Aldridge letter to industry

Your Ideas Welcome

Do you have an idea for waging the war on terrorism? Well, the Defense Department wants to hear from you.

The Technical Support Working Group, an interagency federal organization that coordinates anti-terrorism efforts, has issued a broad agency announcement seeking new technology and e-government initiatives that could be developed in the short term — within the next 18 months. "We are looking for technology that could be nurtured in the next six to 18 months [and] has to do with homeland security," said DOD procurement chief Deidre Lee during a recent speech at the Federal Contracting 2002 conference, sponsored by the Government Contracting Institute of Rockville, Md.

The announcement is sponsored by the Combating Terrorism Technology Support Office/Technical Support Group and by E. C. "Pete" Aldridge, DOD's undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics. The announcement seeks technologies that can help in "combating terrorism, defeating difficult targets, conducting protracted operations in remote areas, and developing countermeasures to weapons of mass destruction," according to DOD.

The plan for the broad agency announcement was in the works, but was accelerated after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The announcement, number 02-Q-4655 and issued Oct. 23, can be found at www.

Air Force Content to Wait and See

Terry Balven, director of information planning at Air Force headquarters, said that even though the other armed services are undertaking extensive IT consolidation projects, including the Army's new focus on knowledge management and overall reorganization, and the $6.9 billion Navy Marine Corps Intranet, the Air Force has no similar plans — for now.

"The Air Force is paying attention and watching, but doesn't have any intention to consolidate...not like NMCI least not yet," Balven said last week at a discussion at the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association's Vision Conference in Alexandria, Va.

As much as we'd like to slam the Air Force for taking a back seat, with all the uncertainty still surrounding a contract that was awarded more than a year ago, can you blame them?

Win Quietly So DOD Can Carry a Big Stick

As DOD continues to shift to a war footing, officials are asking contractors for discretion in their public pronouncements about their Pentagon work. Undersecretary Aldridge, in an Oct. 2 letter to industry, said he wanted to stress, "during this national emergency, the importance of the use of discretion in all the public statements, press releases and communications made by your respective companies." Even seemingly innocuous industrial information can reveal much about military activities and intentions to the trained intelligence collector, Aldridge said.

But both Lee and Aldridge praised industry for its post-Sept. 11 offers of assistance.

Lee noted that contracting officers went into action when American Airlines flight 77 crashed into the south side of the Pentagon, even finalizing a contract for rebuilding the building just four days later.

The contract, with an initial value of $145 million, was awarded to Hensel Phelps Construction Co., Chantilly, Va., on Sept. 15.

The contractor is removing about 350 million pounds of debris, demolishing Pentagon sections down to the concrete columns and floor slabs, and then rebuilding.

Meanwhile, the start of Operation Enduring Freedom meets the statutory definition of "contingency operations," Aldridge said.

The declaration provides contracting officers with increased flexibilities for purchases such as increasing the threshold for the simplified acquisition procedures for overseas buys to $200,000.

But Lee said the crisis has demonstrated that the contracting regulations are more flexible than thought.

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About the Authors

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine,, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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