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Energy Department Continues Collaborative Supercomputing Investment

 

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) provide high-performance computing facilities that enable world-class scientific research. Mid April 2015, DOE extended its exascale supercomputer development program under its Collaboration of Oak Ridge, Argonne, and Lawrence Livermore (CORAL) initiative with a third and final contract. 

The $525 million CORAL project was established in early 2014 with the goal of improving supercomputing investments, streamlining procurement, and reducing development costs for high performance systems that will be five to seven times more powerful than today’s top supercomputers. Through collaborating across the department’s labs on the effort, DOE aims to help the nation accelerate to next-generation exascale computing. The three CORAL labs specified requirements in a single Request for Proposal (RFP) released in January 2014. The recent $200 million award will deliver Aurora system to the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, completing the final supercomputer investment of the CORAL initiative. DOE earlier announced a $325 million investment to build state-of-the-art supercomputers at its Oak Ridge and Lawrence Livermore laboratories.

The entire scientific community will have access to the system once it is commissioned in 2018. Key research goals for the Aurora system include: material science, biological science, transportation efficiency, and renewable energy. The next-generation system, Aurora, will use a high-performance computing scalable system framework to provide a peak performance of 180 PetaFLOP/s.  The Aurora system will be delivered in 2018. In the interim, Argonne and Intel will also provide the Theta system, to be delivered in 2016, which will help ALCF users transition their applications to the new technology.

Additionally, DOE Under Secretary Orr announced $10 million for a high-performance computing R&D program, DesignForward, led by DOE’s Office of Science and NNSA to accelerate the development of next-generation supercomputers. The recent announcement complements the $25.4 million already invested in the first round of program. Through this public-private partnership, technology firms will work with DOE researchers to study and develop software and hardware technologies aimed at maintaining a national lead in scientific computing.

 

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

 

Half-way Through FY 2015, How Much Are Agencies Spending on Contracts?

It’s April, and that means we are half way through fiscal year (FY) 2015. So I thought I would take a look at the available federal contracting data to see what can we tell so far about how much federal departments have spent on contracts at the mid-point in the year and see what might be in store for us in the second half of FY 2015.

For comparison and context I looked the federal contract obligations reported for each federal agency for FY 2014, quarter by quarter, and then the first two fiscal quarters of FY 2015, which just closed at the end of March. Then, to get what I thought would be a conservative approach to estimating what spending might look like for the remainder of FY 2015 I took 90% of each agency’s total FY 2014 contract spending and subtracted out what agencies have already reported for actual Q1 and Q2 contract spending. In other words, my assumption is that agencies would spend at least 90% of what they did last year. Finally, based on this 90% spending assumption I calculated each agency’s FY 2015 Q1 and Q2 relative percentages of total (90%) estimated obligations.

Contract Obligations Compared

Historically, the twenty top-spending departments accounted for about 98% of all federal contract obligations, so I focused my attention on these departments. In FY 2014, these accounted for $85.9B and $105.2B in total contract obligations for Q1 and Q2 respectively. For comparison, these departments reported $104.7B and $141.7B in contract obligations for Q3 and Q4 respectively for FY 2014. (See table below.)

In FY 2015, these top twenty have reported $89.3B and $34.1B for Q1 and Q2 respectively, although DoD lags in their financial reporting by up to 90 days so Q2 is understated. Still, if these top agencies spend 90% of what they did in all of FY 2014 they will have more than $270B left to obligate in the remaining two quarters of this fiscal year.


Observations

  • A handful of departments have Q1 FY 2015 obligations lower than they did in Q1 of FY 2014 (DoD, USAF, State, DoT, Ed, and Labor). Most have marginally higher obligations year-over-year, although Navy reported over $6B (+40%) more in obligations in Q1 in FY 2015 than last year.
  • More departments appear to be lagging in Q2 FY 2015 compared to Q2 of last year and some of these are fairly large relative proportions. For example, HHS shows a $1B (-24%) decrease in Q2. Similarly, VA has reported a $1.1B (-30%) decrease. Finally, State, GSA, and DOT each have reported about a 50% drop in Q2 FY 2015 obligations from Q2 FY 2014. Of course, given the DoD’s three-month reporting delay we will not know the contracting rates among those departments until this summer.
  • Taken together, the four defense branches in Q1 FY 2015 have reported $3B more in obligations than they reported in Q1 of FY 2014, although the DoD and Air Force have reported lower levels year-over-year.  

A graphical representation of the relative proportions of each department’s contract spending gives a sense of seasonality and/or changes from year to year. Due to the sheer number of departments I have split these into Defense and Civilian segments. This further highlights the yearly changes for Navy, HHS, VA, State, GSA, and DOT. (See charts below.)


 


 

This kind of macro-level analysis is useful in getting a general sense of quarterly and yearly patterns across the departments. Of course, the remaining FY 2015 obligation estimation depends on its main 90% assumption. Last year, this approach pointed to roughly $285B in combined FY 2014 Q3 and Q4 obligations among the top twenty departments. A year later, the final FY 2014 Q3 and Q4 data shows that actual obligations came in at $246.4B, so at first glance it appears that my 90% assumption was a bit optimistic. However, the difference turns out to be a matter of timing rather than magnitude. The final FY 2014 Q1 and Q2 obligations given above come in at $69B higher than what agencies reported at this time last year, reflecting revisions due to lagging obligation data being added later in the year. So the numbers effectively washed out once the dust settled. Unfortunately, there is no reliable way of predicting how consistently agencies will report their contract spending from year to year.

As most federal business development people will attest, understanding your agency’s spending patterns goes a long way to being able to successfully work with them to get contracts awarded as well as develop your yearly business plan. 

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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.

 

FY 2016 Budget Request – Information Technology Highlights

Information Technology (IT) budgets are UP for fiscal year (FY) 2016 nearly across the board for major federal departments. The Obama Administration released its FY 2016 Budget request Monday morning, and around 6 p.m. the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) posted details on the Information Technology budget proposal, revealing a return to year-over-year budget increases for both the Defense and Civilian top-line numbers and net increases for most Executive Branch departments and agencies.

In a previous entry we looked at the overall FY 2016 discretionary budget highlights across the top agencies. Here, we will focus on IT.

According to the IT budget request for FY 2016, the overall IT budget for Executive Branch departments and agencies comes in at $86.3B, up 2.3% from the FY 2015 enacted level and 5.5% higher than the $81.7B spent in FY 2014. However, factoring out grants to state and local governments, the total IT budget for FY 2016 comes in at just over $79B, an increase of 4% from FY 2015, which was effectively flat from FY 2014. (See table below.)


 

AGENCY HIGHLIGHTS

In addition to the many budget increases for the next fiscal year, many agencies are also allocating greater funds to Development, Modernization, Enhancement (DME) efforts over Operations and Maintenance (O&M). These and other funding observations are included in the following agency highlights.

