The Insider

By Jaspreet Gill
August 19, 2019 at 4:16 PM

The Army is seeking information on computing technology for the Distributed Common Ground System.

A request for information posted this month on Federal Business Opportunities states the service wants to hear from industry "on the current state of technology for scalable computing, processing, and storage capabilities for a future intelligence ground processing station."

The notice states the service is seeking details about on "combined computing and storage equipment that provides flexibility and scalability while also reducing the size, weight, power and cooling required for a future mobile ground station system." The future ground station system is intended to reduce the footprint of the existing computer solutions.

Responses are due Sept. 28 and should include a description of the scalable computing capability, number of applicable vendor solutions, customizability of the product, development and production timelines and cost information, the notice says.

By John Liang
August 19, 2019 at 2:01 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest features a deep dive into the $116 billion "defense-wide" budget account, and more.

We start off with an in-depth look at an ongoing review of the Pentagon's multibillion-dollar "defense-wide" budget account:

New budget review draws skepticism from those who once hunted for DOD savings

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has ordered a review of a $116 billion Defense Department account outside the purview of the military services, stoking concern that officials will search for savings in civilian-led corners of the Pentagon already picked clean by previous efficiency initiatives.

Delivery of the first U.S.-built A-29 Super Tucano to Nigeria has been delayed:

First A-29 Super Tucano delivery to Nigeria pushed back to May 2021

The first delivery in the foreign military sale of 12 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft to Nigeria is not expected until May 2021, one year later than initially scheduled.

Navy Under Secretary Thomas Modly spoke to reporters during a roundtable at the Pentagon late last week:

Navy to stand up new position focused on cybersecurity and information management

The Navy is establishing a new position dedicated to cybersecurity and information management following a critical review earlier this year of the service’s cyber practices, according to a top official.

The Air Force has begun limited flights out of an air base in Niger:

Air Force begins limited flying operations at Nigerien Air Base 201, no ISR flights scheduled

This month, the Air Force began limited flight operations to support airfield assessments at Air Base 201 in Niger, where the service is building infrastructure, including a runway, to support regional counterterrorism missions.

The Navy's fiscal year 2020 budget appeal, obtained last week by Inside Defense, states that the Marine Corps' CH-53K helicopter program has suffered a multimillion-dollar cost increase:

Navy discloses $43.4 million CH-53K cost increase to House appropriators

The Navy has informed House appropriators of a recent cost increase for the Marine Corps' delayed new heavy-lift helicopter.

Here's more of our recent coverage of the Navy's appeal document:

$20M congressional cut could trigger up to $43M in fees for Columbia sub program

The Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program is at risk of incurring up to $43 million in contract cancellation fees if Congress slashes $20 million in requested funding for missile tube production.

Navy urges House appropriators to restore rescinded F-35B funds

The Navy disagrees with the House Appropriations Committee's choice to rescind fiscal year 2019 advanced procurement funding for the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, arguing the move would set back the service's timeline for standing up the Marine Corps' second squadron of F-35Cs.

House cuts could limit LUSV concept design contracts from seven to five awards

The concept design phase for a new unmanned surface vessel may be limited from seven contract awards to five if Congress maintains a proposed $20 million cut to the program in the fiscal year 2020 defense spending bill, according to an undated document newly obtained by Inside Defense.

Document: Navy's appeals to FY-20 House spending bill

By Justin Doubleday
August 19, 2019 at 1:50 PM

The Defense Department tested a ground-launched cruise missile at a range greater than 500 kilometers over the weekend, the first such test since the Trump administration formally abandoned the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces treaty due to Russia's alleged violations.

The test occurred on Sunday afternoon at San Nicolas Island, CA, and involved a "conventionally configured ground-launched cruise missile," according to a DOD statement issued today. The missile "accurately impacted its target after more than 500 kilometers of flight," DOD said.

"Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense's development of future intermediate-range capabilities," the statement continued.

The United States withdrew from the INF Treaty on Aug. 2, six months after notifying Russia of its intent to leave the accord.

