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2020 Census Needs Investment in Enabling Technology and Infrastructure Requirements

Preparations for the 2020 Decennial Census are a key factor shaping the Census Bureau’s budget. Plans for the 2020 Census aim to drive cost efficiencies by leveraging lessons learned and improving census procedures. FY2015 marked the launch of the second phase of R&D for the effort, which aims to overhaul the census process and achieve dramatic cost savings through technology implementation and process updates. A recent review of the Census Bureau’s plans highlights technology hurdles that may provide business opportunities for contractors. 

The Census Bureau approach to the 2020 Census intends to complete the survey for the same or less cost than 2010. So far, the efforts have encountered a number of planning hurdles, in particular challenges producing reliable schedules and cost inaccuracies. Insufficiently resolved issues underlying these problems will continues to be plague progress as work moves along with the second phase of research, testing, and operational development. The bureau’s FY 2016 discretionary budget request included $1.5 billion to support research, development, and implementation of the 2020 Census. The bureau’s information technology budget has $199 million slated for undertakings at this phase, an increase of 169% over FY 2015 enacted levels. Further, all of the FY 2016 funds are expected to support development, modification, and enhancement activities. All in all, just over 91% of the FY 2016 investment is potentially contractor addressable (based on the portion of resources that provides associated government personnel). 

Among other activities, these funds are intended to help roll out an internet response option for collecting enumeration data. In order to provide an option for collecting self-responses from households via the internet, the Census Bureau needs to make a number of investments. These enabling capabilities include designing and developing an application for internet response, developing and acquiring IT infrastructure to support the large volume of data processing and storage, and planning communication and outreach strategies to facilitate households’ submission of responses via the internet. Preliminary cost estimates for the internet response were calculated at $73 million, but these figures were deemed unreliable for not conforming to best practices. Issues included not updating the estimates to reflect changes related to the option that occurred since 2011. Another snag is the lack of time frames for decisions around implementation of cloud computing solutions. As a result of these problems, additional concerns are being raised about the estimated cost savings that is expected to result from these efforts. With field tests for various components anticipated during the fall of 2015, addressing these underlying complications will be necessary in order for the program to continue on schedule.

Originally published for Federal Industry Analysis: Analysts Perspectives Blog. Stay ahead of the competition by discovering more about GovWinIQ. Follow me on twitter @FIAGovWin.

 

GovWin Recon - March 27, 2015

GovWin Recon, produced by Deltek's Federal Industry Analysis (FIA) team, is designed to support awareness and understanding of the issues impacting the government and the contractors that serve it. Recon highlights key developments surrounding government technology, policy, budget and vendor activities.

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GovWin Recon - March 26, 2015

GovWin Recon, produced by Deltek's Federal Industry Analysis (FIA) team, is designed to support awareness and understanding of the issues impacting the government and the contractors that serve it. Recon highlights key developments surrounding government technology, policy, budget and vendor activities.

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Social Security Administration FY 2016 Discretionary and IT Budget Request Snapshot

Last month the White House released its fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget request and most federal departments and agencies saw notable increases in their overall discretionary and information technology (IT) budget submissions. The Social Security Administration is included in this category.

Total Discretionary Funding

The FY 2016 federal budget provides the Social Security Administration (SSA) with $12.7B in discretionary funds for FY 2016, $732M (+6.1%) above the 2015 enacted level. The FY 2016 SSA budget proposes to repeal the discretionary cap adjustments for SSA – enacted in Gramm-Rudman and amended by the Budget Control Act (BCA) – and instead shift SSA funding to mandatory funding beginning in FY 2017. (This follows an observable trend in the federal budget over the last 5+ years of shifting some discretionary spending to mandatory spending.)

Discretionary funding highlights include:

  • $101M in new budget authority to support extramural research projects to continue to test changes to the disability programs to improve program administration and reduce program dependency. Projects cover areas of disability policy research, employment support programs, retirement policy research, financial literacy and education, and evaluations of proposed or newly enacted legislation.
  • $50M for early intervention demonstrations in FY 2016, as well as a $350 million legislative proposal for mandatory funding in FYs 2017-2020 for strategies to help people with disabilities to remain in the workforce.

Social Security Administration Total IT and New Development Budgets

SSA seeks $1.7B (+6.7%) for FY 2016 IT spending, rebounding somewhat from the $271M (-15%) reduction in the FY 2015 enacted budget compared to FY 2014. Similarly, SSA is seeking to shift a slightly larger portion of their IT budget in FY 2016 to Development/Modernization/Enhancement (DME) efforts over steady state (SS) or operations and maintenance (O&M) funding categories, a bit of a reversal in course over the last few years. SSA’s $705M of total DME funds increases $118M from FY 2015 and accounts for about 42% of the total FY 2016 IT budget, compared with 38% and 37% in FY 2014 and FY 2015 respectively. (See table below.)



