OMB: FITARA Guidance Coming This Week

Attention, agency chief information officers: Guidance for implementing the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act is coming by the end of this week, the Office of Management and Budget announced Monday.

The announcement came in a Federal Register notice, which asked for public comment on the forthcoming guidance. (The draft guidance will be posted on

Congress approved the sweeping federal IT reform legislation last December as part of an annual Defense policy bill. Since being named the federal CIO in February, Tony Scott, a former industry executive, said recently his time has been “consumed” with mapping out the guidelines.

The thrust of the new legislation gives agency CIOs greater power over their agency’s IT purse strings, mandating CIOs have final sign-off on their annual IT budgets and sole final authority to sign IT contract and reprogram IT funds.

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Navy shipbuilding contracts help offset cuts in Army truck orders

About halfway through the federal government’s fiscal-year 2015, Wisconsin is benefiting from a U.S. Navy shipbuilding program, while spending for military trucks made in the state has fallen sharply from previous highs.

It’s almost polar opposites, said Jerry Murphy, executive director of New North, an economic development group that represents industry in eight counties of northeastern Wisconsin.

In Marinette, about 1,500 people are building Navy combat vessels designed for a variety of missions including shallow, coastal waters. The program has been a mainstay of employment at the Marinette Marine shipyard and hundreds of its suppliers, including companies in the Milwaukee area.

Marinette’s economy is “enormously healthy,” Murphy said, including non-defense sectors such as the paper and metal-fabrication industries.

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FY 2016 NDAA

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016 is the comprehensive legislation to authorize the budget authority of the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy.

This will be the online home for all resources related to the 2016 NDAA including Markup Schedule, Subcommittee and Full Committee Markups, Amendments and will be updated as soon as information is available.

White House Procurement Chief Wants Acquisition SWAT Team

Citing as a model the U.S. Digital Service information technology fix-it team, the White House procurement chief said she hopes to create and train an elite acquisition group to help the Obama administration implement its category management efficiency reforms.

Anne Rung, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, told journalists at Bloomberg Government on Wednesday she envisions starting with perhaps 20 acquisition specialists who have “street cred” with agency contracting officers and assembling them for six months of training before returning them to their agencies to help write simplified and more market-savvy requirements for federal purchasing solicitations.

Rung said her top priorities during the final 21 months of the Obama administration include driving contract innovation and improving agency relationships with vendors. But the No. 1 issue is category management, an approach to bulk purchasing used by private sector giants such as Boeing and Macy’s as well as the government of the United Kingdom.

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Carter Unveils New Cyber Defense Roadmap

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is positioning the military to assume a key role in combating potentially devastating cyber attacks against the United States. Cyber threats are “one of the world’s most complex challenges today,” Carter said April 23 during a lecture at Stanford University titled “Rewiring the Pentagon: Charting a New Path on Innovation and Cybersecurity.”

The cyber threat against U.S. interests is “increasing in severity and sophistication,” said Carter. “And it comes from state and non-state actors alike. Just as Russia and China have advanced cyber capabilities and strategies ranging from stealthy network penetration to intellectual property theft, criminal and terrorist networks are also increasing their cyber operations. Low-cost and global proliferation of malware have lowered barriers to entry and made it easier for smaller malicious actors to strike in cyberspace.”

Carter’s plan for combating these threats is articulated in the Pentagon’s new cyber strategy, which he chose to release in front of a premier audience of technologists attending Stanford University’s prestigious Drell Lecture on public policy.

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Backseat drivers plague procurement

Top defense acquisition managers on likened the procurement process in the armed services to a dysfunctionally piloted bus with dozens of backseat drivers — and did so in front of some of those drivers.

“Each seat on the bus is equipped with its own steering wheel and brakes, but no accelerator,” Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Heidi Shyu said during an April 22 hearing before the Senate Armed Services Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee.

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Seapower Markup Supports US Navy Programs

WASHINGTON — The US Navy’s fiscal 2016 budget submissions in general enjoy support on Capitol Hill, but questions remain about several programs and certain strategic direction aspects.

With its markup released Wednesday morning, the House Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee provided several answers about how the debate could go, showing strong backing across the board for shipbuilding and war-fighting programs.

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Beyond Vision provides employment to Milwaukee’s blind

Beyond Vision is much like any other Milwaukee-area manufacturer, offering such capabilities as CNC milling, CNC turning and manual machining.

The difference is the majority of the work at Beyond Vision, a 501(c)3 nonprofit company, is done by blind employees. About half of its approximately 90 employees are blind, one-third of whom are completely blind and the other two-thirds of whom have varying degrees of blindness.

Beyond Vision, formerly called Wiscraft Inc., is part of a national network of about 100 companies that employ the blind. First known as the Wisconsin Workshop for the Blind, the company started in 1903 as a state agency with the mission of providing employment opportunities to the legally blind.

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Census begins stretch run vowing not to make same mistakes

The Census Bureau will release an operational plan for the 2020 population count in the next five months.

Government Accountability Office experts warned this is a key time for the bureau as it needs to get that strategy right in order to avoid many of the same mistakes that impacted the 2000 and 2010 decennial counts.

The operational plan will lay out how the Census thinks the 2020 count will work, including plans for using new technologies to the hiring of enumerators in the field to the innovations in the works that could save the bureau $5 billion.

John Thompson, the director of the Census Bureau, said his agency is better prepared for the 2020 count and it will be reflected in the September document.

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Defense Contractors Unsatisfied with Thornberry’s Acquisition Bill

The largest contractors trade organization has asked the House Armed Services Committee to rethink several components of its bill to reform the Pentagon’s acquisition process, opposing in particular a plan to centralize decision-making on whether to buy products on the existing commercial market.

The 400-company Professional Services Council on April 17 sent a letter to committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, and top Democrat Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., calling their bill (H.R. 1597) a step in the right direction, but raising several objections over provisions they said might place contractors at a disadvantage while complicating acquisition management.

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