The 1987 treaty bans the deployment of all land-based cruise missiles, conventional and nuclear, with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. For several years dating back to the Obama administration, U.S. officials have charged Russia with developing and deploying weapons that violate the treaty, an allegation Moscow denies.

"We cannot be the only country in the world unilaterally bound by this treaty, or any other," President Trump said in February. "We will move forward with developing our own military response options and will work with NATO and our other allies and partners to deny Russia any military advantage from its unlawful conduct."

By Tony Bertuca
August 19, 2019 at 5:05 AM

Senior defense officials are scheduled to speak in the Washington area this week. Congress remains on August recess.

Tuesday

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies hosts an invitation-only discussion with acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy.

The Association for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles International hosts an event with senior Pentagon officials, including Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord.

Wednesday

The Institute for Defense and Government Advancement hosts an event on Multi-Domain Battle Management.

Friday

The Air Force Association hosts a breakfast with Air Combat Command chief Gen. James Holmes.

By Rick Weber
August 16, 2019 at 5:09 PM

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has delayed the release of cybersecurity standards used by Defense Department contractors, pending the review by the White House's Office of Management and Budget of related standards for protecting the privacy and security of all government data.

NIST Special Publication 800-171, Revision 2, "Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Systems and Organizations," is on hold "until review cycle completion of SP 800-53 by Office of Management and Budget, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs due to dependencies on SP 800-53," according to the agency's website updated today.

NIST SP 800-171B, which was proposed in June as a "supplement" to address strategic threats from foreign adversaries, is also on hold pending the outcome of OIRA's review of NIST SP 800-53.

The comment period on SP 800-171 and 800-171B closed on Aug. 2. NIST was poised to issue 800-171 as a final document, and 800-171B as a final draft for a second round of comments, but those plans have been put on hold.

Revision 5 for NIST 800-53 was initially proposed in August 2017, and includes next-generation controls on privacy, cyber resiliency, supply chain, and trustworthy system design, according to the agency. The standards are part of a broader effort for updating federal data management practices initiated by the Obama administration in the wake of the Office of Personnel Management breach.

NIST SP 800-171 guidelines are at the core of cyber-incident reporting requirements included in contracts by DOD for the handling of controlled unclassified information.

NIST hosted a public meeting on CUI standards last fall, where the proposed revisions for SP 800-171 were discussed.

By Courtney Albon
August 16, 2019 at 3:46 PM

The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center released a request for proposals this week seeking bids for its Orbital Services Program-4, which will establish a small pool of contractors to support rapid, small launches over the next nine years.

The service expects to procure about 20 small launch missions through the contract over the life of the contract, according to an Aug. 14 press release. The contract is a follow-on to OSP-3, which awarded five missions and is set to expire in November. Proposals are due Aug. 29, and the Air Force will choose its contractor pool by the end of the year.

Launches contracted through OSP-4 will fly within 12 and 24 months from the issuance of each task order and will all be awarded competitively, the release states.

SMC spokesman Jim Spellman told Inside Defense in an Aug. 15 email the service has identified the first task order to be competed through OSP-4 -- a Space Test Program mission that will launch multiple nanosatellites. He said the contract "is intentionally designed to be flexible and responsible to warfighter requirements."

Past OSP missions have helped demonstrate industry innovation and SMC expects the contracting tool will lead to a more affordable, reliable national security space launch enterprise.

"We believe OSP-4 will be equally successful as a showcase for industry innovation and a gateway to even more affordable space launch because we are able to take more risks, more quickly to produce high rewards for the launch enterprise," Lt. Col. Lynn Rose, chief of the small launch and targets division at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM, said in the press release.  

By John Liang
August 16, 2019 at 1:48 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Marine Corps' CH-53K helicopter program, the Navy's Columbia-class submarine, the F-35B short-takeoff-and-landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter and more.

