Congress

IT basically unscathed in revised NDAA

capitol dome and bills

The $5 billion in cuts to a defense policy bill under a budget deal between the White House and Congress would affect only a smattering of IT programs.

The revised fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Act would make modest cuts to programs that cover activities such as IT logistics, Army intelligence and electronic warfare.

The House passed the amended bill on Nov. 5 on a vote of 370-58. A procedural motion to act on the bill in the Senate on the same day failed, but the filibuster is likely a hiccup. The Senate is expected to vote on the revised NDAA as early as next week.

Of the $5 billion in cuts, "nothing jumped out at me as overwhelmingly affecting the IT industry," said Erica McCann, director of federal procurement at the IT Alliance for Public Sector.

ITAPS members, which include IT heavyweights Google and Microsoft, are generally pleased to see an agreement to move NDAA forward that will allow contractors to plan their budgets accordingly, McCann added.

Paul Brubaker, a former deputy CIO at the Defense Department, agreed that movement on NDAA sent a positive signal to the defense contracting base.

"It's going to cause [the Pentagon] to do so some reprioritization and kick off a wave of planning, but it's good to have solid numbers down," said Brubaker, now a vice president at systems engineering firm IT Cadre.

Cuts under the revised NDAA include $10 million trimmed from the Army's Distributed Common Ground System, the service-wide network for sharing and analyzing intelligence. That reduction is a drop in the ocean for the multibillion-dollar program, which has been dogged by delays and criticism from Capitol Hill.

In addition, the Defense Contract Management Agency would receive $12.5 million less for IT development, and the budget for the Joint Electronic Advanced Technology program, which concentrates on electronic warfare, would be reduced by $6.5 million.

McCann voiced her organization's support for the acquisition reform measures that made it into the final version of NDAA. ITAPS is "very supportive of the language around commercial item acquisition reform in particular," she said, adding that it would help the government take advantage of private-sector innovation.

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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