Department of Defense

The DoD is allocated a total of $37.3B in IT funds for FY 2016, a 3% increase over the FY 2015 enacted level of $36.3B. The total funds are split between classified and non-classified areas, $6.6B and $30.7B respectively. If enacted, this would mean a 2% increase in classified DOD IT and a 9% increase in non-classified DOD IT.

OMB released only top-line IT budget numbers for DoD and promised detailed updates in early March. This is fairly common practice each budget cycle, but shrouds DoD IT spending longer than any other department. Until then, we pursued what IT-related spending information could be gleaned from other DoD budget documentation.


Air Force

  • $1.8B in Procurement funds for Electronics and Telecom Equipment, an increase of more than $400M (30%) over FY 2015
  • $2.6B in Space Procurement funding, which budget materials note that FY 2016 marks the first year that such procurement are broken out.
  • $2.4B in Science and Technology RDT&E funds, an increase of $96M from FY 2015
  • $287M in Procurement funds for the Strategic Command And Control program, up from $140M (+105%) in FY 2015
  • $103.7M for AFNET, up 15% from the $90.5M level in FY 2015
  • $31.4M in Procurement funds for “General Information Technology,” down from $43M in FY 2015.
  • $9.6M for Integrated Strategic Planning & Analysis Network (ISPAN), an increase of $500K (6%) from the FY 2015 level

Army

  • $3.5B in Procurement funding for Communications and Electronics Equipment
  • $783M in O&M funding for upgrades to the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T)
  • $260M in Procurement funding for the Distributed Common Ground System-Army
  • $152.2M in Procurement funding for Automated Data Processing Equipment
  • $103M in Procurement funding for the Installation Information Infrastructure Modernization (IMOD) Program
  • $72.2M in Procurement funding for the Communications Security Program
  • $43.5M in Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation funding related to WIN-T for developing Network Operations software to meet the Army Network Convergence goals
  • $22M in Procurement funding for the Unified Command Suite

Navy

  • $17.9B in R&D funding, up nearly 12% from the FY 2015 level of $16.0B
  • $55M in R&D for Cyber (ORT/TFCA only), up from $3M in FY 2015
  • $2.4B in Navy Procurement funds for Communications and Electronics Equipment, up $158M (7%) from FY 2015
  • $279M in Procurement funds for CANES, down from $336M in FY 2015
  • $31.8M For the Distributed Common Ground System-Navy (DCGS-N), up from $23.7M in FY 2015
  • $135.7M for the Information Systems Security Program (ISSP), a 26% increase over the FY 2015 level of $108M
  • $740M in Marine Corps Procurement funds for Communications and Electronics Equipment, including $67M to support NGEN. The total is up from $570M in FY 2015

Defense-Wide

  • $12.3B in funding for the Science and Technology program for future technologies
  • $7.4B in funding for C4I systems
  • $7.1B for space-based systems
  • $800M for the MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aircraft System
  • $84.4M in Procurement funding for equipment for the Joint Information Environment, a 539% increase over the $13.3M invested in FY 2015
  • $57.7M in Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation funding for SOF Advanced Technology Development
  • $11.7M in Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation funding for Insider Threat detection

Agriculture

The USDA’s FY 2016 budget request for IT is $1.95B, 1.56% higher than the estimated level of $1.92B in Fiscal Year 2015.

Funding highlights include: 

  • $431M in the USDA’s Working Capital Fund, with money in this account used to finance central services in the USDA, including automated data processing systems for payroll, personnel, and related services; telecommunications services; and information technology systems
  • $66.3M in funding for information technology related to Farm Service Agency IT programs, including work related to the Modernize and Innovate the Delivery of Agricultural Systems (MIDAS) program
  • $29.5M in DME funding for the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Delivery Streamline Initiative (CDSI)
  • $29M in DME funding for the Office of the Chief Information Officer’s Optimized Computing Environment (OCE)
  • $28M for the USDA’s cyber security requirements and programs
  • $7.6M to fund a USDA Digital Services team that will focus on transforming the department's digital services in line with the White House’s Smarter IT Delivery initiative
  • $4.25M for information technology infrastructure at the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service
  • $3M to implement the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, including changes in business processes, work force, and/or information technology assets
  • $1M for the Common Computing Environment, a shared information technology platform for the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Rural Development

Commerce

The president’s budget request provides $2333.2M in funding for the Commerce Department’s information technology, an 8% increase over FY 2015 enacted levels. 62% of FY 2016 funds are dedicated to operations and maintenance, a 3% increase over the FY 2015 enacted levels. Funding to support development, modernization, and enhancement efforts totals over $880M for FY 2016, rising above the amount enacted in FY 2015 by 38%.

Funding highlights include:

  • The top ten investments by requested funding for FY 2016 combine to make up just over 57% of Commerce’s entire IT budget.
  • Includes $339.7M in new investments for FY 2016.
  • Funding for upgrades is set to receive $5.2M for FY 2016, level with the enacted amounts for FY 2015.
  • Mission delivery and management support efforts request an additional $84M, bringing the total for FY 2016 to $1,415.5M and marking a 9% increase over the enacted level from FY 2015.
  • Commerce aims to provide $798.3M in funding for infrastructure, office automation, and telecommunications, an increase of 8% over levels from FY 2015.
  • Increasing 27% over the enacted level for FY 2015, Commerce has identified $116.2M for efforts related to enterprise architecture, capital planning, and CIO functions.

Energy

The president’s budget request provides $1,469.1M in funding for the Energy Department’s information technology, a 1% drop from FY 2015 enacted levels. 92% of FY 2016 funds are dedicated to operations and maintenance, a 1% increase over the FY 2015 enacted levels. Funding to support development, modernization, and enhancement efforts decline below the amount enacted in FY 2015 by $25.M, marking a drop of 18%.

Funding highlights include:

  • With details for over 700 investments for FY 2016, the top ten investments by requested funding combine to make up around 11% of Energy’s IT budget.
  • Includes $72.7M in new investments for FY 2016.
  • Consolidation activities are set to receive $43.6M.
  • Funding for upgrades is set to receive $3.5M for FY 2016, level with the enacted amounts for FY 2015.
  • Energy is targeting $663.8M in funds for mission delivery and management support, marking a drop of 2% from FY 2015.
  • Maintaining the enacted funding level from FY 2015, Energy aims to provide $747.6M for infrastructure, office automation, and telecommunications.
  • Increasing 7% over the level for FY 2015, Energy is looking to provide $73.5M for efforts related to enterprise architecture, capital planning, and CIO functions.

Health and Human Services

The president’s budget request provides $11.4B in total IT funding to HHS, a 10% decrease over FY 2015 enacted levels. Grants account for $6.4B of the total IT budget.  HHS’ proposed IT budget without grants totals $4.9B which is a 2% decrease over FY 2015.