The Navy's fiscal year 2020 budget appeal, obtained this week by Inside Defense, states that the Marine Corps' CH-53K helicopter program has suffered a multimillion-dollar cost increase:

Navy discloses $43.4 million CH-53K cost increase to House appropriators

The Navy has informed House appropriators of a recent cost increase for the Marine Corps' delayed new heavy-lift helicopter.

Here's more of our recent coverage of the Navy's appeal document:

$20M congressional cut could trigger up to $43M in fees for Columbia sub program

The Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program is at risk of incurring up to $43 million in contract cancellation fees if Congress slashes $20 million in requested funding for missile tube production.

Navy urges House appropriators to restore rescinded F-35B funds

The Navy disagrees with the House Appropriations Committee's choice to rescind fiscal year 2019 advanced procurement funding for the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, arguing the move would set back the service's timeline for standing up the Marine Corps' second squadron of F-35Cs.

House cuts could limit LUSV concept design contracts from seven to five awards

The concept design phase for a new unmanned surface vessel may be limited from seven contract awards to five if Congress maintains a proposed $20 million cut to the program in the fiscal year 2020 defense spending bill, according to an undated document newly obtained by Inside Defense.

Document: Navy's appeals to FY-20 House spending bill

A new GAO report states the Army "is experiencing staffing, equipping, and training challenges" as it moves quickly to activate new cyber units:

GAO: Army's new cyber units struggling to gain footing

The Army may be getting ahead of itself in creating new cyber and electronic warfare units for multidomain operations without properly assessing risk, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

Document: GAO report on Army cyber

Textron Systems is slated to soon put the first Ship-to-Shore Connector off the manufacturing line -- built for test and trials -- through its paces with a load that simulates the weight of an M1 Abrams tank:

Final phase of Ship-to-Shore Connector builder's trials set for next week

The lead craft in the Navy's Ship-to-Shore Connector program -- a $5.4 billion project to modernize the fleet of combat hovercraft used to move Marine Corps ground vehicles, cargo and personnel from sea to land -- is readying to execute next week the final stage of builder's trials, a prelude to follow-on government acceptance trials and then delivery this fall.

Last but certainly not least, we have some news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

Huawei disputes U.S. claims in arguing unconstitutionality of NDAA ban of its products

Lawyers for Huawei are disputing claims by the U.S. government to argue that a ban on its products under the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act violates the Constitution, in a case that sets up a legal showdown over issues with broader implications for addressing cybersecurity threats from China.

By Marjorie Censer
August 16, 2019 at 1:20 PM

In the latest move in the fight over LOGCAP V, AECOM has successfully sought the Government Accountability Office's insight into the program.

AECOM, which was not one of the awardees of the program, had asked the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to seek out the decision GAO would have issued on LOGCAP V. GAO denied DynCorp's protest, but dismissed those of AECOM and other competitors after DynCorp took the matter to federal court.

In a decision filed this week, the court granted AECOM's motion to get an "advisory opinion" from GAO on the "merits of AECOM's protest."

The court says it "would like a copy of the decision GAO would have issued had it not dismissed AECOM's protest two days prior to the decision deadline."

"The Court would also like a copy of the decision as soon as GAO can produce it to facilitate briefing the parties," the court order reads.

Ralph White of GAO told Inside Defense that "on occasion, federal judges have asked us for advisory opinions."

"We've accommodated them when possible," he added.

By Ashley Tressel
August 16, 2019 at 10:53 AM

The Missile Defense Agency has issued a request for information for advanced development of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system currently performed by Lockheed Martin.

"The MDA THAAD Project Office is conducting market research to determine industry interest and capability to provide development, support flight and ground test programs, and provide responsive support to requirements identified by the warfighter for the fielded THAAD weapon system," according to a notice posted to Federal Business Opportunities this week.

"The expected period of performance is 2021-2026 and includes, but is not limited to: program management; systems engineering; system test and evaluation; quality, safety, and mission assurance," the notice states.

By Justin Doubleday
August 15, 2019 at 3:26 PM

The Defense Department is delaying a pair of public meetings on technical data rights issues from September to November, according to a document scheduled to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow.

