DOT to build National Transit Map from local open data

To get a better view of transportation issues across the country, the Department of Transportation wants to build a National Transit Map from open transit data collected from local and state transit agencies. Such a map could help DOT pinpoint areas that experience gaps in public transportation.

In a letter to transit agencies, Transportation Secretary Anthony R. Foxx asked them to share the link to their General Transit Feed Specification formatted data or other machine-readable data. DOT would take a periodic snapshot from the local agencies’ feeds so their routing and schedules can be incorporated into the national map. Data collection would occur no more than once a month.

“With this information in hand, DOT, planning agencies and researchers can do a far better job of demonstrating the importance and role of transit in American society and identify and address gaps in access to public transportation,” Foxx wrote in the letter.

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Juneau County plays its part

When you think of government buying, you probably think of all the stuff that the Department of Defense (DoD) procures for fighting terrorism or the cost of services that the Government purchases for healthcare. And rightly so, for that is where the bulk of federal government contracts are awarded in Wisconsin. Wisconsin businesses were awarded close to three billion dollars-worth of contracts in 2015 with 40,299 contracts being transacted. Though Oshkosh Defense, LLC is the elephant in the room with a little over one billion dollars in sales to the government, we do have the next largest prime contractor close by with Logistics Health in La Crosse.

As far as Juneau County goes, we are small potatoes but we do play our part. We were awarded approximately 99 million dollars in 2015 covering 323 contracts. We seem to have found our niche as being excellent sub-contractors to the primes like Lockheed, Raytheon and other large companies. In fact, Walker Stainless Equipment Co. Inc. was number four in the state for subcontracting work with a little over 14 million dollars in sales.

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JLTV Program Cost Estimate Drops By $6 Billion

WASHINGTON — The acquisition cost estimate of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program has dropped by nearly $6 billion, according to a Pentagon Selected Acquisition Report (SAR) released Thursday.

The program cost is down by over 19 percent from $30.6 billion to $24.7 billion due to “revised estimates” of the unit cost of vehicles and kits, the SAR reads. Breaking that down, the lower cost estimate is based on $3.7 billion in realized savings, $1.3 billion in adjustments due to a stretched out procurement and $550 million due to a changed methodology in estimating technical data package costs, among a few other factors.

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GSA to Highlight Small Business Forecast Tool to Make it Easier for Small Businesses to Access Forecasting Opportunities Across Government

WASHINGTON — Today, the Associate Administrator of the Office of Small Business Utilization Jerome Fletcher held a Google hangout around the Forecast of Contracting Opportunities Tool. GSA’s internal technology team “18F” created this tool on behalf of the Office of Small Business Utilization, to make it easier for small businesses to locate contracting opportunities with federal agencies. With this tool, small businesses can now easily sort through forecasted contracting data by agency, contract award status,  location, North American Industry Classification System Code and Contract Value.

Quote from Jerome : “The Forecast Tool provides a tremendous opportunity for GSA to make it easier for vendors to find forecasting information and opportunities in the federal government. This is a great example of the work the Office of Small Business Utilization does. We are always looking for new ways to improve communication and transparency to give businesses the edge they need to be successful in the federal market.”

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Rung, OFPP sow seeds of acquisition reform

Anne Rung took the stage at ACT-IAC’s Acquisition Excellence 2016 conference on March 22 for what seemed a farewell lap as much as an update on the government’s efforts to update its procurement infrastructure.

“If it’s not too awkward, I am just going to put my resume up on the screen here,” she joked.

With less than a year left on her tenure, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy administrator delivered policy updates and goals for the rest of 2016, emphasizing the speed of digital services and the advancements it can bring.

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Oshkosh Corp begins JLTV work, wins Army award to carry production through November 2017

Since Monday, Oshkosh Corp. has netted $677 million in new defense contracts.

The U.S. Army on Monday granted Oshkosh Corp. three contracts totaling $433 million to rebuild and renew a host of used military vehicles. On Wednesday, the Army awarded the company a $243 million contract to build 675 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV) by December 2024.

The contracts represent the first wave of an award that could net Oshkosh Corp., the state’s largest federal contractor, $30 billion over the next 25 years.

Meanwhile, the contracts will create jobs at Oshkosh Corp. and boost job growth at companies that supply the defense contractor, said Aina Vilumsons, executive director of Wisconsin Procurement Institute (WPI).

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Pentagon Enlists Watson to Fix Weapon Buying

Cognitive computing is being enlisted in the latest effort to fix the hidebound U.S. weapon acquisition process.

Specifically, IBM’s Watson has been tapped by the U.S. Air Force to develop new artificial intelligence tools to help manage cumbersome acquisition rules while helping procurement officials and prospective contractors navigate the swamp that is federal purchasing guidelines.

According to a report in the Washington Post, the Air Force was to deploy Watson as a potential “bureaucracy buster” as the service responds to growing calls in Congress to fix the way the Pentagon buys weapons and services. Acquisition reform efforts tend to resurface about once a decade, but this time lawmakers are concerned that faster technology cycles will make costly weapons obsolete by the time they are deployed.

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Veteran-Owned Small Businesses: VA Improved Its Verification Program but Lacks an Effective Operational Plan for Ongoing Efforts

Since GAO’s 2013 report, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) took significant steps to improve how it verifies and communicates with veteran-owned small businesses, consistent with several of GAO’s previous recommendations. VA reported that due to process improvements, it reduced average application processing times by more than 50 percent—from 85 days in 2012 to 41 in 2015. VA reported that it generally met its regulatory goals for application processing, and GAO’s review of randomly selected application files generally corroborated this statement. VA refined the program’s quality controls and implemented an internal audit process. Veterans’ organizations and verification counselors with whom GAO spoke noted improvements in VA’s communications and interactions with veterans, although three of the four verification counselors with whom GAO spoke suggested the program’s website could be clearer and all four said the agency’s letters to veterans could be clearer. In response, VA officials said they have been redesigning the website to make documents easier to locate. Officials also said the regulatory language in the letters was necessary and they encourage veterans to obtain free assistance with their applications from VA-certified counselors.

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Thornberry wants another take on Pentagon acquisition reform

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) has for the second year running introduced a standalone acquisition reform bill in the hopes of shaping Congress’s annual defense policy legislation.

Themes of this year’s Thornberry bill, the Acquisition Agility Act, include encouraging experimentation and prototyping of technology; requiring systems to be built with open architecture in order to encourage competition; and clarifying the intellectual property rights of companies working with the Defense Department.

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Is Telework a Growing Cyber Threat? New Guidelines Offer Security Tips

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is revising its telework guidance to address cybersecurity concerns associated with employees who access work content on their personal smartphones, tablets and computers.

A bring-your-own-device policy could make organizations vulnerable to hackers, new draft guidance from NIST suggests. For example, employers are finding that “many data breaches occur when attackers can steal important information from a network by first attacking computers used for telework,” Murugiah Souppaya, a NIST computer scientist, said in a blog post published this week.

The agency is collecting public comment on the new draft telework guidance, which include security-related recommendations for both the organizations and the employees themselves, including suggestions to create separate, external networks for personal devices.

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