Funding highlights include (excludes grants):

  • DME accounts for $1.1B or 22% of the total IT budget, a 14% decrease from FY 2015 enacted levels
  • 545 total investments of which the top 10 represent 37% of the total IT budget at $1.8B
  • $149M slated for cloud investments, a 5.5% decrease from FY 2015
  • Notable changes in agency IT budgets include CMS $2.3B down 3%, NIH $781M down 2.4%, FDA $584 up 1%, and CDC $324M down 6.5%
  • Notable program changes include CMS IT Infrastructure – Ongoing down $95M, CMS Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM)down $60M, and CMS Beneficiary e-Services up $22M

Homeland Security

The budget request provides $6.2B for IT investments at DHS for FY 2016, a 4% increase over the FY 2015 enacted level of $5.9B.

Funding highlights include:

  • DME accounts for $1.0B or 16% of the total IT budget, a $76M increase from FY 2015 enacted levels
  • $150.3M in DME funds for USCIS Transformation, which makes up 83% of the total FY 2016 funding of $180.9M
  • $463.9M for the National Cybersecurity & Protection System (NCPS), including $95.8M in DME funds, 21% of the total
  • $102.7M for the Continuous Diagnostics & Mitigation (CDM) program, of which $91.4, or 89%, are DME funds
  • $88.5M in DME funds for the CBP Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) Systems Program, which represents 42% of the overall $209.3M for the year
  • $80.3M in funds for the NPPD Next Generation Networks Priority Services (NGN-PS), 100% of which is DME

Interior

The president’s budget request provides $1,098.5M in funding for the Department of the Interior’s information technology, a drop of less than one percent from FY 2015 enacted levels. 92% of FY 2016 funds provide operations and maintenance, a 2% increase over the FY 2015 enacted levels to $1014.2M. At less than $85M for FY 2016, support for development, modernization, and enhancement efforts drops 20% below the amount enacted in FY 2015.

Funding highlights include:

  • The top five investments by requested funding for FY 2016 combine to make up over 61% of Interior’s entire IT budget.
  • New investments receive $5.6M for FY 2016.
  • Requesting $402.1M for mission delivery and management support efforts, Interior looks to slightly raise the funding for these investments bumping the total up by 1% over the FY 2015 levels.
  • Interior’s request of $657.6M for investments targeting infrastructure, office automation, and telecommunications marks a 1% decrease from FY 2015 enacted levels.
  • Dropping 13% from the level enacted for FY 2015, Interior has identified $38.3M for investments related to enterprise architecture, capital planning, and CIO functions.

NASA

The president’s budget request provides $1,390.4M in funding for NASA’s information technology, a 2% decrease from FY 2015 enacted levels. 95% of FY 2016 funds are dedicated to operations and maintenance, maintaining the FY 2015 enacted levels at $1,323.1M. Funding to support development, modernization, and enhancement efforts takes a hit for FY 2016, dropping 27% below the amount enacted in FY 2015 to $67.3M.

Funding highlights include:

  • The top five investments by requested funding for FY 2016 combine to make up nearly 59% of NASA’s entire IT budget.
  • NASA is looking to maintain its spending for mission delivery and management support, requesting $942.8M for FY2016.
  • $445.2M for Infrastructure, office automation, and telecommunications, a 2% drop from FY 2015 levels.
  • Maintaining the funding level enacted for FY 2015, FY 2016 would see $2.5M for efforts related to enterprise architecture, capital planning, and CIO functions.

Justice

The president’s budget request provides $2732.3M in funding for the Justice Department’s information technology, a 4% increase over FY 2015 enacted levels. Topping $2,250M for FY 2016, 83% of these funds are dedicated to operations and maintenance, marking a 5% increase over the FY 2015 enacted levels. At $476.1M for FY 2016, funding to support development, modernization, and enhancement efforts stay fairly level with the amount enacted in FY 2015, dropping by only 1%.

Funding highlights include:

  • The top ten investments by requested funding for FY 2016 combine to make up nearly 37% of Justice’s entire IT budget.
  • Includes $110.6M in new investments for FY 2016.
  • $478.6M is requested for system upgrades, an increase of around $5.5M over enacted levels for FY 2015.
  • Consolidation activities are set to receive $237.3M.
  • Dropping by 2% from the enacted FY 2015 levels, the request for mission delivery and management support activities totals $1,138.0M for FY 2016.
  • Justice aims to provide $1,413.8M in FY 2016 for infrastructure, office automation, and telecommunications, marking an increase of 10% from the level enacted for FY 2015.
  • Rising 23% above the FY 2015 level, Justice has identified $152.2M for efforts related to enterprise architecture, capital planning, and CIO functions.

Social Security Administration

SSA sees a 7% budget increase for FY 2016, growing to $1.7B from $1.6B in FY 2015.

Funding highlights include

  • At SSA DME accounts $705M or 42% of the total FY 2016 IT budget
  • $278.4M is allocated for Non-Major Infrastructure IT investments, of which 275.5M (99%) is DME
  • $55.0M in DME funds for the Disability Case Processing System (DCPS)      , which accounts for 92% of the total $60M budget
  • $68.5M slated for Non-Major IT Security Initiatives, 62% of which ($42.7M) is new development funds
  • $29.1M in new DME funding for the Intelligent Disability program, which makes up 84% of the $34.8M total

State

The State department receives $1.6B in IT funds for FY 2016, up 15% with an increase of $218M from FY 2015.

Funding highlights include

  • $140.4M of total agency DME funds account for 9% of the total FY 2016 IT budget and increases $3M from FY 2015
  • $28.5M for Consular Systems Modernization, of which $18.8M (66%) is DME funds
  • $13.3 in funding for the Architecture Services program, 100%        of which is DME
  • $11.0M in DME funding for Bureau IT Support, which accounts for 5% of the overall $230.3M allocated for FY 2016
  • $10.9M for DME efforts around the Global Foreign Affairs Compensation System (GFACS), or 35% of the total $30.8M in funds
  • $43.3M in total funding for the Integrated Personnel Management System (IPMS), $10.1M (23%) of which is DME
  • $31.6M in total funding for the Earnings Redesign initiative, $27.6M (88%) of which is DME

Transportation

The DOT’s FY 2016 budget request for IT is $3.3B, 6.4% higher than the estimated level of $3.1B in Fiscal Year 2015.

