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 you need to know about changes at Air Force Space Command

Stephanie Meloni_65x85More big changes may beOrbital view on Earth from space coming to the Department of Defense outside of CYBERCOM’s anticipated elevation to its own Combatant Command.

Late last month, the House Armed Services Committee voted to move forward with their own version of the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which would create a new military branch—the “Space Corps.” This would create a sixth military branch that would be solely responsible for combat in space.

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How government is trying to get a more complete picture

By Mark Wisinger, senior analyst

It’s no secret there’s a vast amount of legacy systems still supporting government customers. Everyone has been talking about interoperability in government for years, but it remains a significant challenge as even more systems being used by agencies age past their initial life expectancy.

But despite the roadblocks, government agencies are working on different ways to enhance information sharing and incentivize interoperability, including using open APIs and architecture.

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One of the fastest growing IT trends at Air Force

By Stephanie Meloni, consultant

The Air Force has begun piloting agile methodology in some of its key programs, and we can expect to see this as a growing trend throughout the service and the rest of the Department of Defense, as agile methodology adoption picks up based on acquisition guidance.

The main theme of the AFCEA Montgomery IT Summit (MITS) was using agile development to help the Air Force make data-driven decisions. The service views its data as a strategic asset and leaders point to using data to facilitate decisions that will outsmart adversaries as part of the Third Offset Strategy.

The Program Executive Officer of the Business and Enterprise Systems (PEO BES) office, Rich Aldridge, kicked off the conference by speaking about the challenges that his organization faces when it comes to systems development, which has led the Air Force down the path of using agile development to counter cost, schedule and risk as a way forward.

Here are just a few key priorities the Air Force will be examining as it works to make its software systems more agile:

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Can data overload in the IC be tamed?

By Mark Wisinger, senior analyst

In an era with more sensors and data than ever before, how can intelligence agencies separate the significant data from the background noise?

Data management is an enormous challenge right now in the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community, especially as the internet of things emerges onto the scene. The big data challenges are linked hand-in-hand with cloud implementation, insider threats and cybersecurity, business intelligence and traditional IT infrastructure.

This data management challenge is an opportunity for big data vendors, with defense and intelligence agencies looking to the private sector for solutions in data access and search, data labeling and filtering and other management needs.

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DOD and IoT: 2 ways industry can help right now

Stephanie Meloni_65x85By Stephanie Meloni, consultant

If you’ve been attending industry events and keeping up with the news, you’ve surely been hearing buzz about the internet of things (IoT).

And if the DOD is part of your sales territory, you’re probably hearing how important it is to get IoT right, particularly when it comes to securing connected devices. But there hasn’t been a lot of action behind those words.

Many civilian agencies like the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Commerce have already released strategic documents and plans for IoT, but the Department of Defense has yet to release an official strategy.

Even so, government customers across DOD are giving thought as to how to handle IoT, and in some ways, are already implementing projects. So how can technology companies get involved as this trend continues to pick up steam?

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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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