GovCon Updates of the Week Part 12

8/18/2021 - By Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund

White House Disappointed in $50M TMF Appropriation: Congress approved the largest appropriations-based addition to the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) since its inception, but the White House says it was hoping to get more. In early 2020, the TMF received a $1 billion boost as part of the second COVID-19 stimulus package. The fund serves as a central pool from which agencies can apply for loans to upgrade their legacy IT systems, which are often much needed.

The $1 billion cash infusion was a special event for the fund, designed to boost its ability to help agencies meet critical, timely technology needs, including tools needed to respond to the pandemic and remediate multiple major cybersecurity events. The Biden administration sought to keep the IT upgrade momentum rolling by requesting another $500 million, but the final bill from the House Appropriations Committee included only $50 million, which is 10 times less than the White House was hoping for.

The Office of Management and Budget released a statement following the announcement, stating that while the injection of $1 billion was a nice start, agencies have already requested more than twice that amount. “The administration appreciates the funding provided in the bill for the TMF and urges Congress to provide the full $500 million requested in the FY 2022 budget, which would support a more rapid transition of legacy systems and the adoption of more secure commercial technology,” the statement reads. “With $1 billion in seed funding appropriated through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the TMF Board has received more than 100 proposals from agencies totaling over $2.1 billion in requested funds, far exceeding the amount of resources available.”

The Financial Services and General Government bill now moves to the full House as part of a seven-bill minibus appropriations package. Contractors involved in the IT space should continue to monitor the bill’s trajectory as additional opportunities could emerge if more funds are appropriated.

For more information, please click this link.

Taking “Buy American” Even FARther: Earlier this month, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council published a proposed rule to update the FAR and implement Executive Order (EO) 14005, “Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers.” The EO, published on Jan. 25, 2021, was intended to promote the purchase of domestic goods to grow the domestic supply chain and ensure that America’s workers thrive. Specifically, the proposed rule would implement the following:

  • An increase to the current domestic content threshold, a plan for gradual increases to that threshold, and an alternate threshold for products that meet certain exceptions.
  • An increase to the price preference weighting for domestic products that are “critical” or comprised of critical components.
  • An additional domestic content reporting requirement for contractors, post-award.

The FAR Council also requested comments and feedback on several questions and recommendations on other topics relating to the proposed rule. The Made in America Office and FAR Council are holding a public meeting on Aug. 26, 2021 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. EDT, and interested parties need to register by end of day, Aug. 16, 2021. Comments are due Sept. 28, 2021 to be considered in writing the final rule.

For more information, please click this link and this link.

CISA Needs Your Help with its New Public-Private Partnership: To bolster cybersecurity planning, threat analysis, and defensive operations, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is partnering with cloud providers, cyber companies, and various other private sector partners to establish the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative.

According to CISA director Jen Easterly, the federal agencies and companies participating in this collaboration will work together to “share insights” and “create a common operating picture, a shared situational awareness of the threat environment, so that we understand it better to develop whole-of-nation comprehensive cyber defense plans to deal with the most significant threats to the nation to include significant threats to our critical infrastructure.” This group will also be tasked with exercising cyber defense initiatives and putting those plans into operation. The inception of this collaboration follows the government’s emboldened approach to combat increasing cyber threats following various high-profile hackings, including that of the Colonial Pipeline and Solar Winds.

Early participants in this collaboration include tech juggernauts like Amazon Web Services, AT&T, CrowdStrike, Mandiant, Google Cloud, Microsoft, Lumen Technologies, Palo Alto Networks and Verizon. In addition to these industry partners and various federal agencies, the collaboration will work with other partners including state and local governments, private sector entities, and owners and operators of critical information systems.

The inception of the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative presents a multitude of opportunities to current and prospective contractors. As this group continues to grow and expand, it can be expected that it will require input and support across various sectors and industries. As the group begins to exercise its cyber defense initiatives and putting those plans into operation, it will certainly require support from the contracting community.

For more information, please click this link.

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