News in Brief

Cloud SIN, space tech, fed data and transition planning

GSA adds cloud SIN to IT contracting vehicle

To make it easier for federal IT buyers, the General Services Administration added a new Cloud Computing Services Special Item Number (SIN) to its IT Schedule 70 acquisition contracting vehicle.

The agency said April 30 that the addition of the cloud SIN makes it easier and faster for government buyers to find and purchase commercial cloud services through the agency's Multiple Award Schedules program. According to GSA, the Schedule 70 Cloud SIN (132-40) includes three sub-categories: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Vendors that don't have a current IT Schedule 70 contract must submit a proposal through the GSA eOffer system. According to the agency, existing IT Schedule 70 holders, as well as IaaS and EaaS BPA holders, must submit a modification to add the SIN to their current offerings. They can also continue selling cloud through their current contract, but GSA said adding the cloud SIN to their contract would give them more visibility to federal buyers.

NASA funds small business space tech

NASA has given its nod to hundreds of technology proposals, including ideas from 254 small businesses, in a round of innovation research funding that could produce contracts with $47.7 million in total value.

The agency selected proposals through its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, with the aim of harnessing private-sector creativity to advance space exploration capabilities.

"The selected proposals demonstrate the ingenuity and creativity of America's small businesses," said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the agency's Space Technology Mission Directorate, on April 30. "Enabling NASA's future missions, including human exploration of Mars, requires broad participation, and the SBIR/STTR programs ensure the agency is benefiting from the passionate and determined minds of the private sector."

Among the selected proposals were robotic technologies for asteroid or Martian exploration and improvements in handling the brine produced by water recovery systems -- an advance that could serve astronauts, who depend on recycled water but must dedicate precious space to storing brine, as well as people on Earth who inhabit regions where potable water is scarce.

Feds still awash in data

Federal agencies are still struggling to adapt to the era of big data, according to a new survey from MeriTalk and Splunk.

The pair surveyed 302 cybersecurity professionals, about half of whom worked at federal agencies. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said their organization was overwhelmed by the volume of data it was collecting, while 78 percent said at least of some their security data went unanalyzed because of a lack of resources.

Senators seek smoother presidential transitions

Two leading senators want a new law to guarantee that experienced hands are running the business of government during the transition period between presidential administrations.

Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced the Presidential Transitions Improvements Act of 2015, which would require agencies to name a senior career executive to be in charge of transition activities at major agency components and subcomponents beginning six months before Election Day. The bill also would require agencies to tap officials for service in roles reserved for political appointees on an acting basis during a transition by Sept. 15 of a presidential election year.

"Regardless of what party wins an election and takes the White House, it is imperative that the transition of power is as smooth as possible. Handing over the keys to the entire $3.5 trillion federal government is a colossal undertaking. I am pleased to cosponsor legislation with Senator Carper that will make modest but important improvements to streamline the transition process," Johnson said in a statement.

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