Noteworthy IT Programs

Looking at the specifics of SSA’s IT investments and initiatives provides insight into the agency’s immediate priorities and future direction. Here are some initiatives that stand out among others due to relative size, budget growth, and/or proportion of new development spending.

IT funding highlights include:

  • Non-Major Infrastructure DME – The second largest IT budget line at SSA, this initiative focuses on infrastructure DME costs for data center, office automation and telecommunications efforts. Of the $278.4M allocated for this investment, 275.5M (99%) is DME.
  • Non-Major IT Security Initiatives — This initiative implements security policies and controls within SSA IT and protects IT data resources from both internal and external user threats such as unauthorized access, misuse, damage, or loss. At $68.5M for FY 2016, the initiative is third among SSA’s largest IT budget lines and sees one of the largest overall budget increases of $15.2M (+28.6%). DME funding is set at $42.7M, or 62%.
  • Disability Case Processing System (DCPS) – DCPS replaces the 54 disparate DDS systems, support and maintenance processes with a common case-processing system to deliver common functionality and consistent support to each DDS. DCPS receives $55.0M in DME funds, which accounts for 92% of the total $60M budget, which ranks is fourth in size among SSA IT investments.
  • Intelligent Disability – This eighth-largest SSA IT budget line focuses on three main IT efforts: provide linkage between Electronic Disability Folder and SSA modernized systems and strategic goals, assist in reducing hearing office backlogs, and improve speed and quality of the disability process. The program receives $34.8M for FY 2016, up $6.6M (+23%) from FY 2015. DME is set at $29.1M or 84%.
  • Earnings Redesign – This initiative intends to streamline and modernize the current systems in order to ensure that records of earnings are timely and accurate. At $31.6M, this initiative receives one of the largest total budget and DME increases for FY 2016, $10.6M (+51%) and $10.1M (+58%) respectively.

After seeing the total discretionary and IT budgets drop from FY 2014 to FY 2015, SSA’s IT budget for FY 2016 has regained ground to FY 2014 levels, faster than overall discretionary spending. Further, SSA’s DME spending is rebounding faster than SSA’s total IT budget, signifying focused investment in high priority capabilities and systems that could present additional contracting opportunities.

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Originally published for Federal Industry Analysis: Analysts Perspectives Blog. Stay ahead of the competition by discovering more about 
GovWin FIA. Follow me on Twitter @GovWinSlye.

GovWin Recon – March 25, 2015


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Getting agile -- with acquisition and development alike

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FY 2016 Budget Analysis Points to Increase in Contractor-Addressable Federal Spending

Deltek's new report, FY 2016 Federal Budget Request:  Challenges and Opportunities, indicates growth in federal contractor-addressable spending from $638 billion in FY 2015 to $660 billion in FY 2016.  

The FY 2016 $1.2 trillion discretionary budget request provides new, higher discretionary caps designed to replace sequestration limits set in the Budget Control Act. If passed as-is this budget proposal would offer some reversal of previous spending restrictions and infuse additional funds for both defense and civilian agencies.  As a result, the budget reflects FY 2015-2016 increases for nearly every major agency.

The budget request reintroduces the administration’s strategic priorities which include infrastructure, national defense, education, research and development, homeland security, public health (including veteran care), cybersecurity and cross-government customer services.

The largest projected increase is seen in the area of equipment with a planned increase of 24% from FY 2015 to FY 2016, from $32B to $49B for contractor-addressable spending.  The equipment category encompasses purchases of durable assets that normally may be expected to have a period of service of a year or more after being put into use such as transportation equipment; machinery; construction equipment; furniture and fixtures; tools and implements, instruments and apparatus; and information technology hardware.  This category excludes aerospace and defense equipment.

The aerospace and defense (A&D) market segment is expected to grow 5.8% over FY 2015 to $137B in contractor-addressable spending in FY 2016.  The A&D segment includes full-scale development, production, and modifications of durable assets related to the aerospace and defense industries.  The slight growth of A&D forecast for FY 2016 in the Navy and Air Force reflects a shift in U.S. defense strategy away from U.S. ground forces and toward naval and air power.  Growth among civilian agencies is highest at Homeland Security/CBP, Justice/FBI, Commerce/NOAA, and NASA.

Deltek’s analysis shows a nearly 3% increase from FY 2015 to FY 2016 in the contractor addressable portion of the federal information technology budget, growing from $101B to $104B.  The IT budget shows a continued shift of dollars from Development, Modernization, and Enhancement (DME) to Operations & Maintenance (O&M).  The budget also proposes $450M for initiatives such as Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) goals (e.g. shared services, strategic sourcing), funding for U.S. Digital Service teams at 25 agencies, and PortfolioStat.  It also includes $14B for cybersecurity, including Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) and CyberStat program expansion. 

Although intact passage of the FY 2016 budget request is unlikely, it gives a glimpse at administrative and agency priorities which will remain in place even if requested funding levels are not attained during the appropriations process.  Click here for more information on Deltek’s FY 2016 Federal Budget Request:  Challenges and Opportunities report.

