Hidden data opportunities in the Air Force FY22 budget

By Lloyd McCoy, senior market intelligence manager

There are IT opportunities with the Air Force in FY22 that are not apparent at first glance. If your organization handles data hosting, analysis and security, you need to look deeper.

FY22 funding will likely see roughly flat to 2% growth for the Air Force’s budget. As with FY21, which had a total budget of about $8B for IT, the largest concentration of IT dollars next year will go to support command and control and logistics.

Remember, however, that these numbers do not represent the total addressable market for IT. That’s especially true within the R&D portion of the Air Force budget, which emphasizes AI, machine learning systems and unmanned systems, as well as establishing a defendable space posture. There are IT dollars to be spent in those areas even if they may not be counted within a specific IT program.

Let’s look at two of these hidden opportunities.

(1) Leveraging data as a strategic asset

The Air Force wants to evolve the role played by data in everything they do – particularly in the area of predictive analytics. The service wants to find ways to use AI and machine learning for things like maintenance, creating savings to be reallocated elsewhere. Predictive analytics also can be applied to military maneuvers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.

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What Is a Program?

By Lloyd McCoy, Senior Market Intelligence Manager

If you’ve attended any of immixGroup’s briefings or webinars, you’ve probably heard us say that programs are the most important insertion points for most technology purchases within the federal government, especially for COTS products. In this blog we’ll walk through why they are important and what you should know before engaging with program offices.

But first, what is a program?

Programs, or more formally Programs of Record, are budget line items that exist to fulfill an agency’s mission. The Department of Defense’s definition is a good one and applies governmentwide: a funded effort that provides a new, improved, or continuing materiel, weapon or information system or service capability in response to an approved need. That pretty much sums up a program’s purpose, whether it’s DHS, USDA or DOD. Program managers run the program and most programs include some IT. Some programs are only IT focused.

Program Offices, Program Managers

Programs are so important because they are at the sweet spot of a department’s technology acquisition hierarchy with the program manager being senior enough to have a role in shaping the strategy and policy discussions surrounding the program’s mission. In addition, his or her office also represents the end user who will be using your product or service in the course of doing their job. Consequently, the program office has a central role in influencing the specifications and choices around the product or service.

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NIST IoT Security Guidelines Will Impact Federal Vendors

Lloyd McCoy Jr.

By Lloyd McCoy, Market Intelligence Manager

Last week, NIST released draft IoT security guidelines which will have far reaching impacts on security requirements contractors must follow before selling IoT-related technology to the government. These guidelines are some of the action items coming from the IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2020, a law passed in December that calls for established cybersecurity standards for IoT devices purchased by the federal government.

The new law requires NIST and OMB to shape and enforce security standards agencies need to follow when purchasing IoT devices. NIST has until March 2021 to finalize standards and guidelines. These draft regulations represent that first step. Vendors are invited to submit comments by February 12, 2021 – and they should take advantage of this opportunity!

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Federal Tech Priorities in the Next Administration Will Not Change

Lloyd McCoy Jr.

By Lloyd McCoy, Market Intelligence Senior Manager

Regardless of changes in administration, count on federal government priorities staying steady over the next four years. You can look for continued focus on data use, the cloud and government procurement, as well as supply chain securityparticularly for emerging technologies like 5G.

Why? Many IT initiatives have been codified by laws.

For example, both the SECURE Technology Act and recent National Defense Authorization Act require the federal government to reduce supply chain threats and set criteria for products that may pose risks to the government. For vendors, it’s more important than ever to be able to trace exactly where your products originate.

The Modernizing Government Technology Act (MGT) allows agencies to apply money to IT modernization programs through working capital funds. The Technology Modernization Fund lets agencies borrow for emergency modernization projects. Vendors would be well advised to pay attention to what agencies are doing here to understand procurement goals. Read more of this post

Military Space Programs Emerge as a Top Priority in 2021

Lloyd McCoy Jr.

By Lloyd McCoy, Market Intelligence Manager

While passage of the 2021 budget is still months away, Congress and the White House are busy crafting the final version of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. This is the most important budget document for the Department of Defense as it establishes funding levels and sets the policies under which money will be spent. As such, it’s a reliable barometer for DOD priorities in the next year or two.

There’s a clear consensus emerging between the Administration and Congress on space as a high priority and the upcoming NDAA will call for a strengthened role in space for our military. More specifically, acquiring the infrastructure and technologies that will further development of space-based assets and capabilities will be spelled out.

