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FCW Insider: Nov. 19

Longstanding deficiencies in the Defense Department's tech portfolio emerged as a leading cause for the failure of the organization's first completed financial audit. Lauren C. Williams has more.

Lesley Field , the government's top acquisition officer, talked to FCW's Mark Rockwell about the challenge of communicating with 40,000 procurement specialists across government.

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen signaled that her newly minted cybersecurity agency will shift its focus from election infrastructure protection to longer term initiatives around risk and supply chain. Derek B. Johnson reports.

There are three steps organizations can take to help set the stage for effective IT modernization, writes Ben Marglin, a principal at Booz Allen, in this FCW commentary.

Quick Hits

***The Department of Defense is moving ahead with its $10 billion cloud procurement after a pre-award protest from Oracle was dismissed by the Government Accountability Office.

"I think we have a smart approach in modernizing the Department of Defense. I'm not worried about vendor lock," said Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan in a briefing with reporters last week on the results of the DOD's first financial audit. "We're going to have competition, but it's really about how do we migrate the department effectively through the cloud, and I think we're running a good competition."

Shanahan also hinted that the JEDI procurement – short for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure – will help the department in its quest to become more manageable. "That's why this cloud is such a big deal, and then we've set this foundation for A.I., which you're going to see, you know, as a reformed category. We have a strong strategy there and a plan," he said.

*** DHS is expanding its use of other transaction authority procurements to include follow-on production awards in its Border Security Technology Consortium. In a post on FedBizOpps, DHS stated that the BSTC's other transaction authority agreement is being updated – in keeping with a 2018 appropriations bill – to allow for a production contract to be granted to the recipient of an experimental prototype transaction without a competitive bid, "provided the awardee successfully completes the prototype project provided for in this transaction."

The BSTC was formed in 2012 to support the research and rapid prototyping of technologies sought by Customs and Border Protection and other DHS customers. BSTC members include defense and security vendors, tech integrators, consultants and universities. The effort is managed by Advanced Technology International, which runs 17 other public-private consortia that put out calls for OTA development efforts in defense and homeland security. Recent BSTC projects include a capability for cell phone geolocation for search and rescue efforts and a push to identify and patch cyber vulnerabilities in the integrated system of towers and sensors on the U.S. border.

*** Sens. Mike Lee (R.-Utah) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) are looking to legislation to set the stage for agencies to relinquish spectrum for use in the private sector. The Government Spectrum Valuation Act, introduced Nov. 14, would require a yearly review to determine the market value of agency's allocated or assigned spectrum holdings. The bill would also require agencies to report that spectrum value in the President’s budget and their respective financial statements.

Those calculations, said Lee in a statement, will allow the White House and Congress to "be better equipped to identify valuable federal spectrum bands and manage each federal spectrum allocation more efficiently."

The review will be conducted by the Federal Communications Commission, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Office of Management and Budget.

The move comes against a backdrop of spectrum auctions to support high speed 5G service. On Nov. 14, the FCC opened bidding on high band 28 GHz spectrum in its first 5G spectrum auction, to be followed by bidding in the 24 GHz band. Another auction is planned for 2019 for spectrum at 37, 39 and 47 GHz.

"We're aiming to free up, in the next 15 months or so, more spectrum than is currently held by every mobile broadband provider in the United States combined. This is a massive influx of supply," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai at a Nov. 16 Federalist Society event.

The FCC, he said, "is working hard with other federal agencies to make available spectrum that’s currently held by the federal government, which has held a majority of lower band airwaves for some time."

Posted by FCW Staff on Nov 19, 2018 at 1:00 AM


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