Funding highlights include:

  • $245M in DME funding for the FAA’s Terminal Automation Modernization and Replacement Program (TAMR-P)
  • $238M in DME funding for the FAA’s Data Communications NextGen Support (DataComm) program
  • $215M for the FAA’s Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system
  • $200M for the FAA’s Facilities & Equipment account to finance major capital investments in FAA power systems, air route traffic control centers, air traffic control towers, terminal radar approach control facilities, and navigation and landing equipment
  • $3M to implement the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, including changes in business processes, work force, and/or information technology assets
  • $60M for NextGen operations planning activities at the FAA
  • $42.6M in funding through September 30, 2018 for information management related to Motor Carrier Safety Operations and Programs
  • $20M for FMCSA’s commercial vehicle information systems and networks deployment program and Information Technology Deployment (ITD) program
  • $9M to fund a DOT Digital Services team that will focus on transforming the department's digital services in line with the White House’s Smarter IT Delivery initiative
  • $8M for cyber security initiatives, including necessary upgrades to the DOT’s wide area network and information technology infrastructure
  • $4M for operation and maintenance of the FTA’s National Transit Database

Treasury

The president’s budget request provides $4.5B in total IT funding to Treasury, a 19% increase over FY 2015 enacted levels.    

Funding highlights include:

  • DME accounts for $933M or 21% of the total IT budget, a 4% increase from FY 2015 enacted levels
  • 280 total investments of which the top 10 represent 56% of the total IT budget at $2.5B
  • $330M slated for cloud investments, a 9.6% increase from FY 2015
  • Notable changes in agency IT budgets include IRS $3.2B up 30%, Fiscal Service $697 down 1%, and Departmental Offices $255M down 5%
  • Notable program changes include IRS Main Frames and Servers Services and Support (MSSS) up $219M, IRS Enterprise Services - PAC 9U up $204M, and IRS Applications Development Program Support (ADPS) up $60M

Veterans Affairs

The president’s budget request provides $4.4B in total IT funding to VA, a 5% increase over FY 2015 enacted levels.

Funding highlights include:

  • DME accounts for $639M or 15% of the total IT budget, a 11% decrease from FY 2015 enacted levels
  • 31 total investments of which the top 10 represent 92% of the total IT budget at $4B
  • $49M slated for cloud investments, a 32% decrease from FY 2015
  • Notable program changes include Benefits 21st Century Paperless Delivery of Veterans Benefits up $116M, Medical 21st Century Development Core down $81M, and Interagency 21st Century One Vet up $75M

We will be publishing our complete analysis of the FY 2016 budget request – including IT investments and initiatives – in the weeks to come.

Fellow GovWin Federal Industry Analysis (FIA) analysts Kyra Fussell, Deniece Peterson, Angela Petty and Alex Rossino contributed to this entry.

 

FY 2016 President’s Budget Request – GovWin FIA’s First Take

The White House released its FY 2016 Budget request today, perhaps the earliest annual budget release of the Obama Administration thus far. Several of my fellow GovWin Federal Industry Analysis (FIA) colleagues and I wasted no time in delving into this budget so that we could provide you with our first impressions of what we found noteworthy.

Similar to each presidential budget, the FY 2016 President’s Budget Request provides a blueprint for the administration’s policy and legislative agenda for the coming fiscal year and beyond. We reviewed the largest federal departments’ discretionary budgets to get a sense of direction and priorities for FY 2016, which begins October 1, 2015. Below is a summary table followed by key funding details and initiatives arranged by department.


Defense

DoD’s discretionary base budget request is up nearly 8% over FY 2015. The $534.3B in discretionary funding is $38.2B more than the FY 2015 enacted level.

Funding highlights include:

  • $126.53B for the Army (an increase of $7.B from the FY 2015 enacted level)
  • $161.0B for the Navy (an increase of $11.8B from the FY 2015 enacted level)
  • $152.9B for the Air Force (an increase of $16B from the FY 2015 enacted level)
  • $94.0B for Defense-Wide operations (an increase of $3.4B from the FY 2015 enacted level)
  • $51B in Oversees Contingency Operations (OCO) funding across all DoD (a decrease of $13.4B from the FY 2015 enacted level)
  • $209.9B for DoD operations and maintenance funding (an increase of $14.5B from the FY 2015 enacted level)
  • $107.7B for DoD procurement funding (an increase of $14.1B from the FY 2015 enacted level)
  • $69.8B in DoD RDT&E funding (an increase of $6.3B from the FY 2015 enacted level)
  • Invests $12.3B in DoD’s Science and Technology (S&T) Program, including $5.5B in Advanced Technology Development
  • Provides $7.4B for C4I systems
  • Includes $7.1B for DoD Space Investment Programs
  • Funds construction of the Joint Operations Center for U.S. Cyber Command at Fort Meade, Maryland
  • Funds ongoing investments in the DoD’s Joint Information Environment
  • Modestly increases the budget of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency from $2.9B to 3B
  • Allocates $32.3B for the Defense Health Program
  • Allocates $109.4M for communications upgrades at the new U.S. Strategic Air Command headquarters building

Agriculture

The president’s budget request includes $23.5B in discretionary appropriations for the Department of Agriculture, 1.25% below the enacted level of $23.8B in Fiscal Year 2015.

Funding highlights include:

  • $1B in financial assistance to rural businesses
  • $2.2B in community facility loans for rural areas
  • $6.4B for direct and guaranteed farm ownership and operating loans
  • $450M for competitive, peer-reviewed research for fundamental and applied agricultural sciences
  • $200M in funding for Watershed and Flood Preventions Operations
  • $206M to invest in the backlog of priority facility construction and renovation for the Agricultural Research Service
  • $60M to modernize the Headquarters South Building
  • $7.6M for a digital services team to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of USDA IT systems

Commerce

The president’s budget request provides $9.8B in base discretionary funding to Commerce, an 11% increase over FY 2015 enacted levels. These funds are intended to promote growth through trade, invest, and innovation as well as a data-driven economy.

Funding highlights include:

  • Provides funding to National Institute of Standards and Technology in support of advance in areas like cybersecurity and advanced manufacturing. Efforts to work with industry are called out in particular, such as implementing the Cybersecurity Framework of standards and best practices. Funding will also sustain work on initiatives like cybersecurity automation and the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC).
  • $1.5B to Census to support research, development, and implementation of the 2020 Census. The Census Bureau will also include planned increase for the Economic Census and advance initiatives to make data and resources publicly accessible.
  • Continues strong funding for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, including $2B for next generation weather satellites, including $380M for the Polar Follow-On satellites. $147M in funding is also provided for the construction of an ocean survey vessel.
  • $1.1B for National Weather Service includes increases in funding for critical infrastructure.
  • Includes $3M to establish an in-house Idea Lab to pursue innovative approaches to achieve the agency’s strategic goals and objectives.
  • Requests $6M to build a digital services team for Department of Commerce dedicated to improving IT systems and services.
  • $497M for the International Trade Administration includes $20M to expand SelectUSA efforts to grow business investment in the United States.
  • Auctions 500MHz of federal spectrum, aiming to reduce the deficit by $40B over the next decade and provide greater commercial access to spectrum.