Let’s look at where we expect IT solutions to be most needed in the space domain:  Read more of this post

Shifting Priorities in the Upcoming FY21 Budget

Lloyd McCoy Jr.

By Lloyd McCoy, Market Intelligence Manager

With the start of the FY21 fiscal year just a few months away, the debate between the executive and legislative branches over priorities and tradeoffs in the FY21 budget will soon begin in earnest. At the heart of the discussion will be on what changes need to be made to the FY21 budget request presented in February, given the current environment.

Areas like artificial intelligence already have seen increased funding support in the request, but we’ll see more focus on areas specific to robotic process automation, security analytics and data mining — due to the ways agencies have had to adapt to conduct their missions.

It’s safe to say that every federal department will ultimately receive a budget that reflects the changing times. Additionally, it’s also safe to say that the priorities reflected in the upcoming budget will be needed indefinitely — to remain vigilant against future threats.

Here are some of the primary federal players that could see the biggest changes in the makeup and composition of their FY21 budget request: Read more of this post

Beyond Cyber Hygiene

Lloyd McCoy Jr.

By Lloyd McCoy, Market Intelligence Manager

Helping agencies lock the door to keep external threat actors out of IT networks, combined with education and training, can only go so far in protecting government assets. There will always be vulnerability.

Public sector networks, with their treasure trove of sensitive information, face vigorous targeting by nation states and cyber criminals looking to steal anything they can get their hands on. Cyber-attacks remain one of the clear and present threats of our time with an intensity that shows little signs of abating.

So, how can those selling security solutions to government help mitigate threats when good cyber hygiene isn’t enough? Read more of this post

Network Optimization Is a Key Focus of DHS CISO

Lloyd McCoy Jr.

By Lloyd McCoy, Market Intelligence Manager

At a recent summit (sponsored by immixGroup), DHS CISO Paul Beckman, discussed challenges related to network optimization and outlined the steps the agency is taking to ensure both security and operational efficiency.

DHS is taking a close look at its Security Operations Center (SOC) optimization, from maturity standards to contracting. The agency is also looking for “network monetization” through the GSA’s Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract, in the form of regaining lost workforce hours through automation.

DHS has 16 “loosely federated security operation centers spread geographically throughout the entire country, with varying degrees of maturity.” Beckman’s challenge lies in how to bring them all up to the minimum baseline of security standards.

His first attempt, which focused on consolidation, “didn’t go over too well with my colleagues,” as neither cost effective nor beneficial, Beckman said. That’s when the effort shifted to optimization. Read more of this post

New Security Requirements Coming to DOD Acquisition in 2020

Lloyd McCoy Jr.Cyber security network concept. Master key connect virtual networking graphic and blur laptop with flare light effectBy Lloyd McCoy, Market Intelligence Manager

Starting next summer, anyone selling IT to the Department of Defense will need to be certified by the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) in order to compete for contracts.

The CMMC is a set of security standards that will start appearing in RFIs in June 2020 and will apply to all defense acquisitions by September. The CMMCs will represent security maturity levels and will have five levels, each with their associated security controls and processes. Level 1 will likely be like what we consider basic hygiene, with Level 5 describing the very best in security practices. The level needed will depend on the contract and will be used to determine whether a vendor makes the cut. Details on what each of the levels contain are scant right now but expect more information in the coming months as the Department collects public feedback. Read more of this post

DHS CISO Talks About Authentication, Supply Chain and Internet Regulation

By Lloyd McCoy, Market Intelligence ManagerLloyd McCoy Jr.

At a recent immixGroup vendor demo day, Paul Beckman, CISO at the Department of Homeland Security, touched on several technological challenges and frustrations that concern him – topics ranging from patching to supply chain risk to the inevitability of security regulations surrounding the internet.

“I want to get out of the patching business,” Beckman noted, asking, “why can’t I go to automatic updates?” “I don’t understand why we’re still relying on the selected pushing of patches,” he continued. A decade ago a service patch might have created the “blue screen of death” on machines, Beckman said, so that even today, “the ops side of the house is telling me, ‘what are we going to do if we get a bad patch?’”

“My response to them is that restore capability has matured greatly in the last decade. Something goes bad in the machine, push a button, you’re back to where you were at midnight last night.” Beckman added that technology has advanced to the point where the bad patch argument can be discounted and end points can go to automatic patching.
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