Are commercial online marketplaces in the government’s future?

By Steve Charles, immixGroup co-founder

Proposed legislation out of the House Armed Services Committee would give the Department of Defense and other federal agencies the ability to buy commercial items (COTS) via online marketplaces without contracting officers having to determine price reasonableness before ordering. To make sure prices paid are competitive at the time, the marketplaces would provide all kinds of data to the government, including posted prices for similar, competitive items on the system at the time of sale. Suppliers would be able to update pricing in real-time.

DOD has long complained about GSA Schedule contracts, as well as GSA’s online marketplace, GSA Advantage, arguing that it’s not a real marketplace.  Product catalogs are not current, pricing is not maintained in real-time and many of the contractors lack strategic relationships with the manufacturers of the products represented.  Agencies put in orders on GSA Advantage, only to learn two weeks later that those ordered items are not actually available. Even people at GSA have told me that it’s much more reliable and cheaper for them to leverage the micro-purchase rules and use commercial shopping sites.

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What to watch now that we have a federal budget

By Chris Wiedemann, consultant

Last Friday, as the rain pounded the Washington, D.C. region, my colleague, Tom O’Keefe, and I huddled in a recording studio to chat with Mark Amtower on federal IT trends for his Amtower Off-Center show.

The 45-minute segment was posted here yesterday. Here are highlights of what we think the IT industry needs to know now that there’s a budget in place for the rest of the year.

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Is IT modernization on the horizon?

By Stephanie Meloni, consultant

With lawmakers voting later this week on the $1 trillion bipartisan budget deal, the battle over funding for the remainder of FY17 may be settled fairly peacefully.

If this omnibus passes, it will largely spare civilian agencies from deep cuts in funding. It also includes some interesting features technology companies will want to take note of that will impact IT budgets and priorities.

The omnibus includes no funding for the construction of a border wall but does include $1.5 billion for border security measures, which would include infrastructure and surveillance technologies. This will create opportunities around the internet of things (IoT)—collecting, integrating, securing, storing and analyzing relevant surveillance data. Getting involved early with IoT opportunities will be important as adoption picks up down the line and will give companies with solutions a chance to cite and build upon previous successes.

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5 DHS opportunities in the president’s proposed budget

Tom O'KeefeBy Tom O’Keefe, consultant

One of the few civilian agencies that likely won’t have its budget cut is the Department of Homeland Security. What’s less clear is exactly how the funding breaks down for DHS components.

The Trump administration’s plan to direct more funds to Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement by heavily reducing the budgets of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Transportation Security Administration are likely non-starters for congressional appropriators.

However, looking at the FY17 budget amendment and the FY18 budget request, we can get an idea of where some additional technology opportunities might appear at the department. The FY17 budget amendment requests $3 billion extra for DHS, with a third of that going to CBP to begin construction of the border wall. The FY18 “skinny” budget has a few more clues for where we might see increased investment at DHS:

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What you need to know about the president’s budget…for now

By Chris Wiedemann, consultant

After a tumultuous opening to his administration, President Trump delivered his first budget request late last week, which seeks to deliver on long-running Republican promises to increase military spending while cutting non-defense agencies and programs significantly.

While the presidential budget request is not a binding document, meaning it still has to pass through Congress before it can be signed into law, the request is still useful for the priorities it outlines – in many ways, it’s the first attempt to put campaign promises and rhetoric into hard policy and guidelines for the executive branch.

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Can collaboration save us from cyber attacks?

By Tim Larkins, director of Market Intelligence

By 2020, businesses will experience $3 trillion in economic loss due to cyber attacks globally. Seventy-four percent of the world’s businesses expect to be hacked this year. If that’s not a crisis, I don’t know what is.

If you were one of 45,000 people who attended the RSA conference last month in San Francisco, you likely picked up on a few common themes related to this cyber crisis. Thought leaders and industry experts seemed to agree that we need more collaboration between companies, governments and associations in developing standards, policies and regulations for both cybersecurity and the internet of things.  We need more threat intelligence sharing, and some even advocated for creating an entire government agency dedicated to cybersecurity and IoT.

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Trump has a cybersecurity plan and it needs your help

Lloyd McCoy Jr.blog-eocyberBy Lloyd McCoy Jr., DOD manager

We got a sneak peek this week into what the Trump administration is thinking about with its cybersecurity strategy and it appears there won’t be a major departure from previous administrations.

The Washington Post obtained a copy of a draft executive order on strengthening U.S. cybersecurity and capabilities that President Trump was scheduled to sign yesterday, but the event was postponed.

What I was able to glean from the draft is that it reaffirms cybersecurity as a preeminent national interest and its emergence as a new domain, comparable to air, land, sea and space. In order to protect this interest, the order endorses the “full spectrum” of capabilities to defend U.S. cyber interests, suggesting a policy that embraces both cyber-defensive and offensive toolsets.

In line with the previous two administrations, the order also emphasized protecting both public and private critical infrastructure. While none of this is a major departure, there are a couple of provisions in the draft order that impact the IT community.

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