Meetings originally scheduled for Sept. 6 and Sept. 16 will now be held Nov. 15 and Nov. 21, according to the notice. The Nov. 15 event will take place at the Pentagon Library and Conference Center, while the Nov. 21 meeting will be at the Mark Center Auditorium in Alexandria, VA.

The meetings are being convened to discuss two amendments to the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation. One amendment, "Validation of Proprietary and Technical Data," implements Section 865 of the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, according to the notice.

The second DFARS amendment, "Negotiation of Price for Technical Data and Preference for Specially Negotiated Licenses," implements both Section 835 of the FY-18 NDAA and Section 867 of the FY-19 NDAA, according to the notice.

After the first two events, DOD plans to host additional meetings to discuss further statutory changes related to technical data rights, according to the notice. In addition to statutory changes spurred by multiple laws, the notice previews how the Pentagon is also considering recommendations finalized by the congressionally mandated "Section 813" panel earlier this year.

By Marjorie Censer
August 15, 2019 at 3:12 PM

Perspecta said this week it is winning new work in the burgeoning market it calls "trusted workforce," which includes background investigations, continuous monitoring, insider threat and supply chain security work.

In a call with analysts Wednesday evening, Mac Curtis, the company's chief executive, said Perspecta recorded $42 million in bookings in its most recent quarter on its Office of Personnel Management and National Background Investigations Bureau contract.

The company, he said, also won a $100 million other transaction agreement to modernize the IT systems that support background checks and insider threat programs.

Meanwhile, Curtis said Perspecta is also seeing movement in the Navy's Next Generation Enterprise Network contract recompetition.

"As part of the procurement process, bidders on the Service Management, Integration and Transport -- or SMIT -- have received evaluation notices," Curtis said. "Also, the Navy has indicated that they want to extend our current contract on a sole-source basis."

"NGEN-R is a very complex procurement," he added. "The underlying work is complex, and it's made even more difficult by splitting the work into the end-user hardware and SMIT components. We believe that complexity strengthens our incumbency advantage."

Perspecta reported that sales in its most recent quarter reached $1.1 billion, up 40% from the same three-month period a year earlier. The company's quarterly profit was $31 million, up 7% from the prior year.

The sales growth was a result of the merger that created the company, which was completed at the end of May 2018. Perspecta attributed the profit growth to "new business wins and growth on existing programs" in its defense and intelligence segment.

By John Liang
August 15, 2019 at 2:16 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has continuing coverage of a Navy appeal of the House's FY-20 defense spending bill, plus news on the Ship-to-Shore Connector program and more.

Inside Defense obtained a document which has a line-by-line Navy appeal of the House's FY-20 defense spending bill. Here's our coverage so far:

$20M congressional cut could trigger up to $43M in fees for Columbia sub program

The Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program is at risk of incurring up to $43 million in contract cancellation fees if Congress slashes $20 million in requested funding for missile tube production.

Navy urges House appropriators to restore rescinded F-35B funds

The Navy disagrees with the House Appropriations Committee's choice to rescind fiscal year 2019 advanced procurement funding for the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, arguing the move would set back the service's timeline for standing up the Marine Corps' second squadron of F-35Cs.

House cuts could limit LUSV concept design contracts from seven to five awards

The concept design phase for a new unmanned surface vessel may be limited from seven contract awards to five if Congress maintains a proposed $20 million cut to the program in the fiscal year 2020 defense spending bill, according to an undated document newly obtained by Inside Defense.

Document: Navy's appeals to FY-20 House spending bill

Textron Systems is slated to soon put the first Ship-to-Shore Connector off the manufacturing line -- built for test and trials -- through its paces with a load that simulates the weight of an M1 Abrams tank:

Final phase of Ship-to-Shore Connector builder's trials set for next week

The lead craft in the Navy's multibillion-dollar Ship-to-Shore Connector program is readying to execute next week the final stage of builder's trials, a prelude to follow-on government acceptance trials and then delivery this fall.

