GAO: Military provisions could be reducing competition for Defense contracts

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  • The Defense Department may not be getting enough competition for a popular form of contracting. DoD spends 40 percent of its procurement budget through indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity or IDIQ type contracts and 75 percent of those competitions were open to a single contractor instead of multiple contractors. The Government Accountability Office said that between 2015 and 2017 the military included provisions that while not explicitly limiting competition, may have the potential, under certain circumstances, to reduce the number of contractors who are eligible to compete for the orders. GAO said the reasons vary including task orders set-aside for small businesses. (Government Accountability Office)
  • The White House is setting up a Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence. The new committee aims to build greater public-private collaboration in AI research. It’ll be chaired by the White House’s National Science and Technology Council, and the directors of National Science Foundation and DARPA. The White House said federal investment in unclassified AI has grown by more than 40 percent since 2015. (Federal News Radio)
  • A bipartisan coalition of senators and representatives want to establish a National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence. They introduced a bill to do so. It will provide recommendations on building the AI industry and consist of 15 congressionally appointed members. The Pentagon is already in the process of setting up an AI center of excellence. (Sen. Jodi Ernst)
  • The House Armed Services Committee passed the 2019 defense authorization bill by a vote of 60 to 1. The bill authorizes a budget of $716 billion. The Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to mark up its version of the bill later this month. (House Armed Services Committee)
  • Congress is looking shrink the missions of the Defense Information Systems Agency. The Defense authorization bill the House Armed Services Committee sent to the House floor this week would remove DISA’s responsibilities to handle IT contracting on behalf of the Defense Department. The bill would order the Pentagon to reassign those functions to some other part of DoD between now and 2021. The same legislation would reduce DISA’s role in defending military networks. It would reassign the jobs currently handled by the Joint Force Headquarters-DoD Information Network to U.S. Cyber Command. (Federal News Radio)
  • Two members of Congress want all victims of the Office of Personnel Management’s cyber breaches to receive identity protection services for life. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) re-introduced the RECOVER Act. Current and former federal employees, contractors and others impacted by the breaches already have access to identity theft and protection services. But those services currently expire in 2026. Ruppersberger and Norton said they wanted to reintroduce the legislation to commemorate Public Service Recognition Week. (Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton)
  • Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) is acting on the White House’s suggestion to cut spending by $15 billion. He introduced the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act. It eliminates funds for unused spending, like loans for advanced technology vehicles, Ebola Response, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. (Rep. Tom Graves)
  • A new bill would help small manufacturers comply with cybersecurity requirements from the Defense Department’s supply chain initiative. The House version is sponsored by Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.). It would use the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnerships to consult with small defense subcontractors struggling with or unaware of the rules for protecting their computers. Panetta said even small parts and device suppliers hold intellectual property that if lost, could affect national security. A Senate version has bipartisan support. (Rep. Jimmy Panetta)
  • Two Democratic senators want more transparency from Health and Human Service’s inspector general. Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) called on HHS’ OIG to inform the public when companies have been charged with violating federal law. The Government Accountability Office found HHS’ OIG does not publicly disclose when its put health care providers on probation for instances of waste, fraud or abuse. (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee)