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

2 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

Getting Started With OTAs (Part 2 of 2)

By Troy Fortune, VP and General Manager

In my previous blog I talked about how OTAs can offer real advantages to both government agencies and suppliers. This blog provides more information about the types of OTAs and when they should be used. We also provide tips on how to assist your potential customers in the process.

There are three categories of OTAs and it’s important for you to know how and when they’re used.

  1. Research OTAs (also known as “original” or science and technology OTAs) are for basic, applied and advanced research projects. These OTs are intended to spur dual-use research and development. Companies can take advantage of economies of scale without the burden of government regulatory overhead.
  2. Prototype OTAs are authorized for acquiring prototype capabilities and allowing those prototypes to transition into Production OTAs. Both dual-use and defense-specific projects are encouraged. Successful Prototype OTAs streamline the transition into follow-on production without competition. They also reduce the possibility of a future protest.
  3. Production OTAs are authorized as noncompetitive, follow-on OTAs to a Prototype OT agreement that was competitively awarded and successfully completed. Under this statute, advanced consideration is required, and notice is to be made of the potential for a project to go into production.

Read more of this post

Getting Started With OTAs (Part 1 of 2)

By Troy Fortune, VP and General Manager

An OTA (Other Transaction Authority) can be a powerful alternative to a traditional contract vehicle. OTAs have been in use for years but they have become more popular since Congress relaxed rules and restrictions. In fact, Bloomberg reports that government spending on OTAs increased almost eight-fold from FY15-FY19, from $1B to $7.8B. This includes all OTAs, not just for information technology solutions.

OTAs can provide a rapid way to deliver solutions the government needs. This can be an especially valuable tool for government to acquire technology from companies that may offer cutting edge or emerging technologies but are not set up to do business with the government.

The speed with which OTAs can be executed is a real benefit. On its website, DOD cited  the example of how the Air Mobility Command was able to “take a requirement and turn it into a product in just 95 days, when the process might normally take more than a year to complete.”

Many of our suppliers have asked for our help in understanding how OTAs work and how to navigate the process. Here is some basic information to get you thinking about whether or not this might be something your company should pursue. Read more of this post

Technology to Aid State Contact Tracing Efforts

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

States are increasingly leveraging technology to help state and local officials trace and contain virus outbreaks – and each state seems to be taking a different approach. Everything from calls and texts to apps and online forms is being used. Patient contact tracing methods vary widely across the states — from centralized tracing by state health departments to decentralized methods that rely on calls and texts sent by individual local health departments.

What’s common is the need for case-management systems that manage interactions and follow-up activities. These systems organize information that contact tracers collect through their outreach, as well as information entered through online portals by citizens themselves.

Data collected by these case management systems can help states identify the total number of cases, hospitalizations, etc., by geography. These systems are typically robust tools that provide everything from analytical dashboards to mass communication tools. But there is so much more states can do with the data by integrating their case management systems with other state-based eligibility and aid systems, such as Medicaid management information systems or unemployment insurance systems — all while protecting sensitive patient information. Read more of this post

Two New Sales Opportunities at Commerce That Are NOT Census-Related

By Jessica Parks, Market Intelligence Analyst

Don’t let the Department of Commerce’s understandable focus on the 2020 Census distract you from other sales opportunities within the cabinet-level agency. The need for better data analytics is opening up initiatives at two of its sub-agencies, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Fundamentally, both USPTO and NOAA have requirements around the processing, management and analysis of large volumes of data. If your technology can help them meet these requirements, you will have a foot in the door for a procurement you and your competitors may otherwise have missed.   Read more of this post

Beyond Border Security: FY21 Trade-Related Opportunities at CBP

By Jessica Parks, Analyst

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), under the Department of Homeland Security, is widely known as the organization that secures our nation’s borders, but they also regulate goods entering and leaving the country through the Office of Trade (OT).

CBP receives almost 30% of the DHS IT budget, and while it’s always looking to enhance the border infrastructure, there are a few major trade-focused technology programs that have been moving forward with big plans of their own. Read on to learn what those programs are and what they’re looking for. Read more of this post

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