Top 3 FY21 Opportunities at the Department of Education

By Jessica Parks, Analyst

With another busy year end in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look to FY21. While large agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services always attract attention due to their budgets and high-visibility projects, it’s important to remember that other agencies across government also require your assistance to deliver, innovate and economize.

One such agency, the Department of Education, has requested $5 million for FY21 to establish a Working Capital Fund, showing that accelerating IT modernization will be a priority. Read on for the top 3 areas poised for significant investment.

1) NextGen Federal Student Aid (FSA)

Located in the Office of Federal Student Aid, this approximately $1B program seeks to improve the experience of external customers (such as students) in their interactions with FSA. The program covers a myriad of areas, from business process management to cybersecurity to data management and analytics. High on the list for FY21 are mobile solutions, self-service tools (think machine learning and AI solutions) and records and content management.  Read more of this post

CMMC Interim Rule Includes New Compliance Requirements

By Hollie Kapos, Corporate Counsel

You never know what surprises will pop up in the last few days of the government’s fiscal year, and this year there was a big one with the Interim Rule implementing DOD’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC).

The Interim Rule (“IR”), published on September 29, 2020 and effective as of November 30, 2020, adds the widely anticipated new DFARS clause for inclusion in DOD contracts implementing CMMC: 252.204-7021 (Contractor Compliance with the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Level Requirement). No surprise there.

But, the IR unexpectedly came with two additional clauses, DFARS 252.204-7019 (Notice of NIST SP 800-171 DOD Assessment Requirements) and DFARS 252.204-7020 (NIST SP 800-171 DOD Assessment Requirements), which require the immediate attention of federal contractors and their subs.  Read more of this post

Top CAPEX Investment Areas in Navy IT for FY21

By Toné Mason, DOD Senior Analyst

In accordance with the FY21 President’s budget request, the Navy is on track to receive a boost of more than $200M in CAPEX funding for the new fiscal year, which brings FY21 CAPEX funding for Navy IT to more than $1B.

The top 3 Navy programs seeing the biggest boosts in funding in FY21 are also among the top 5 DOD programs receiving the most CAPEX funding.

Here are the Navy programs at the top of the list: Read more of this post

GSA’s VPP: Why You Should Care

By Tara Franzonello, GSA Programs Consultant

GSA is beginning Phase I of its Verified Products Portal (VPP), targeting OEMs and wholesalers, with a goal to have the portal up and running in 2021. Why should OEMs, distributors or resellers care? Simple: If you don’t do VPP right, you could cause problems both for you and your supply chain.

The VPP is intended to host authoritative product content — standardized manufacturer names and part numbers, for example – to improve GSA’s supply chain risk management, as well as the customer experience. This information ideally would be provided directly by OEMs, although resellers and distributors can also create VPP profiles.

Besides product specifications, the VPP will accommodate other information such as photos and pricing data. OEMs will be able to use the portal to authorize and deauthorize products and resellers in real-time, which could eliminate the need for resellers to provide letters of supply.  Read more of this post

How IT Can Help Streamline the Voting Process and Improve Accountability

By Charles Castelly, Analyst

With the presidential election around the corner, citizens are contemplating when and how they are going to vote — in person or via mail-in ballot. This is an unusual year due to concerns stemming from the global pandemic, and with that comes necessary changes for both governments and voters. The outcome of this election will rely heavily on mail-in voting, which presents some unique challenges.

Election accountability is especially crucial this year and with only a few weeks remaining, states are rushing to ensure their systems are up to par and can handle the influx of mail-in ballots expected.

Citizens are demanding accountability in the vote tabulation. Several states have rolled out applications that enable citizens to track their ballots — from request to vote count. However, there are handful of states that do not currently have an online tracking option, such as Connecticut, Mississippi, Missouri, Wyoming and New York. Other states have tracking at a state level but have little to no tracking capability at the county level.  Read more of this post

CMMC – Will the COTS Exception Apply to Me?

