Senate version of defense bill tackles cyber workforce, procurement

The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved its version of the National Defense Authorization Act, giving the green light for the bill to head to the upper chamber’s floor sometime in June or July. At $631 billion, the budget includes $3 billion more than President Obama’s original request.

It does not account for the potentially forthcoming sequestration process that would slash spending across the government and hit the Defense Department particularly hard – a scenario Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has deemed “catastrophic.” However, the bill does include a provision that DOD leadership must produce a contingency plan for the potentially dramatic budget cuts.

The bill includes a number of mandates intended to cut down on duplicative programs and efforts and to increase oversight, and continues to fund anti-terror projects, a range of support programs to Afghanistan, and some plans for technology innovation, including $200 million for high-tech research and development.

Here’s a brief rundown of some of the Senate bill’s highlights:

Cyber-related

  • Recruiting young people with computer skills to be developed into cyber expertise for military service and careers.
  • Identifying a DOD component to oversee a cyber testing and evaluation range, including its funding, infrastructure and personnel.
  • Requirements for consolidating networks to improve security and management and to free up personnel for an understaffed U.S. Cyber Command.
  • Improvement of security, quality and competition in the acquisition of DOD software.
  • Development of next-generation host-based cybersecurity tools and capabilities.

Acquisition

  • Prohibits the use of cost-type contracts for the production of major weapon systems, with few limited exceptions.
  • Restrictions on “pass-through” contracts and orders that at least half of work on any service contract be performed by the prime contractor or by a subcontractor noted in the contract agreement.
  • Cap on DOD-reimbursed contractor pay decreased from $750,000 to $237,000.
  • Review and revising of guidelines on contractor performance and profits.
  • Whistleblower protection for anyone reporting waste, fraud, and abuse on DOD contracts.

Combat-related

  • More than $6 billion in programs in Afghanistan, including support to Afghan security forces, infrastructure and humanitarian aid.
  • $1.5 billion to the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization.
  • $160 million for U.S. Special Operations Command intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tools
  • $600 million for the Joint Tactical Radio System, with the provision that funding is withheld until the Army furnishes an approved acquisition strategy for full and open competition.
  • $3.9 billion in advanced funding for block buys of Air Force satellites 5 and 6 over the next six years.
  • Integration of satellite and ground systems.
  • $50 million for ISR for central African forces to defeat Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Internal affairs

  • $59 million toward DOD Inspector General oversight and authorities aimed at rooting out waste, fraud and abuse.
  • Codification of Panetta’s stated goals of DOD becoming audit-ready.
  • Full review by the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness of the strategic workforce plan.
  • Full inventory by the DOD CIO of department software licenses and determination of potentially duplicate or overlapping agreements.
  • Flexibility in hiring of personnel at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
  • Establishment of social media standards.
  • Veto on further rounds of Base Realignment and Closure Act plans.

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