This week's Weekly Debrief caps off the week that began on Veterans Day. To all the women and men who have bravely served in America's armed forces, thank you.
This installment covers a variety of issues in and around the DC Beltway, such as Amazon's upcoming JEDI protest (the saga continues...), FEMA's relocation plans, VA's simplified SDVOSB reverification process, TSA airport security innovation, commentary on bid protests and suspension and debarment, and more.
"Amazon said Thursday that it will protest a Pentagon decision to award Microsoft a massive cloud-computing contract worth up to $10 billion, making clear it will fight hard against what it called “unmistakable bias” and “political influence” in the Defense Department process. The protest, filed under seal in federal court on Nov. 8, comes after the Pentagon awarded the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract to Microsoft last month — a contract that had long been expected to go to Amazon because its Amazon Web Services (AWS) division has a formidable position and deep experience in cloud computing."
"The Department of Homeland Security’s vision of a unified agency, working out of a single headquarters campus in the Washington D.C. metro area, appears more out of reach than when it was first considered over a decade ago. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has walked away from plans to relocate to the St. Elizabeth’s campus in Southeast D.C. But in its place, another wave of DHS components plan to move in over the next few years. Still, the project faces considerable hurdles before coming to a close."
"A happy Veterans Day to all veterans and their families as we remember what you’ve done for our country. And there’s good reason for veteran business owners in particular to be happy. The Department of Veteran Affairs has recently made it easier to stay verified as a veteran-owned or service-disabled veteran-veteran owned small business. VA’s Center for Verification and Evaluation is the the certifying authority for SDVOSBs or VOSBs. While it can be a source of frustration, the CVE is also a source of knowledge and advice to help businesses get certified and maintain their certification. Recently, CVE has taken steps to make remaining certified easier by simplifying the reverification process. Effective November 1, CVE will now allow what it calls “Simplified Reverification” for verified SDVOSBs and VOSBs."
"The Transportation Security Administration wants a better sense of the airport security marketplace and is seeking proposals addressing problems with screening among other areas. TSA’s Innovation Task Force (ITF) issued a broad agency announcement for Innovative Demonstrations for Enterprise Advancement (IDEA) in late October. The agency intends to use its 'convening authority' to advance the development of technologies it’s interested in seeing airports deploy, said Patty Cogswell, acting deputy administrator of TSA."
"The Homeland Security Department’s signature cybersecurity program is helping agencies discover scores of devices they didn’t know existed within their IT infrastructure, according to the program’s chief. Launched in 2013, the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program offers agencies a full suite of cyber tools, dashboards and services meant to give them a bird’s-eye view of their digital ecosystem. The program, run by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, is meant to help officials better defend against cyberattacks by increasing visibility into the users, devices, systems and traffic across an agency’s network."
"Lawmakers and stakeholder groups are pushing for legislation to be enacted this year that would help families of deceased military members have more money in survivor benefits. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are pushing to end a requirement that reduces the amount of money military families receive in survivor benefits. They’re also pushing to get legislation enacted that would fix a provision of President Trump’s 2017 tax law that inadvertently raised taxes on military survivor benefits received by children."
"The number of protests filed by contractors in fiscal 2019 is significantly down. The number of vendors suspended or debarred by agencies in fiscal 2018 also dropped considerably. But what agencies and industry need to really pay attention to is the fine print in the new reports issued last week by the Government Accountability Office and the Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee, respectively. Let’s start with the suspension and debarment committee’s report. While the number of suspensions, proposed debarments and debarments dropped for a fourth straight year in fiscal 2018 — the latest data that the committee released in late October — that trend may be over by 2020."