emerge.
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The Trivia Answer is…. C. 

There have only been five 5-star generals in the Army. The rank of five-star didn’t exist until 1944, and it was given to five men. The ranks were retired in 1981, when the last surviving five-star general, Omar Bradley, died.  (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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