 

GovWin Recon - March 24, 2015

GovWin Recon, produced by Deltek's Federal Industry Analysis (FIA) team, is designed to support awareness and understanding of the issues impacting the government and the contractors that serve it. Recon highlights key developments surrounding government technology, policy, budget and vendor activities.

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DISA FY 2016 IT Budget Snapshot

Last week’s post took a look at Defense Working Capital Fund dollars that the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) anticipates Defense customers will spend with it in Fiscal Year 2016. This week’s post examines the formal portions of the information technology budget that DISA anticipates it will have in FY 2016, including funding it has requested for operations and maintenance, procurement, and research, development, modernization, and enhancement. The programs on which DISA forecasts spending the most under each category in FY 2016 will also be examined.

For its total IT budget in FY 2016, DISA has requested $3 billion.  This funding breaks out as follows:

Not surprisingly, the highest number of forecast dollars can be found in DISA’s Revolving and Management Funds account.  This account is where Defense Working Capital Fund spending is located, which is why it was the focus of last week’s post.  This week’s focus is on spending in the other three categories, beginning with operations and maintenance.

Breaking down O&M, we can see that not all of the programs receiving O&M funding are “programs,” per se. The White House Communications Agency (WHCA), for example, is part of the DISA organization.  The Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) is where much work related to Joint Information Environment is taking place, primarily, but not exclusively, under the GIG Services Management –Operations (GSM-O) and GIG Services Management – Engineering, Transition, and Implementation (GSM-ETI) contracts.  Spending on DoD mobility programs comes in at the far right of the spectrum, with $23 million in spending anticipated.

Moving to procurement, we see that new dollars for tech refreshment and other acquisitions are going into the DISN, SATCOM, and other transport-network related programs.  DISN investments focus primarily on the procurement of network switching (MPLS) and optical network equipment related to engineering the JIE.

DISA anticipates spending $0 on DoD mobility procurement in FY 2016.

This brings us to RDT&E funding, of which DISA has requested very little. There are no surprises here. The Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) receives most of the funding in this category. Some funding here goes to the DoD Mobility program for “tech insertion and the deployment of two Device Mobile Classified Capability (DMCC) gateways OCONUS which will include Top Secret (TS) and Secret capabilities in the Pacific and Southwest Asia.” Funding for the DISN will focus on the purchasing and testing of “optical and IP routers, switches, and Communications Security equipment” related to the upgrading of DISA’s optical network.

In conclusion, this snapshot of the FY 2016 DISA budget shows that engineering the DISN to provide the backbone for the Joint Information Environment will remain DISA’s highest priority in FY 2016, with funding spread out in all categories of IT spending – O&M, Procurement, and RDT&E.  DISA’s FY 2016 spending will remain heavy on communications and network equipment, with DISA personnel and service contractors already in place providing the support required to install and configure the equipment for the agency.

 

GovWin Recon - March 23, 2015

GovWin Recon, produced by Deltek's Federal Industry Analysis (FIA) team, is designed to support awareness and understanding of the issues impacting the government and the contractors that serve it. Recon highlights key developments surrounding government technology, policy, budget and vendor activities.

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Obama’s proposed budget will benefit high-dollar transit projects

President Obama recently released his proposed budget for transportation infrastructure upgrades. The six-year, $478 billion infrastructure plan would provide funding for public works projects across the country. If the budget passes, it will increase funding for transit by 75 percent as well as create numerous construction jobs.
 
About half of the proposed budget will be funded by a new one-time tax imposed on American companies that have earnings overseas. The government estimates $238 billion would be raised from this tax – about half the proposed budget. The rest of the budget would be funded by federal tax on gasoline and other revenue sources. While there is bi-partisan agreement for transportation upgrades across the country, the proposed tax may face opposition in the Republican-led Congress.
 
Architecture, engineering, and construction companies would greatly benefit from the increase in projects should this tax go through, as $5 billion per year is set aside for fixing aging bridges and roads. The biggest boost in funding was seen in transit, with $123 billion over six years. This funding will benefit state and local entities looking to update rail, subway, and other transit elements.
 
For example, the state of California was allocated $1 billion in the proposed budget for transportation and construction projects; $800 million will be set aside for transit projects. This will greatly benefit transit projects in progress throughout the state, including Los Angeles’ Purple Line, expanding the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, and San Diego’s light rail project.
 
The boost in funding for transportation and construction will provide ample opportunities for companies to bid on high-dollar projects. Once entities are granted federal funding, vendors should keep an eye on these projects that will likely result in multi-year contracts. Also, most of these projects have multiple components and agencies may release solicitations in phases, resulting in more opportunities to bid and win contracts.
 
You can learn more about current procurement opportunities in the GovWin IQ State and Local Opportunities database. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial.

 

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