Energy

The president’s budget request provides $29.9B in base discretionary funding to Energy, a 10% increase over FY 2015 enacted levels. These funds are intended to support nuclear security, clean energy, environmental cleanup, climate change response, as well as science and innovation.

Funding highlights include:

  • $5B in funding supports transformational research and development for critical technology areas such as nuclear safety, grid modernization, solar and renewable energy, and energy efficiency.
  • $5.3B to support scientific research, especially in the physical sciences.
  • $12.6B for National Nuclear Security Administration, an 11% increase over FY 2015 enacted levels.
  • $5.8B for critical nuclear legacy cleanup responsibilities.
  • Expands efficiency initiatives introduced in FY 2015 to advance key priorities and improve project integration.

Health and Human Services

The president’s budget request provides $79.9B in base discretionary budget authority to HHS, a 0.3% decrease over FY 2015 enacted levels. 

Funding highlights include:

  • Supports the Affordable Care Act and operation of the Health Insurance Marketplace.
  • Provides $4.2B to serve 28.6 million patients at more than 9,000 health center sites in medically underserved communities. $2.7B of this amount is new mandatory funding.
  • Funds reform of health care delivery by finding better ways to deliver care, pay providers, and distribute information.
  • Promotes innovative medical research to maintain the nation’s leadership in the life sciences including research into Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Advances product development efforts to support procurement of next-generation medical countermeasures against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats with a $522M investment.
  • Accelerates progress in scientific and public health efforts to detect, prevent, and control illness and death related to antibiotic-resistant infections with funding of $993M.
  • Proposes targeted reforms to Medicare and Medicaid which are projected to save more than $400B over the next decade.
  • Provides the Indian Health Service with $5.1B, an increase of $461M over FY 2015 enacted levels, to expand health care services and construct clinics and sanitation facilities.
  • Includes $1.6B to bolster food safety activities.    
  • Promotes continued efforts to cut waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid including removing social security numbers from Medicare beneficiary ID cards.

Homeland Security **

DHS would receive $41.2B in base discretionary funding in the president’s budget request, a 7.9% increase over the FY 2015 $38.2B budget request level. DHS is currently operating under continuing resolution (CR) at the FY 2014 enacted budget level of $39.8B. This CR expires on 2/27 by which time Congress is expected to pass appropriations to cover the remainder of FY 2015.

Funding highlights include:

  • $3.7B for Aviation Security and Screening at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) sustain aviation security and effectively align passenger screening resources based on risk. These risk-based security initiatives maximize security capabilities and expedite the screening process for low-risk travelers.
  • $132.3M for the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) to provide expedited travel for pre-approved, low-risk travelers through dedicated lanes and kiosks.
  • $101M for Radiological and Nuclear Detection Equipment for detecting and interdicting illicit radioactive or nuclear materials by the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and other DHS components.
  • $85.3M for the CBP Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) program for passive radiation scanning and X-ray/gamma-ray imaging of cargo and conveyances
  • $373.5M is provided to maintain necessary border security infrastructure and technology to improve CBP’s ability to detect and interdict illegal activity
  • $480M for network security, including the EINSTEIN3 Accelerated program to detect and prevent malicious traffic
  • $102.6M for the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program for hardware, software, and services that strengthen the operational network security
  • $1B to replace aging Coast Guard cutters, aircraft, electronic systems and shore infrastructure
  • An increase of $86.7M to enhance U.S. Secret Service capacity to protect senior leaders

Justice

The president’s budget request provides $28.7B in base discretionary funding to Justice, a 5% increase over FY 2015 enacted levels. These funds are intended to support core law enforcement needs, safe and secure prisons, and other Federal, State, Tribal and local programs.

Funding highlights include:

  • Strengthening investment in cybersecurity through over $200M in IT upgrades and tools to detect and deter cyber-attacks. Funds also support plans for a Federal Cyber Campus to co-locate critical civilian cybersecurity agencies.
  • Provides $97M to expand training and oversight for local law enforcement, increase the use of body worn cameras, and provide additional opportunities for reform through technical assistance and training.
  • $482M in funds to address the back log of immigration cases at the Executive Office of Immigration Review. These funds will support hiring judges and legal representation as well as expanding the Legal Orientation Program.
  • Efforts to combat violent extremism include $4M for research, $6M for model development, $2M for technical assistance, and $3M for projects to enhance collaboration between law enforcement, communities, and other stakeholders.
  • Credits applied to Justice’s discretionary budget authority for FY 2016 include $13.5B from the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) and $304M from the Assets Forfeiture Fund (AFF). Both of these figures are up from the FY 2015 enacted levels. The CVF is up 39% over FY 2015, while AFF is up 58% for the same period.

Transportation

The president’s budget request includes $14.3B in discretionary appropriations for the Department of Transportation, 3.5% less than the $13.8B enacted in Fiscal Year 2015.

Funding highlights include:

  • Creates a new Office of Safety Oversight to coordinate and improve safety efforts across all modes of transportation
  • Provides $956M in discretionary funding for modernization of the Next Generation Air Transportation System
  • Provides $478B in mandatory and discretionary funding over six years for a surface transportation reauthorization proposal, including:
    • $1.25B per year for the TIGER Grant program
    • $18B over six years for the President’s National Export Initiative
    • $23B for transit and passenger rail programs and $144B over six years to expand transit capital investment grants
    • $6B over six years to provide credit assistance for nationally or regionally significant transportation projects through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act Program
  • Provides $29.4B in mandatory and discretionary funding over six years for a Critical Immediate Safety Investments Program to provide targeted infrastructure investments
  • Provides nearly $6B in mandatory and discretionary funding over six years for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Invests $935M in mandatory and discretionary funding over six years for vehicle safety and innovation, including vehicle automation and vehicle-to-vehicle technologies

Treasury

The president’s budget request provides $12.8B in base discretionary budget authority to Treasury, a 4.9% increase over FY 2015 enacted levels.   

Funding highlights include:

  • Includes $2.9B for Treasury’s international assistance programs to promote economic growth, poverty reduction, action on climate change, and security through Multilateral Development Bank (MDB) investments in developing and emerging economies.
  • Funds increases in transparency and accountability in federal financial management and implements the Digital Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act). 
  • Proposes funding to transform Treasury’s digital services with the greatest impact to taxpayers and businesses so they are easier to use and more cost-effective to build and maintain.
  • Provides IRS with $12.3B in base discretionary resources, an increase of $1.3B from FY 2015, to restore taxpayer services to acceptable levels.  Funds are also provided to continue major IT projects, which aim to protect taxpayer information, modernize antiquated systems, continue development of a state-of-the-art online taxpayer experience. 

Veterans Affairs

The president’s budget request provides $70.2B in base discretionary budget authority to VA, a 7.8% increase over FY 2015 enacted levels. VA also received $15B in the Veteran Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014.

