News briefs

Winners, losers in House's DHS bill

A House subcommittee approved a $36.3 billion spending bill for the Homeland Security Department, which is $2.1 billion more than the Bush administration requested.

Winners under the bill include the Federal Emergency Management Agency ($7.1 billion), state and local grant programs ($3.1 billion), and port and rail security grant programs ($400 million for each area).

The bill would reduce funding for the Coast Guard's Integrated Deepwater System to $698 million ? down from $1.1 billion this year. Other programs losing spending power include science and technology, headquarters management, transportation threat assessment and credentialing.

Contractors become DOD mainstay

The Defense Department has increased its reliance on contractors to maintain operations in the past decade because its employees have been pulled away on military duty, a new report states.

Spending was fairly level from fiscal 1995 to fiscal 2000, but the amount of money going to the private sector skyrocketed from fiscal 2000 to fiscal 2005. During that time, DOD's operations and maintenance costs increased by 57 percent, from $133.4 billion to $209.5 billion, the Government Accountability Office report states.

DHS calls for IT security reports

The Homeland Security Department will award as much as $4.5 million for research under its new Cyber Security Research Development Center program to learn how to protect data from the latest threats and intrusions.

The Science and Technology Directorate is seeking white papers from industry, government labs and academia on topics such as protecting against botnets and malware, ensuring routing security, and detecting and managing insider threats.
Submissions are due June 27.

FEMA: Communications a priority

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is beefing up its emergency communications capabilities and logistics systems to prepare for the 2007 hurricane season, which begins June 1, a Government Accountability Office report states.

FEMA is improving capabilities such as emergency communications, logistics, situational awareness, evacuations, search and rescue, and mass medical care, GAO said.

Coast Guard wants its money back

The Coast Guard said it is seeking a refund for eight 123-foot patrol boats converted under its Integrated Deepwater System procurement. The eight boats were permanently decommissioned in April after the Coast Guard contended they displayed significant structural flaws.

Officials sent a letter to Integrated Coast Guard Systems Inc., a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp., saying they were revoking earlier acceptance of the boats, paving the way for a refund request.

The requested refund amount has not been released, but the estimated cost of the boats was $30 million to $80 million.

DHS plan lacks key elements

The Homeland Security Department's most recent enterprise architecture is missing key pieces and is of limited usefulness, a new report from the Government Accountability Office states.

DHS rushed the enterprise architecture into development without adequately consulting users, creating a transition plan or accounting for how it would fit with other technology investments, GAO said.

Contracting: Out of hand?

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) continues to assail agency procurement practices, calling for increased oversight of contractors by federal employees.

Waxman, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said private-sector workers have become a shadow government, and agencies need to hire more people to manage them.

FEMA forms new incident teams

The Federal Emergency Management Agency expects by Sept. 30 to deploy four newly created Incident Management Assistance Teams to bring expertise and communications equipment quickly to major disaster scenes.

The new teams will each be led by a credentialed federal coordinating officer and have permanent, full-time staff. The teams will coordinate with FEMA's Emergency Response Teams and the Federal Incident Response Support Teams.

Small businesses succeed in A-76

Almost three-quarters of the companies winning contracts under the Office of Management and Budget's Circular A-76 are small companies, a new Small Business Administration report states.

From fiscal 2001 through the third quarter of fiscal 2006, 795 companies won contracts under A-76 competitions. Of those, 567 were small businesses, or about 71 percent.

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