New National Defense Strategy Prioritizes High-Tech Equipment, Acquisition Reforms

The Pentagon’s new national defense strategy, an unclassified summary of which was released Jan. 19, prioritizes the procurement of high-end capabilities and streamlining business practices.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis outlined the areas of emphasis in a speech at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., which he delivered the same day that the unclassified summary was released and the classified version of the strategy was delivered to Congress.

“Today America’s military reclaims an era of strategic purpose,” Mattis said. “We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists… but great power competition — not terrorism — is now the primary focus of U.S. national security.”

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Section 809 Panel Podcast

Commissioner Charlie Williams is on the Audit and Compliance Team at the Section 809 Panel. The goal of the team is to ensure contracting officers receive timely and insightful information to improve acquisition outcomes and protect government interests. The team will make bold recommendations that value time, apply risk-based approaches, and incorporate commercial auditing standards to the maximum extent possible to simplify and streamline all aspects of acquisition compliance.

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MMSD Small Business Certification

*NEW* Effective December 5, 2017, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) modified its Small Business Enterprise (SBE) certification program to align with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in its definition of a small business.

Previously, MMSD defined a small business as a business not exceeding 2.5 million in gross sales during the most recent calendar or fiscal year. Moving forward, a small business is defined as a business not exceeding the SBA size standard for its industry.

A size standard represents the largest size that a business (including its subsidiaries and affiliates) may be to remain classified as a small business. SBA size standards vary by industry classification and can be defined by average annual receipts for the past three years or average number of employees over the past twelve months.

Businesses can use the SBA size standards tool to determine if their business can be classified as a small business.

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Navy gets savvy with contracting rules to avoid maintenance problems due to CR

The Navy is making progress on repairs it needs to make on its fleet of ships.

The service is seeing a 75 percent reduction in the days that ships are unable to be operational due to maintenance issues or repairs since 2014, said Real Adm. James Downey, deputy commander for surface warfare at the Navy Regional Maintenance Center.

“Coming through 2014, it was nearly 5,000 lost operational days, 4,900 and change,” Downey said during a Jan. 11 speech at the Surface Naval Association Conference in Arlington, Virginia. “As of November 2017, we closed out at about 1,165 lost operational days. We are still not where we need to be. The 75 percent reduction over the last three to four years is principally due to efforts put in place by my predecessors on process, on standing up various planning activities and on strategy.”

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New Administrator for US SBA Great Lakes Region

COLUMBUS – The U.S. Small Business Administration has appointed Robert Scott, as the regional administrator for SBA’s Great Lakes Region (Region V), which covers Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. He joins five other regional administrators announced today by the federal agency. As regional administrator, Scott will oversee SBA operations, seven district offices and federal small business assistance programs throughout the six-state region, and will be based out of the SBA’s district office in Columbus, Ohio.

“I am very pleased that we now have six new Regional Administrators in place that can help support me and the President in serving as a voice and go-to resource for our nation’s 30 million small businesses. I will rely on them heavily as we move forward in 2018 and beyond and look forward to working closely with each one of them,” SBA Administrator Linda McMahon said.

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New NDAA purchasing rules should benefit government shoppers, small business

The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) rules governing the acquisition of commercial items should give those making relatively small purchases more choices, and small businesses more hope for getting a piece of the federal spending pie.

Since President Donald Trump signed the 2018 NDAA into law on Dec. 12, the focus has been on rules providing a three-fold increase in the micro-purchase threshold for civilian agencies from $3,000 to $10,000.

A micro-purchase, because of its relatively low value, doesn’t require competition. With few limitations, it allows contracting officers to buy any product from any company, so long as it doesn’t exceed the $10,000 threshold.

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White House names acquisition leaders at DOD, Air Force

The White House announced nominations for two key defense acquisition positions Jan. 3 for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Air Force.

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U.S. DOT’s FY 2018 SBIR Solicitation Opens on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 and Closes on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. ET

A synopsis of the solicitation is available on

Research Topic Titles

Full descriptions and funding levels will not be made available until Wednesday, January 17, 2018.  Topics in this solicitation may include:

Federal Highway Administration

  • 18-FH1: Machine Vision System to Support Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) Safety Applications
  • 18-FH2: Use of High Resolution Imaging Techniques for Condition Assessment and Damage Detection of Bridges
  • 18-FH3: Integrated Sensor Unit for Signalized Intersections
  • 18-FH4: An Artificial Intelligence (AI) Based System for Advanced Freeway Data Collection and Analysis

Federal Railroad Administration

  • 18-FR1: Analysis of Acoustic Wheel/Rail Contact Signals
  • 18-FR2: AI Tools for Relating Various Sensor Data to Adverse Vehicle/Track Inspection
  • 18-FR3: System Design for Remote and/or Autonomous Operation of a Locomotive Hauled Consist
  • 18-FR4: Drone-Based Track Safety Inspection System

Federal Transit Administration

  • 18-FT1: Virtual and Augmented Reality to Aid Transit Use by All Travelers

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

  • 18-NH1: Digital Application to Improve Consumers Access to NHTSA Safety Information
  • 18-NH2: Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and Other Crash Data Visualization and Analysis Tool

Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

  • 18-PH1: Innovative Technologies for Nondestructive Determination of Fracture Toughness for Pipeline Steels in Transportation Infrastructure
  • 18-PH2: Dual Purpose Internal Integrity Assessment and Cleaning Tool for Hazardous Liquid Pipelines

Pre-Proposal Webinar

A pre-proposal webinar for anyone interested in applying to the solicitation will be held on Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 1:30 pm ET. Anyone interested in applying is urged to attend this webinar, which will provide information on the application process and featured solicitation topics.

You may register any time prior to noon on the day of the conference by clicking here. Upon receipt of your registration, you will receive information for connecting to the conference.

Minority- and Women-Owned Business Contracting: Analysis of DOD Contract Awards, Fiscal Years 2010-2016

The Department of Defense—like other federal agencies—encourages minority-owned and women-owned businesses to apply for contracts to supply products and services.

We looked into DOD’s spending on products and services supplied by these types of businesses, and found that it spent $32 billion in FY 2016. Although that is 12% less than in FY 2010, overall spending by DOD decreased 27% during the same period.

About 77 percent of the contracts were for services (such as engineering or technical support), and the rest were for products (such as IT software).

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