Funding highlights include:

  • Continues the largest department-wide transformation in VA’s history through MyVA, an effort to reorient the department around the needs of veterans.
  • Improves veterans’ access to medical care by investing $60B.
  • Supports improvements in veterans’ mental health care, telehealth care, life-saving treatment for Hepatitis C, specialized care for women veterans, long-term care, and benefits for veterans’ caregivers.
  • Provides $1.4B for programs aimed at ending veteran homelessness in 2015.
  • Strengthens veterans benefit programs by proposing an increase of $85M to hire 770 new staff to improve timeliness of non-rating claims, reduce the inventory of veterans’ appeals, strengthen the fiduciary program and further enhance disability claims processing accuracy and efficiency through centralized mail and the national work queue.

FY 2016 Federal Information Technology Budget Request

As of publishing time, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had not yet published IT budget specifics, but topline numbers show a 2.5% increase for FY 2016. This puts the total IT request (including state and local grants and classified defense spending) at $86.4 billion compared to the FY 2015 estimate of $83.4B.

The administration’s priorities fall in line with many of the initiatives discussed in the FY 2015 request along with those launched by OMB and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP).  Focus areas include:

  • $450 million to drive forward progress on cross-agency management priorities such as the U.S. Digital Service (USDS), PortfolioStat, Freeze the Footprint, and Open Data.
  • Providing funding to 25 agencies for the development of their own agency digital services teams.
  • Piloting new initiatives in IT acquisition that will increase digital acquisition capability within agencies, train agency personnel in digital IT acquisitions, and test innovative contracting models.
  • Increasing the use of Shared Services
  • Funding that will allow agencies to make progress in implementing the DATA Act and increase Federal spending transparency
  • Continue development of the government’s Category Management initiative to include:
    • Proposing legislation making it easier for vendors to bid on modestly-sized procurements and bringing more new companies into the Federal marketplace.
    • broadening the range of purchases that can be accomplished with minimal complexity and Government-unique requirements by requesting authority to raise the simplified acquisition threshold from $150,000 to $500,000.
    • Seeking new pilot authority to make it easier for agencies to set aside work for new small businesses and other firms with cutting edge/creative solutions that have limited experience selling to the federal government

Stay tuned to FIA as we will be publishing our complete analysis of the FY 2016 budget request in the coming weeks, where we will go into greater detail on the key initiatives, IT investments and contractor implications that will shape the federal IT marketplace for FY 2016.

Fellow GovWin Federal Industry Analysis (FIA) analysts Kyra Fussell, Deniece Peterson, Angela Petty and Alex Rossino contributed to this entry.

 

Congress Passes FY 2015 Funding – Civilian Highlights, Part 1

The U.S. Congress passed an omnibus funding bill for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2015 that includes $1.1 trillion in total in discretionary federal funds, roughly half of which goes to federal civilian departments and agencies.

Federal News Radio reported that the Senate voted 56-40 late Saturday for the bill that will fund most agencies through September, the end of FY 2015. The House of Representatives had voted two days earlier on the spending measure, passing it 219-206.

The final bill removes concerns over the possibility of government shutdowns for the rest of the fiscal year and address funding for each of the agencies covered under the twelve individual appropriations bills that traditionally make their way through Congress. The only exception in full-year funding is the Department of Homeland Security, which is funded by at continuing resolution (CR) levels through Feb. 27, 2015, due to congressional concerns over White House immigration plans. Future funding will be taken up by the next Congress.


 

Department Highlights

Energy

Department of Energy funding of $27.9B supports programs across the department’s five primary mission areas: science, energy, environment, nuclear non-proliferation, and national security.

  • National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA): Funding for NNSA sees an increase of $200M over FY 2014 levels to maintain the safety, security, and readiness of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile. This increase brings NNSA’s funding to $11.4B for FY 2015.
  • Funding includes $8.2B for weapons activities as well as $1.2B for naval reactors. Advanced simulation and computing efforts receive $598.0M, including $50.0M for activities related to the exascale initiative.
  • Energy Programs: Support for programs that encourage U.S. competitiveness drive an increase of $22M over FY 2014 enacted levels, bringing funding for Energy Programs at DOE to $10.2B.
  • Science Research: Funding for energy science research is maintained at FY 2014 levels, providing $5,071M to strengthen innovation and support basic energy research, development of high-performance computing systems, and exploration into next generation clean energy solutions.
  • Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E): The advanced research organization ARPA-E receives $280.0M, $45M below the level requested for FY 2015.

Commerce

Department of Commerce funding of $8.5B marks an increase of $286M above the level enacted for FY 2014.

  • Patent and Trademark Office (PTO): $3,458M for the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office, the full estimated amount of offsetting fee collection for FY 2015. The Patents and Trademark Office had nearly $651M in unobligated balances at the end of FY 2014.
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): $675.5M for the scientific and technical core programs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
    • This amount includes $15M for the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence and up to $60.7M for cybersecurity research and development.
    • National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education receives $4M. These funds also provide $16.5M for the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), which includes up to $6M for the lab-to-market program and up to $2M for urban dome programs.
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): $5,441M for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This amount includes $3,333.4M for coastal, fisheries, marine, weather, satellite, and other programs.
  • Census Bureau: $1,088M for the Bureau of the Census, which includes $840M for periodic censuses and programs.
  • International Trade Administration: $472M in total program resources for the International Trade Administration. $10M of those funds are expected to be offset by fee collection, resulting in a direct appropriation of $462M.  Of those funds, up to $9M ins for the Interagency Trade and Enforcement Center, up to $10M is for SelectUSA, and Global Markets are funded at levels at least equal to FY 2014.

Go to Part 2 of Civilian Highlights, or check out our Defense Highlights of the FY 2015 Omnibus here.

Fellow GovWin Federal Industry Analysis (FIA) analysts Kyra Fussell, Angela Petty, and Alex Rossino contributed to this entry.

What Portion of Federal Civilian Information Security Spending Is Contractor Addressable?

With the inconsistencies in reported federal spending, it can be difficult to determine how much agencies are investing in different technology areas, like information security. That lack of visibility can make it even more challenging for contractors to determine the size of the addressable market. The reported data for top and mid-tier civilian agencies suggests around 80% of IT security funds could be in play for contractors.

 

Drawing on agency rankings from FIA’s previous information security market reports, we see that the top five civilian agencies along with mid-tier agencies account for the lion’s share of spending on IT security outside the Defense Department. According the FY13 FISMA report, these agencies comprised 87% of civilian cyber spending. While the FISMA figures give a sense of historic direct security spending, they do not reflect current addressable funding.

