Homeland Security Offers Training to Combat Human Trafficking

Courses offered by Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers will now include material aimed at raising awareness of human trafficking within the United States, the Homeland Security Department announced on Wednesday.

The announcement, made as part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, said the centers, which serve law enforcement agents from every Cabinet agency, will now “equip graduates with the ability to better recognize signs of human trafficking that they might encounter in their routine law enforcement duties.”

Continue reading: http://www.govexec.com/defense/2016/01/homeland-security-offers-training-combat-human-trafficking/125509/?oref=govexec_today_pm_nl

SBA Finalizes Rule to Adjust Monetary Based Size Standards For Inflation

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) finalized an interim final rule that adjusted monetary based small business size standards (i.e., receipts, assets, net worth and income) for inflation.  The final rule was published in the Federal Register on January 25th and will be effective immediately.

On June 12, 2014, SBA published an interim final rule increasing all industry specific monetary based size standards (except for size standards for most agricultural enterprises that are set by statute) by 8.73 percent to reflect the inflation that occurred since the last adjustment for inflation in 2008.  The changes became effective July 14, 2014.  These changes were in addition to the recent revisions as a result of the SBA’s comprehensive size standards review mandated by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (Jobs Act).

The final rule, as well as the June 12, 2014 interim final rule, can be viewed/downloaded at www.regulations.gov, identified by the following RIN number: RIN 3245-AG60.

SBA also adjusted its program specific monetary size standards with the exception of the new alternative size standard based on tangible net worth and net income that applies to SBA’s 7(a) and 504 loan programs.  The new alternative standard was established under the Jobs Act and will remain in effect until the SBA establishes a permanent alternative size standard for these programs.

Continue reading: https://www.sba.gov/content/sba-finalizes-rule-adjust-monetary-based-size-standards-inflation

Schedule 70 sees growth in fiscal 2015

The General Services Administration’s IT Schedule 70 pulled in $14.8 billion in business in fiscal 2015 — an increase of 3 percent, or $424 million, from the previous year. Federal agencies use the schedule to buy IT products, services and solutions from almost 5,000 preapproved contractors.

In a Jan. 25 blog post, Mary Davie, assistant commissioner of GSA’s Office of Integrated Technology Services, said agencies spent most of their IT procurement money on three categories: professional services, perpetual software licenses and hardware.

Continue reading: https://fcw.com/articles/2016/01/27/gsa-schedule-70-rockwell.aspx?s=fcwdaily_280116

USDA announces open data challenge winners

The Department of Agriculture on Jan. 27 announced the winners of its USDA-Microsoft Innovation Challenge to use USDA open data to build online tools that could help strengthen the country’s food resiliency in the face of a changing climate.

The challenge launched in July 2015 as part of the White House’s Climate Data Initiative. Working with more than 100 years of crop and climate data provided by the USDA through Microsoft Azure’s cloud environment, participants were asked to come up with new applications that farmers, ranchers, agriculture businesses, scientists and producers could use to improve food production.

“We are anxious and interested in making sure we use all of the tools available to inform producers as to how best to conduct their operations,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

Continue reading: https://gcn.com/articles/2016/01/27/usda-open-data-challenge-winners.aspx?s=gcntech_280116

SBA Revises Size Standards for Wholesale Trade and Retail Trade Industries

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) increased small business size standards affecting businesses in 46 industries in North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Sector 42, Wholesale Trade, and in one industry in Sector 44-45, Retail Trade.  SBA retained the current size standards for the remaining industries in those sectors.  The final rule was published in the Federal Register on January 25th and will be effective February 26, 2016.

As part of the review of all size standards under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (Jobs Act), SBA reviewed 73 employee based size standards in those sectors to determine whether they should be revised or retained.

The revised size standards would define the maximum number of employees a firm in these industries could have and still be a small business.  The revisions primarily affect the eligibility for SBA’s financial assistance programs.  Nearly 4,000 more firms will become eligible for SBA’s loan programs under the revised size standards.

SBA also retained the current 500-employee size standard for federal procurement of supplies under its non-manufacturer rule.  Wholesale Trade and Retail Trade NAICS codes and their size standards do not apply to procurement of supplies.  Therefore, the revisions do not affect the eligibility for contracting opportunities for small businesses.