A new GAO report states the Army "is experiencing staffing, equipping, and training challenges" as it moves quickly to activate new cyber units:

GAO: Army's new cyber units struggling to gain footing

The Army may be getting ahead of itself in creating new cyber and electronic warfare units for multidomain operations without properly assessing risk, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

Document: GAO report on Army cyber

In related cyber news, our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity recently chatted with a senior DARPA official about artificial intelligence:

DARPA official: AI needs to be more 'introspective' to aid cybersecurity

Artificial intelligence could more reliably be used for cybersecurity applications if the machines were better able to explain themselves, according to a representative for a key government agency funding research and development for emerging technology.

By Tony Bertuca
August 15, 2019 at 1:30 PM

The Defense Department made $965 million in improper travel payments between fiscal years 2016 and 2018 and should do more to strengthen its actions to reduce such payments, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

DOD spent more than $18 billion on travel payments between FY-16 and FY-18, averaging $322 million in improper payments annually, GAO said.

However, not all improper travel payments resulted in a monetary loss to the government. Some payments were later discovered to be legitimate, but initially lacked supporting documentation, according to GAO.

DOD estimates that FY-17 and FY-18 resulted in a total monetary loss of $205 million out of $549 million in improper payments.

DOD in October 2016 established a remediation plan to reduce improper travel payments and set up a committee to monitor implementation of the plan at 10 department components.

"However, DOD did not take into account the components' own estimates of their improper payment rates," the report states. "As of March 2019, only 4 of the 9 components that responded to GAO's survey had completed all of the plan's requirements, in part because of a lack of milestones in the plan and ineffective monitoring for required actions. As result, DOD does not have reasonable assurance that its actions have been sufficient."

GAO also found that DOD has failed to clearly identify the root causes of the payment errors, in part because "there is no common understanding of what constitutes the root cause of improper travel payments."

The department, according to GAO, has also not included considerations of cost-effectiveness into its decisions about whether it should take actions that could reduce improper payments.

"Without addressing these issues, DOD will likely miss opportunities to implement the changes necessary to address the root causes of improper travel payments," GAO said.

The report includes five recommendations to tighten DOD's oversight of improper travel payments, including that "the department consider data on improper payment rates in its remediation approach; define the term 'root cause,' and consider cost effectiveness in deciding how to address improper payments," GAO states.

DOD concurred with four recommendations, but did not concur with revising its approach for selecting components to implement its remediation plan, stating it has already taken actions that address the issue.

Still, "GAO believes the recommendation remains valid," the report states.

By Marjorie Censer
August 15, 2019 at 10:14 AM

In a filing today, United Technologies said UTC and Raytheon have each received "a request for additional information and documentary material, often referred to as a 'second request,' from the [Justice Department's] Antitrust Division" in connection with its planned deal.

In the new document, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said the request was received July 22.

"Completion of the merger is further subject to the receipt of other required regulatory approvals or clearances under the competition laws of the European Union, Australia, Canada, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Israel, Japan, Republic of Korea, Taiwan and Turkey, and under the foreign investment laws of Australia, France and Germany," UTC adds in the document. "There can be no assurance that a challenge to the merger on antitrust or other regulatory grounds will not be made or, if such a challenge is made, that it would not be successful."

By Marjorie Censer
August 15, 2019 at 10:03 AM

CACI International said this week sales in its most recent quarter reached $1.4 billion, up 17% from the same three-month period a year earlier.

The company's quarterly profit hit $50 million, down almost 4% from the prior year.

CACI reported full-year sales were just shy of $5 billion, up almost 12% from the company's fiscal year 2018, while full-year profit totaled $266 million, down 12% from a year earlier.

CACI attributed its increased revenue to "acquired revenue, new business wins, and on-contract growth."

"The decrease in net income was due to the impact of the passage of tax reform legislation in FY-18," CACI said.

In a call with analysts today, John Mengucci, who took over as chief executive on July 1, said CACI remains focused on acquisitions.

"We're always involved in [mergers and acquisitions]," he said. "We're always looking for those long-term strategic targets."