 

One approach to determining the current addressability of information security spending leverages the IT budget details that agencies report to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). First the information security related categories within the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) Business Reference Model (BRM) services are identified. These categories allow investment details to be filtered by determining primary and secondary service requirements. The results that meet the FEA BRM service criteria are reviewed for relevance to information security. This process yielded 208 IT investments reported for FY 2015. Then, the contractor addressable portion of spending for each of these investments is calculated. Finally, the figures for each of the investments are used to approximate averages for the spending per investment and for the contractor addressable portions.  

Key Findings

  • Contractor addressable information security at the top 10 civilian agencies amounts to nearly $3 billion.
  • On average, contractors vie for 81% of civilian IT investments that address information security.
  • Addressability varies across the civilian agencies and does not necessarily correspond to the highest levels of spending.
    • While the Energy Department appears to have the highest contractor addressability, it has the lowest average for funding per investment.
    • Not surprisingly, the Department of Homeland Security also has a high level of addressability and the funding per investment is significantly higher, indicating a high reliance on contracted goods and services.

There are some drawbacks worth acknowledging with this approach. Obviously, the calculations rely on the accuracy of agency reporting and consistently coding investments to FEA BRM service areas. This analysis also only takes public data into account, which omits any classified funding or details. Numerous investments include an unspecified portion of spending dedicated to security. In such cases, the whole amount has been included. Additionally, the funding level associated with each of the investments reflects the requested, not approved or actual, sum. Despite some of the limitations around the conclusions, the offer a decent starting point for sizing contracted spending on information security within the federal civilian government. 

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Originally published in the GovWin FIA Analysts Perspectives Blog. Follow me on Twitter @FIAGovWin.

 

Energy Department Cloud Services Need Oversight

In September 2014, the Department of Energy's (DOE) Inspector General (IG) released findings from an audit of the cloud environments across DOE. The report highlighted several issues including problems with inventory management and implementation of security controls. These problems were linked to a more fundamental concern: DOE lacks a cloud strategy.

The DOE issues around cloud inventorying practices are reminiscent of challenges agencies encountered when taking stock of data centers and software applications. Lack of visibility and transparency raise difficulties around duplication of effort and ensuring return on investment for cloud services. DOE estimates that spending on independently acquired and managed cloud services are in excess of $30 million.

Reviews of eight contracts provided at six different locations determined that the contract did not properly or consistently address business and cybersecurity risks. The inconsistent implementation of security controls raises serious compliance issues with internal guidance as well as with the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP). The DOE cloud program audit found inconsistent and incomplete compliance with FedRAMP, which agencies were supposed to achieve by June 2014. More troublesome than having some programs in process of implementing requirement was the fact that DOE had erroneously reported to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that the majority of DOE cloud services met all FedRAMP requirements.

Departmental management concurred with the IG's recommendations, including the need to establish an enterprise approach to implementation of cloud computing and to ensure oversight of adoption efforts. The FY 2014-2018 DOE Information Resource Management (IRM) Strategic Plan replaces over 15 different strategic documents and efforts. One of the objectives outlined in the IRM document calls out a target for creating a network of the department's clouds, which may serve as a high level strategy. DOE plan to update its departmental cyber security program (DOE Order (O) 205.1B) to include clear requirements and guidance around oversight of cloud computing efforts. DOE is also in discussions with the FedRAMP program management office to evaluate DOE-specific FedRAMP requirements that would be included in the revision of DOE O 205.1 B. As for the issues around contracting inconsistencies, DOE expects to continue working on contracting guidance and standard clauses as well as leveraging work with the Federal CIO Council to identify and adopt best practices. All of the recommendations share the same estimated completion date of September 30, 2015.

DOE's IG attributes some of these issues to the lack of a comprehensive cloud strategy. For example, the inventory of cloud initiatives was incomplete. DOE reported only 44 ongoing initiatives to OMB. Review found, however, that DOE has at least 130 initiatives across 24 federal and contractor locations. An overarching strategy would have provided a foundation for coordination of efforts along with oversight and risk management.

It's fair to expect more reports on cloud implementation practices from other agencies to follow, since this DOE audit links back to a NASA audit and a government-wide review. In July 2013 NASA's IG published a report that found the agency lacked governance to support efficient cloud implementation. According to the DOE audit, "As a result of issues identified during [the NASA IG cloud program] audit, a Government-wide initiative was undertaken by the Council of Inspectors General for Integrity and Efficiency to provide insight to agency heads and lawmakers on how well the Federal government has adopted cloud computing technologies. In support of that effort, [the Energy Department] initiated this audit to determine whether the Department efficiently and effectively managed its cloud computing environment."

Historically, some agency reporting has fallen under other IT areas, like security. For example, USDA's audit of the department's information security included review of cloud services. Similar to the findings of the DOE audit, the USDAreport highlighted hurdles around contracting and managing risks. Another instance comes from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

More recently, however, reports have singled out cloud computing adoption as a focus. At the start of 2014, the Transportation Department announced it was auditing practices for acquiring and monitoring cloud services. In July of this year, the EPA released findings from its review of cloud technology adoption. Other agencies have announced or planned audits that are likely still in the works. Last December, for example, the Commerce Department announced that it had commenced an audit of cloud-computing environments. As part of the planned projects around cybersecurity, Department of Defense's IG audit plan for FY 2014 included evaluating the efficiency of their cloud migration strategy and efforts. With a number of reports still underway, it's too soon to fully assess how the government has fared in its adoption of cloud computing. So far, however, issues around governance, oversight and risk management appear to be thematic.

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Originally published in the GovWin FIA Analysts Perspectives Blog. Follow me on Twitter @FIAGovWin .

GAO: Federal Agencies are Falling Short in Overseeing IT Contractors

Federal agencies need to improve at overseeing the IT contractors that operate their computer systems and process their information, according to a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Agencies are legally required to ensure that contractors adequately protect these assets, but GAO shows that there are inconsistencies among agencies’ handling of this responsibility.

GAO set out to assess how well certain agencies oversee the security and privacy controls for systems that are operated by contractors and how well the agencies with government-wide security and privacy guidance and oversight responsibilities were doing in helping them. In their audit, GAO reviewed the implementation of security and privacy controls for selected contractor-operated systems across six federal agencies, based on their reported number of contractor-operated systems. These were the Departments of Energy (DOE), Homeland Security (DHS), State, and Transportation (DOT), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). 

GAO found that the agencies generally had established security and privacy requirements for contractors to follow and prepared for assessments to determine the effectiveness of contractor implementation of controls. However, all but DHS were inconsistent in overseeing the execution and review of those assessments. One frequent area of inconsistency was in executing test plans that would identify potential security and privacy risks. In one example, GAO found that the DOT officials did not have evidence that 44 of 133 contractor employees operating one particular system had undergone a current background investigation.

