FCW Insider: Feb. 13

The latest news, analysis and other updates from FCW's reporters and editors.

Wannabe vendors on the Pentagon's $8 billion back office cloud procurement won't have to be certified to host classified data in order to bid, but they will need level-5 certification and be prepared to level up to classified in order to start work. Mark Rockwell has the story.

The U.S. Air Force is building up its in-house software smarts using a program dubbed Kessel Run. In his latest blog, Steve Kelman writes that the program is a big deal – and augurs a revolution in Air Force IT development management.

The Pentagon's artificial intelligence strategy calls for a common foundation in technology and data across the military services to harness AI in war fighting. Lauren C. Williams has more.

The General Services Administration and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency are teaming up to make it easier for all federal agencies to tap into earth observation data. Get more from Mark.

A Justice Department oversight report found that the FBI isn't doing enough to collect and manage employee test messages. Derek B. Johnson explains.

Quick Hits

*** The Office of Personnel Management awarded a $400 million contract to ID Experts to extend credit monitoring services to more than 22 million people affected by the OPM hacks. 

ID Experts was initially awarded the contract in 2015. The new contract took effect Jan. 1, 2019.

The initial deal is slated to last through June 2020, at which point its options kick in. The ceiling value of the contract is about $416 million. To date, ID Experts has made about $340 million from credit monitoring contracts tied to the aftermath of the OPM hack. OPM is required by law to provide coverage to those affected by the breach through fiscal year 2026. 

*** During the last shutdown, significant portions of the government were closed for 35 days, 20 of which Congress was not in session. The Keep Congress Working Act, introduced Feb. 12 by Reps. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.), would require all members of Congress to stay in Washington, D.C., and prevent a recess of more than 12 hours during any lapse in appropriations. 

While key lawmakers have reached an agreement in principle that would avert the next shutdown that looms later this week, President Donald Trump has criticized the deal. The current temporary funding measure is set to expire Feb. 15.

*** The new Congress took its first step toward bringing Transportation Security Administration screeners under civil service protections extended to other government employees. 

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) introduced a bill that would extend Title 5 rights to TSA employees. Title 5 covers protections such as collective bargaining and due process rights. Bringing TSA screeners under that provision would also put them under the general schedule for pay.

Extending Title 5 rights to TSA employees is major legislative priority for federal unions. The issue gained more public attention during the most recent government shutdown, during which many TSA employees worked without pay.

American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox, whose union represents TSA agents, said that agency’s employees constitute "one of our fastest growing entities."

"This is our opportunity to move things forward," he said. "If you get them under Title 5 that will increase their pay very clearly."

Thompson introduced a similar bill last year but it never came up for a vote.

Cox said he expects the bill to pass the House, "and there's a whole lot of senators that will be up for reelection come next year, and I would hope that they would think long and hard about how they would vote."

NEXT STORY: Quick Hits

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