The Pentagon’s 2016 Budget Will Focus on the Pacific

The Pentagon’s 2016 budget proposal will focus investments heavily on pivoting the military to the Pacific and continuing security operations in the Middle East, according to defense officials and experts.

That means continued investments in high-end weapons, including the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and Air Force’s new Long-Range Strike Bomber.

In the 2016 budget plan, the Defense Department will “refine and to focus in on that strategic guidance” and “align more tightly” with the Pacific-focused plan laid out in the Defense Strategic Guidance announced by President Barack Obama in January 2012, Jamie Morin, the director of the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, said this week at an investors’ conference in New York.

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GSA Wants Agencies to Get Smarter About Charge Cards

Perhaps plastic is not the future, after all.

The 265,000 active purchase cards used regularly across the government may give way to more efficient and economical payment tools under the “SmartPay3” program being pursued by the General Services Administration.

In a request for information published Wednesday, GSA asked financial services companies to supply information on best practices to update the SmartPay approach currently used at 350 agencies. Besides traditional plastic credit cards, SmartPay employs virtual and single-use accounts to reduce waste, fraud and abuse while tapping data, the agency said.

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Could solutions used to fight Ebola be a new model for procurement?

Commentary By Doug Burr
Director of Sales and Business Development
Qore Performance

As a small business, finding the proper channels and appropriate contacts to partner with the federal government can be exhausting, and often fruitless no matter your effort or intentions. Amongst tedious filing proceedings, drawn out acquisition bid processes, and archaic regulations and guidelines for submittal are thousands of companies hoping to make a positive impact but lost in the minutia. How can we change this?

Recently, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy created the Ebola Grand Challenge, an effort to expedite this process and draw out solutions from the public in a streamlined, collaborative way.

Through the online idea-sharing platform, OpenIdeo, physicists, mathematicians, inventors, doctors and everyday “Joes” submitted ideas and research to assist aid workers battling this deadly virus. Research and ideas were presented, evaluated, dissected, and often times, combined in an amazing show of collaboration.

Could this be the future of federal acquisitions?

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U.S. Army Orders Oshkosh FMTVs

OSHKOSH, Wis. (Dec. 18, 2014) —  Oshkosh Defense, LLC, an Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE: OSK) company, will produce 256 Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) trucks and trailers for the U.S. Army following a $67 million order from the U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC). Deliveries will occur from 2015 to 2016.

“The Oshkosh FMTV program exemplifies the quality and value that we provide to our military customers,” said John Bryant, senior vice president of defense programs at Oshkosh Defense. “Since the day Oshkosh was awarded the FMTV program, we’ve applied our vehicle expertise and operational efficiency to dramatically improve quality – all while saving U.S. taxpayers more than $2 billion. Today’s Oshkosh-produced FMTVs are supporting soldiers in operations around the world with the more reliable equipment they deserve.”

Oshkosh began producing FMTVs for the U.S. Army in 2010. Since then, Oshkosh has delivered more than 22,000 trucks and 11,000 trailers. In 2012, amidst the sharp ramp up of monthly deliveries, the U.S. Department of Defense recognized Oshkosh with the 2013 Value Engineering Achievement Award. Oshkosh earned the award in the “Contractor” category for significantly improving product quality and reliability, as well as reducing product and life cycle costs.

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Obama approves $1.1 trillion federal spending bill

President Barack Obama signed Congress’ $1.1 trillion spending bill on Tuesday, putting an official end to the last-minute negotiations for the fiscal year 2015 budget — at least for now.

The Senate voted 56-40 late Saturday for the bill, which funds most agencies through September. The House of Representatives voted last week on the spending package, passing it by a vote of 219-206.

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Will the Flak Jacket of the Future Include Organic Sensors?

There’s a saying that was popular among some generals during the war in Iraq: every soldier is a sensor. It speaks the potential of soldiers to collect and relay information to help the broader effort. But the equipment soldiers carry can also serve as a sensor, absorbing data about the soldier’s external experience as well as the physical and mental state of the person in uniform.

The military has been pushing to outfit troops with sensors capable of reporting biophysical feedback on blasts, shocks and other events to which soldiers are exposed. Researchers at the University in California at Berkeley have discovered a way to — potentially — make future body sensors more flexible, cheap and useful by moving away from silicon to an organic carbon compound.

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Ash Carter’s Asia Plans

The nomination of Ashton Carter to replace Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is rumored to be in part due to Hagel’s objections to the White House plan for the Islamic State and the Middle East. But Carter’s true impact may actually be felt most in the Pacific, where he has a record worth examining as U.S. security efforts expand to new, inclusive partnerships.

Carter knows the Obama administration’s intentions for the pivot to Asia. He gave a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies last year where he echoed the oft-repeated talking point that the pivot was primarily an economic matter with security repercussions. The economic focus on Asia is timely; just last week, the International Monetary Fund announced that China had surpassed the United States as the largest economy in the world. As China continues its astonishing economic growth, its influence expands not just in the Pacific but to long-entrenched economic interests in Africa. These economic interests will almost certainly translate into political influence over trading partners as China seeks to reshape the foundations of the international system to reflect its growing portfolio.

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SIPRI Releases Top 100 Defense Company Data

HELSINKI — Sales of arms and military services by the world’s 100 largest arms-producing companies declined for a third consecutive year to $402 billion in 2013, according to new data on international arms production by the Stockholm-based think tank SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute).

However, the pace of decline slowed to 2 percent in real terms in 2013 compared to 3.9 percent in 2012. According to SIPRI, this is partly attributable to significant increases in arms sales by Russian companies and producers in other emerging suppliers.

SIPRI’s Top 100 Companies’ data reveals that sales by companies headquartered in the United States and Canada continued to show a moderate decline, while sales by Russian-based companies increased by 20 percent in 2013.

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What the new budget bill means for defense, VA

The $1.1 trillion spending bill approved by the Senate over the weekend gives the Pentagon $554 billion for fiscal 2015, gives the Veterans Affairs Department $160 billion, and gives much needed predictability to the federal budget.

The agreement was finalized during a rare weekend voting session to avoid a partial government shutdown. Lawmakers in the House and Senate had to pass two short-term funding extensions in the last few days just to ensure programs and offices could remain open.

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Defense Bill Extends Disputed Small Business Program

The massive fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill that cleared Congress on Friday renews for three years an obscure small business program that some industry advocates and the Pentagon itself had argued should be terminated.

Known as the Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program, it was set up in 1990 to “determine if comprehensive subcontracting plans on a corporate, division or plant-wide basis [instead of for individual contracts] would lead to increased opportunities for small businesses,” according to its website.

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