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Review by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has determined that several federal agencies illegally spent money during the government shutdown earlier this year. GAO warned that future violations could result in penalties including fines and jail time. The GAO’s review followed an unusual decision by the Trump administration during the record-setting shutdown, instructing agencies to continue funding a variety of functions typically suspended during a lapse in appropriations.  Read More



The Defense Department recently released a draft of the unified cybersecurity standard model which contractors must follow: the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification framework. Katie Arrington, DOD’s chief information security officer for the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, announced the CMMC framework during a panel discussion at the Intelligence and National Security Summit.  Read More



The Department of Health and Human Services plans to test Accelerate, it’s blockchain-based acquisition portal, at some point this Fall. HHS is aiming for a rollout by the beginning of the year. Accelerate is first blockchain-based program in the federal government to receive the “green light” of an authority to operate certification. Jose Arrieta of Health and Human Services, in remarks at a recent tech summit, announced that HHS has been working on developing microservices for the agency’s blockchain and artificial intelligence-infused acquisition portal.  Read More



On Aug. 9, the General Services Administration sent out a request for information for the next phase of its government wide IT acquisition contract for small business vendors or Streamlined Technology Acquisition Resource for Services (STARS). The Draft Solicitation synopsized the STARS programs as part of their Governmentwide Acquisition Contract by saying “GSA’s GWACs provide the federal government access to a wide range of information technology (IT) services-based solutions.  Read More



In 2018, federal contract spending increased for the third straight year to $559 billion, a 9% increase over 2017 spending and the highest level since 2010, when agencies spent $562 billion. Among the departments with the biggest gains in contract spending in fiscal 2018 were: Defense, Energy, Homeland Security and Transportation. Some of the top markets were weapons, professional services, aircraft parts and technology.  Read More



This past week, President Trump signed a bipartisan debt increase and new set of spending limits that would sustain spending increases for the Pentagon among other budgetary areas. The long-negotiated agreement permits the government to resume borrowing to pay its bills and sets an overall $1.37 trillion limit on agency budgets approved by Congress annually. It also ends automatic spending cuts and eliminates the prospect of an October government shutdown.  Read More



The full Senate confirmed Mark Esper, secretary of the U.S. Army, as the next secretary of the Department of Defense after the upper chamber’s Armed Services Committee approved by a voice vote his nomination Thursday. Earlier in the week, Esper faced questioning during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, (D-Mass.) who questioned Esper’s past work as former vice president for government relations at Raytheon, the company’s chief lobbyist.  Read More



Federal agencies are exploring ways to more effectively review contractors’ past performance, including harnessing bots, according to acquisition officials. CPARS past performance reports are critical to agencies, as well as to contracting companies. They document vendors’ performance on contracts previously awarded and completed, and federal agencies rely on the reports for market research for upcoming contracts. A mark below “exceptional” or “very good” on CPARS can mean the next agency passes on a vendor for its contract.  Read More



The House earlier this week voted to block the Trump administration from furloughing 150 Office of Personnel Management employees if Congress does not agree by the end of June to support a plan to merge OPM with the General Services Administration, but has since reversed course following House pushback.  Read More



The Trump administration doesn't yet have a legal analysis to justify why it believes it can merge the Office of Personnel Management with the General Services Administration. Attorneys at OPM are still developing that analysis, even as the administration had told Congress it needed a commitment to merge the two agencies by June 30 or else risk the potential for furloughs of OPM employees.  Read More



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