By Jeff Ellinport, Division Counsel

CMMC, DOD’s Capability Maturity Model Certification, will require almost all government contractors doing business with the Department of Defense to be independently certified by a third party as meeting one of five cyber security standards. This requirement will apply to every link in the government’s supply chain – including OEMs, distributors and resellers.

To the relief of many contractors, DOD updated its CMMC FAQs a few months ago to provide this exception (the only one so far): CMMC certification will not be required for companies that only provide commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) items. 

Under NIST SP 800-161, COTS is defined as “Software and hardware that already exists and is available from commercial sources.” Under FAR 2.101, COTS means any item of supply, other than real property, that is: Read more of this post

Two Areas of Growth for Cloud Solutions in FY21

By Jessica Parks, Analyst

With the federal government on track to invest $7.1B in cloud technologies by the end of FY20 (according to Bloomberg), the cloud migration train is chugging right along with no signs of stopping. While it may seem like there is endless opportunity in the federal market for PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS-related solutions, you will still want to maintain a strategic and targeted approach. As always, you will want to have at least a baseline idea of where your customers are at in their cloud journey, but you will also want to keep an eye on the following two areas where agencies will be looking for your assistance in FY21.

Data Management and Sharing

With the ever-increasing flow of information, how to manage, secure and transfer that data – especially the associated costs – continues to be a major concern for agencies. Chezian Sivagnanam, Chief Enterprise Architect at the National Science Foundation, stated in a Federal News Network webinar back in March that in the future, IT teams will be “focused on moving data, not servers.”  Read more of this post

Top CAPEX Investment Areas in Air Force IT for FY21

By Toné Mason, DOD Senior Analyst

Capital expenditure funding is where new opportunities lie for IT spending. In this blog, I will cover the top 5 CAPEX-funded IT efforts the Air Force has slated for FY21:

(1) B-52 Defense Research and Engineering Network – Tinker | FY21 CAPEX: $135M

The B-52 Defense Research and Engineering Network program at Tinker Air Force Base is a relatively new program which received initial funding in FY20. With zero steady state/operation and maintenance funds allocated, this a good time to get involved with this program. The program is focused on providing a fast and efficient network connections for the B-52 engineering virtual desktop environment (VDI). Contractors with experience in network infrastructure, servers, storage, endpoints, workflow management, 5G and cybersecurity should consider this program. Read more of this post

How Emergency Management Can Be Improved With Technology


By Charles Castelly, Analyst

While state and local governments continue to provide resources to address the current pandemic, many will also have to manage emergency response on a second front. Recent natural disasters around the country, such as earthquakes, wildfires and hurricanes, are placing even more of a strain on already over-taxed state and local governments.

Technology is a crucial element of emergency response efforts — from the radios and broadband networks employed by first responders to the communications systems used to share information with the public. State and local governments will be even more reliant on technology now, during these natural disasters to quickly administer emergency response – as they continue to lessen the impact of the current pandemic.

Here’s how the vendor community can help government be prepared to respond to any natural disaster. Read more of this post

Cloud or On-Premises? Government Can Have Both

By Ray Miles, Strategic Account Executive

Despite the growth and adoption of public clouds in government, a large majority of their applications remain outside and are maintained on-premises. As the evolution of cloud continues, government customers are faced with making the difficult decisions about which remaining applications should be placed in the cloud and which ones should remain on-premises.

Why remain on-premises?

There are many reasons for keeping applications and data on-premises, including application entanglement, data accessibility and resilience, security and compliance, unpredictable costs, exorbitant egress fees and at times the inability to capitalize on information everywhere.

The next phase of “Cloud First” will require an approach that enables government to innovate and modernize all of their applications and workloads, including those at the edge and on-premises. Organizations will need to connect all of their applications and data to devices to support employees and their customers — and meet their mission-critical objectives.

It is becoming even more complex as environments are starting to incorporate newer technologies for development operations, container management, machine learning operations, virtual machines, storage, high performance computing, data protection and networking to the edge. Read more of this post

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