The final rule can be viewed at www.regulations.gov, identified by the following RIN number: RIN 3245-AG49.

In reviewing size standards, SBA takes into account the structural characteristics of individual industries, including average firm size, startup cost and entry barriers, the degree of competition, and small business share of federal government contracting dollars.  This ensures that small business size definitions reflect current economic conditions and federal marketplace in those industries.  Under the Jobs Act, SBA is required to review all size standards at least every five years.

A White Paper entitled, “Size Standards Methodology,” which explains how SBA establishes, reviews, or modifies its receipts based and employee based small business size standards, can be viewed at http://www.sba.gov/size.

For more information about SBA’s revisions to its small business size standards for various industry sectors, click on “What’s New with Size Standards” on SBA’s Web site at http://www.sba.gov/size.

Pentagon in open brawl over spending priorities (LCS program in the crosshairs)

A brawl has broken out at the top rungs of the Pentagon over how to prepare the military for long-term threats, in a rare public fight that pits leaders of the military branches against Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

Carter wants to use the Pentagon’s upcoming, approximately $580 billion budget request to solidify the Obama administration’s goals of investing in more advanced weapons such as next-generation fighters and submarines, and high-demand skills such as cyber warfare.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/01/pentagon-budget-ash-carter-army-navy-218209#ixzz3ySdvFzuN

With Lockheed Deal, Leidos Now the Government’s Largest IT Provider

Lockheed Martin announced Tuesday it’s spinning off its $5 billion IT business and merging it with former rival defense IT firm Leidos.

The companies announced the deal this morning, six months after Bethesda-based Lockheed – the largest defense contractor – signaled it was looking to spin off its Information Systems & Global Solutions business, which currently employs some 16,000 people.

Lockheed Martin Chief Executive Officer Marillyn Hewson said the company can now focus narrowly on its aerospace and defense businesses, which includes its gargantuan F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the most expensive weapons program ever.

Continue reading: http://www.nextgov.com/defense/2016/01/lockheed-deal-leidos-now-governments-largest-it-provider/125437/?oref=govexec_today_nl

OMB, Agencies Need to Read the Fine Print in 2016 Budget

Buried deep in the 2016 consolidated appropriations bill passed by Congress late last year to avert another government shutdown there are a number of obscure provisions that have important implications for the Office of Management and Budget and federal agencies. Like a trail of bread crumbs left by some performance-obsessed Hansel and Gretel, they point to a world of improved management.

But the law is over 2,000 pages long, with more details in the accompanying committee reports. So allow me to steer you to five noteworthy requirements for agencies and OMB:

Continue reading: http://www.govexec.com/excellence/promising-practices/2016/01/omb-agencies-need-read-fine-print-2016-budget/125419/?oref=govexec_today_nl

New contracting rule targets confidentiality agreements

The federal government is advancing a crackdown on contractor confidentiality agreements with a proposed amendment to the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

The amendment, called for by the 2015 appropriations law, would block contractors that required employees or subcontractors to sign confidentiality agreements, should those internal agreements keep workers from reporting waste, fraud and abuse to the government. The ban would apply to contacts paid with appropriated funding for fiscal year 2015 and beyond.

Continue reading: https://fcw.com/articles/2016/01/25/far-whistleblower-noble.aspx?s=fcwdaily_260116

426th RTI hosts first-ever course for new artillery MOS

FORT MCCOY, Wis. — The Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 426th Regional Training Institute at Fort McCoy continues to lead the way in the Army’s field artillery community.

The RTI hosted the Army’s first-ever course for the new 13J military occupation specialty Jan. 3-23, which merged the fire direction and control occupations of both cannons (13D) and rocket systems (13P) into one integrated MOS.

The 13J course taught students how to process missions for both cannons and rockets, which requires students to receive information from forward observers and process that information into data that the cannons or rockets can use to fire. Ultimately 11 students from around the country, including three from the Wisconsin Army National Guard, will graduate as the first nationwide to have completed the course.

Continue reading: http://dma.wi.gov/DMA/news/2016news/16009