A contributing reason for shortfalls that GAO identified in agency oversight of contractors was that agencies had not effectively documented procedures to direct officials in performing such oversight activities. None of the agencies had procedures in place to direct officials in how to conduct such oversight and that led to inconsistencies.

Another area mentioned by GAO is inconsistently-applied or unclear guidance. OMB FISMA reporting instructions to agencies state that systems operated by contractors are to be reported as part of the agency’s system inventory. But GAO found that agencies are interpreting and applying the guidance differently because the guidance for categorizing and reporting contractor-operated systems does not clearly define what constitutes a contractor-operated system. The difference in application causes many systems that are contractor-operated to not be classified as such.  This has resulted in incomplete information on the number of contractor-operated systems within the government.

Potential Cost Implications

Given the areas of shortfall within agencies it is possible that renewed efforts could have cost and administrative implications in several areas:

  • Personnel Security – Scrutiny of contractor background investigations is at an all-time high and inconsistencies discovered by GAO may result in direct costs and/or delays to companies and agencies while sufficient background investigations are completed. Similar implications may result if required agency-specific training in security or contingency planning has not been consistently administered.
  • Compliance Efforts – Given GAO’s spotlight on inconsistencies in how systems are evaluated, assessments of systems and personnel for compliance with agency requirements will likely increase, adding short-term burden until processes are in place and efforts are routine.
  • FISMA Assessment – Increased clarity or education from OMB on applying their FISMA reporting standards for contractor-operated systems could increase scrutiny on some systems – both government-owned, contractor-operated and contractor-owned, contractor-operated.  Many of these systems may have been previously overlooked or mis-categorized, which could spur deeper scrutiny and increased costs.

Potential Contractor Opportunities

As agencies strive to improve they may look to industry experts for assistance in the following areas:

  • Procedure Development – Agencies will need to document the procedures for their officials to follow in order to perform effective oversight of contractors. While these efforts may be considered inherently governmental in nature, some agencies may seek the help of contracted experts to aid in solidifying such procedures. Expect agencies to maintain directive control over this process.
  • Independent Assessments – GAO found that five of the six agencies they studied used independent assessors for system reviews, as required by NIST, and this included contracting for these assessment services. There may be continued opportunities for contractors to find work in this area. Expect agency officials to verify that the selected assessor is independent.
  • Test Plan Development and Execution – While most agencies that GAO audited had developed test plans, almost none of them had effectively executed test plans. Here is another area where independent contracted services may be in demand.

Considering GAO’s recommendations focus on both procedures and policies – that agencies develop procedures for contractor oversight and that OMB clarify reporting instructions to agencies – it will take some time for agencies to fully address the concerns raised in the report.

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Originally published in the GovWin FIA Analysts Perspectives Blog. Follow me on Twitter @GovWinSlye.

Federal Busy Season – Which Agencies are Ramping Up to Spend in September?

August is here and that puts us right at the mid-point of the fourth and final quarter of the fiscal year – the federal “busy season.” But that doesn’t mean that half of this business is already accounted for. In fact, historical spending trends suggest that things are just ramping up for its climax in September and several agencies will have billions of dollars to spend on IT before they face expiring funds.

Recently, I showed how federal agency spending trends in Q4 accounted for an average of 39% of agency contracted IT spending for the year, translating into an average of $30 billion in IT products and services contracted during the fourth quarter. Yet, the spending is even more concentrated than that. Upon further analysis, we can see that federal contract spending is disproportionately large in September, the final month of the fiscal year. Agencies obligate 18% of their total contract dollars across all goods and services and 23% of their yearly contracted information technology spending in September alone. That works out to nearly 60% of Q4 IT contract spending and means that about $17.3 billion in IT is likely to be contracted in the month of September.

Twenty five federal departments and agencies account for about 99% of this IT spending. So which of these biggest spending departments and agencies will have the largest percentage of their IT dollars likely to go out next month? See the chart below.


Twelve of the 25 highest spending departments – roughly half – will obligate 25% or more of their FY 2014 IT contract dollars in September, based on a 5-year average. State and AID will obligate more than a third!  The FY 2009-2013 average September contract spending for these 12 agencies is provided below.


Again, we are looking at an average of over $17 billion in IT spending at these agencies in September. Not all of these funds will necessarily expire at the end of the fiscal year, but the historical spending data averaged over the last five years still supports the trend that these agencies will spend at or near these levels, as it reflects some of the spending impacts of recent trends like shifting and tightening budgets, program delays, and sequestration.

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Originally published in the GovWin FIA Analysts Perspectives Blog. Follow me on Twitter @GovWinSlye.

Energy Department Releases New Data Management Policy

August 4, 2014, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new effort to promote open data through access to DOE funded public research. Along with push for public access to information, the department is implementing a new policy for data management that takes effect October 1, 2014.

According to Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, “these new policies set the stage for increased innovation, commercial opportunities, and accelerated scientific breakthroughs.” Like other government agencies looking to tap into the data they generate, DOE recognizes a great potential for economic and intellectual value.  As Secretary Moniz noted, “increasing access to the results of research funded by the Department of Energy will enable researchers and entrepreneurs to capitalize on our substantial research and development investments.”

The department is implementing a new policy for data management for all research funding through the Office of Science effective October 1, 2014. According to the policy, all proposals for research funding will need to include a Data Management Plan. As outlined in a statement from the Office of Science, “data management involves all stages of the digital data life cycle including capture, analysis, sharing, and preservation.” These data management plans must meet requirements across areas like sharing and preservation, open data, resources, and protection.

Sharing and preservation: Plans must outline data collection, access, sharing, and storage. Explanation will be provided for any data excluded from sharing or preservation. For example, cost considerations or limitations related to data protection driving decisions not to share or preserve data need to be fully described. The minimum requirement for the plans is to describe how validation of research results will be facilitated.

Open data: Resulting research publications and supporting data is to be open, machine-readable, and publicly accessible. This includes chart data as well as figures and images. While supporting data may be made available as a supplement, the published research will need to identify how supporting data can be accessed.

Resources: Since the data will result from research efforts, the plans are expected to reference the information and data management resources used for the research and include any necessary facility approvals where additional resource requirements are anticipated.

Protection: Plans will account for sensitive data including confidentiality, personal privacy, Personally Identifiable Information, and U.S. national, homeland, and economic security.  They are also expected to address proprietary data and intellectual property rights. (There is no requirement to share proprietary data.) And, of course, the plans must align with applicable laws, regulations, and DOE policies.

Sponsoring programs (or sub-program) or solicitations may include additional requirements or review criteria. Vendors can expect these data management requirements to start appearing in funding solicitations and invitations this October. Other Energy Department research offices are expected to implement requirements for data management plans with in the next year. The full details of the requirements being rolled out by the Office of Science can be found on their website.

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Originally published in the GovWin FIA Analysts Perspectives Blog. Follow me on Twitter @FIAGovWin.

 

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