Adversaries outpace US in cyber war; acquisition still too slow

We are certainly behind right now. We are chasing our adversary, for sure,” one of the Air Force’s top cyber warriors, Col. Dean Hullings, told an audience of about 350 here at the National Space Symposium‘s one-day cyber event.

Hullings, chief of Air Force Space Command’s cyber superiority division, said the US is behind countries he declined to name when I asked him later (OK, we all know it’s China and Russia and Israel and … ) both in defense and in offense. This may be part of the reason recently retired Gen. Keith Alexander, former head of the National Security Agency and Cyber Command, poured so much money and passion into offensive cyber capabilities.

Hullings was not alone in his assessment of the state of the US government’s cyber capabilities. The US government lags far behind the private sector, Tina Harrington, head of the NRO’s Signals Intelligence Directorate, said later at the conference.

“This is an area where we are following you guys. We have been behind you guys for most of the last two decades,” Harrington said. Her comments are especially striking, given the bleeding edge technology the NRO traditionally deploys and its supposed strong commitment to ground stations and its communications networks over the last decade.

Keep reading this article at: http://breakingdefense.com/2014/05/adversaries-outpace-us-in-cyber-war-acquisition-still-too-slow/

Defense intel agency eyes TurboTax-type software to run acquisitions

The Defense Intelligence Agency would like to find simple, TurboTax-like software to provide “cradle to grave acquisition support.”

The Virginia Contracting Activity, which runs DIA procurements, said it wanted a knowledge-based system modeled on TurboTax to help manage acquisitions, according to a notice posted Thursday to the Federal Business Opportunities contracting website.

Eventually the software should support the entire intelligence community — including the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office and the FBI — “to consolidate our limited and dwindling resources with the added benefit of improving support to all our supported customers,” DIA said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/defense/2013/07/defense-intel-agency-eyes-turbotax-type-software-run-acquisitions/65909/ 

UPDATE – July 9, 2013 – The Defense Intelligence Agency withdrew this solicitation with the following notice posted on FBO on July 8, 2013: “This notice is cancelled in its entirety.”  See https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=32d3f22b76f482d3e19c7adf7cb70700&_cview=0 

 

 

Resource centers boost competition for secret contracts

Restricted websites similar to the Federal Business Opportunities site are boosting competition for sensitive national security procurements, showing that competition is possible in the mysterious world, according to a report.

The National Reconnaissance Office hosts the Acquisition Research Center, which was developed for intelligence community procurements. It limits potential contractors to about 1,200 registered firms that are already cleared to work in a secure environment and have a workforce with security clearances.

“An NRO senior procurement official described this system as a proprietary classified version of FedBizOpps,” the Government Accountability Office wrote in a report released Jan. 13, 2012. GAO was reviewing competition for Defense Department contracts for national security needs.

Along with NRO, the National Security Agency has a business registry database. It provides industry with a central place for acquisition information. NSA officials use it for market research as a way to distribute documents to partners and other companies. All companies that are interested in doing business with NSA must be registered in the system. As of October 2010, the database included about 9,300 companies, GAO reported.

The Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, both of which are within the Defense Department, have made arrangements to use the systems.

GAO compared their contracts awarded under an acquisition rule allowing particular agencies to exempt certain national security contracts from a full-and-open competition. Because of the acquisition centers, NSA and NRO showed higher levels of competition compared to the DOD military departments, which don’t use the databases.

Annually, for NRO and NSA, competition for contracts ranged from 27 percent to 70 percent of total spending, GAO wrote, based on the information the agencies provided.

On the other hand, GAO found much less competition after analyzing procurement data on about 11,300 DOD national security contracts from fiscal 2007 through fiscal 2010, which equaled $2 billion. Military departments received more than one bid on only 16 percent of all contracts and task orders purchased under a national security exemption rule.

Defense officials noted three obstacles for their low percentage of competition.

  • Few contractors with clearances.
  • Constraints on soliciting new vendors.
  • Few tools to do market research.

In response to the report, DOD officials said they would assess the tools that the intelligence community has to do market research and consider giving defense agencies access to the databases.

About the Author: Matthew Weigelt is a senior writer covering acquisition and procurement for Federal Computer Week. This article apperaed on Jan. 17, 2012 at http://fcw.com/articles/2012/01/17/national-security-acquisition-resource-center.aspx.