GovCon Updates of the Week Part 3

4/15/2021 - By Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund

All Aboard the Modernization Train, Next Stop: State Department: The U.S. State Department is the latest passenger hopping on the IT modernization train, as reflected in a request for information (RFI) published Monday, March 29, on  Many of the department’s contract vehicles are nearing the end of their periods of performance, and with that comes an opportunity to shift the agency’s IT acquisition strategy.  “IRM [Information Resources Management Office] is currently undergoing a reorganization and is pivoting to a project-based mentality instead of a technology-based one,” the agency states in the RFI.

Currently, IRM purchases IT services through a host of contracts and has been focused on purchasing specific technologies.  However, the proposed $4 billion vehicle aims to shift this focus to a project-based, problem-solving strategy, with an emphasis on follow-on acquisitions.  Further, IRM officials propose organizing the new contract around 11 functional areas, including: data center services; compute services; services for storage; services for networks; services for platforms; services for output; services for end-user solutions; application; delivery; security and compliance; and IT management.

The agency asked for feedback on what industry would like to see in the resulting award(s), including contract ceiling, contract vehicles, composition, proposed number of awards and existing contract vehicles, and responses were due last week.  As such, interested potential offerers should continue to monitor and the GovCon Week Ahead for news on potential solicitations.

For more information, please click this link.

Love “IT” When a Plan Comes Together: Earlier in April, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Michael Brown for the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (A&S).  This position is responsible for overseeing acquisition innovation; recruiting, developing and retaining a diverse A&S workforce; and responsible for building a safe, secure and resilient defense industrial base, which Congress and Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks seem to be most concerned about.

Brown, previously the CEO at two large, publicly traded tech companies, is currently the director of the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU).  Since 2018, he has led DIU through bringing 26 new capabilities to the warfighter and introduced 70 first-time vendors to the Department of Defense (DoD).  Further, Mr. Brown has also authored Pentagon studies on China’s participation in the U.S. venture ecosystem and led efforts to diversify the U.S. supply chain with U.S. technology.

This nomination further drives home the current administration’s goals and objectives included in the Made in America Executive Order and reinforced by the Defense Critical Supply Chain Task Force activation by the House Armed Services Committee.  The DoD is continually looking for ways to increase the involvement of domestic tech companies and recognizes that the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and its DoD supplements can make it undesirable for these companies to work with the government.  Mr. Brown’s nomination would give the Biden administration someone familiar with both sides of the coin and would put him in a position to start addressing policies and regulations that have effectively been barriers to entry for years.

For more information, please click this link.

New Roads on the Horizon? Warmer weather, lighter days, inevitable sneezes and CRASH, pothole season …  Spring is officially upon us.  In an effort to combat those dreaded potholes, President Biden has unveiled a massive infrastructure proposal to the tune of nearly $2 trillion.  All jokes aside, this proposal, dubbed a “once-in-a-generation investment,” is designed to provide the funds necessary to modernize many facets of infrastructure ranging from high-speed broadband and school construction to affordable housing and, yes, overhauling those dreaded potholes, among other issues, on U.S. roads and bridges.

The metrics for this proposal, officially named the American Jobs Plan, are staggering and include, but are not limited to:

  • $621 billion for transportation infrastructure including roads, bridges and rail services
  • $213 billion for creating over 2 million affordable homes and commercial spaces
  • $111 billion for the nation’s piping systems (think drinkable water, wastewater and storm drains)
  • $180 billion for technology and climate science R&D

To pay for the massive $2 trillion price tag, the Biden administration has proposed increasing the corporate tax rate, which is currently at an all-time low of 21% following the 2017 tax cuts, to 28% and eliminating various tax loopholes. With these efforts, the administration projects the $2 trillion price of the American Jobs Plan to be fully paid off in 15 years.

As expected, this plan has been met with opposition in the House and Senate.  Republicans consider the plan to be too expensive following multiple rounds of COVID stimulus and some Democrats do not think the plan is big enough. Interestingly, both Democrats and Republicans are showing support for an infrastructure improvement plan; however, the size and extent of the plan is up for debate and will likely change from the current proposal.

As such, it appears that an infrastructure improvement bill is in the pipeline at some level. Contractors in the construction, technology and other related sectors should stay on top of the American Jobs Plan and what opportunities may arise from the proposal.

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

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