GovCon Updates of the Week Part 4

4/21/2021 - By Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund

Big Spending Increases for FY22, But Maybe Not Where You Would Expect:

The Biden administration has officially released its 2022 budget request, and federal civilian agencies—not defense agencies—are seeing a record double-digit increase. This budget proposal would see $769 billion go to non-defense discretionary spending, a 16% increase over the 2021 budget, and $753 billion go to defense programs, a 1.7% increase over the 2021 budget.

The full budget has yet to be released, but from the preview the Biden administration has provided, this request would see nearly all civilian agencies receiving notable spending increases. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • The Department of Health and Human Services receiving a 23.5% funding boost
  • The Department of Interior receiving a 16% increase
  • The Environmental Protection Agency receiving a 21.3% boost
  • The Department of Commerce receiving a 28% increase
  • And the Department of Education could expect to see a 41% increase over current funding levels

In addition to these civilian agencies, other agencies like the General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Homeland Security can all expect to see millions, or even billions, in increases to their current funding thresholds.

The details currently provided are only a brief preview of the administration’s full 2022 budget request. The full proposal is expected to be released in the months ahead. Although the budget is not yet finalized, contractors can expect to see an influx of activity, especially from civilian agencies, in Government FY22.

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Where Do You See Yourself in Four Years?

At 15% ... The answer to everyone’s least favorite interview question is rarely expressed as a percentage, but the Biden administration is making an exception in the case of small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs) and the percentage of federal contracts awarded to them.

The goal is that, by 2025, 15% of contracts will be awarded to SDBs, and the requested fiscal year 2022 budget would allocate an additional 9.4% to the Small Business Administration (SBA) to staff up its contracting programs. Further, it would also allocate an additional $30 million to the SBA to continue to grow its Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, which is more than double the normal funding levels.

As anticipated, the authors of the budget document ensured that it is consistent with the Biden administration’s commitments to increasing small business involvement in federal contracting.  They describe the rationale for the requested increases as steps that will be taken to expand the number of opportunities for small businesses owned by those who are socially and economically disadvantaged and “expand the geographic and demographic reach of the innovation programs, enhance outreach and training efforts, support the development of innovation hubs across the nations, and help ensure America’s small businesses stay at the cutting edge of innovation.”

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U.S. Army Looking into Future Biological Threat Detection:

As the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the U.S. Army is looking into new biosurveillance systems that can help to predict and detect future biological threats. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, on behalf of the Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center, released a request for information (RFI) on Monday, April 5, 2021, expressing interest in available commercial off-the-shelf “disease-forecasting tools or epidemiological decision support systems.”

The RFI describes the system technologies of interest as “capable of providing early indications and warnings of potential emerging biological threats and will assess technology capability to identify, accumulate and synthesize relevant data from open sources into timely and operationally actionable information.” The bio surveillance systems of interest are for several data types, including “infectious diseases, zoonotic diseases, plant pathogens and surrogate secondary information, excess mortality, increase in hospitalizations, bio security threat information, surge in prescriptions, etc.”

The RFI includes several required capabilities such as timeliness and ability to identify and report potentially significant infection outbreaks, ability to leverage artificial intelligence within the system, effectiveness of web-scraping and translation methods, and ease of use. Additionally, the system should have the ability to incorporate “into a broader integrated bio- and health surveillance architecture for Department of Defense and interagency application”.

Responses to the RFI are due by Friday, April 30, 2021, and interested parties can view and respond to the RFI on the beta.SAM website.

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