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News briefs: Week of Nov. 18

Nov. 17, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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Competition begins on $6 billion DHS cyber contract

The Department of Homeland Security last week released the first request for quote under its $6 billion continuous monitoring contract, according to industry sources.

The RFQ is for cyber tools and equipment, not services. The goal is to increase or extend software licenses that agencies already have in place, at a discounted price, said James Yeager, director of federal civilian sales at McAfee.

As of last month, 12 of the 17 vendors on the contract included McAfee products as part of their tool set available to agencies.

The RFQ will provide tools for 33 departments and agencies and range in value between $37.5 million and $60 million, Yeager said. One or multiple vendors will be selected based on lowest-price, technically acceptable bids. An award is expected within 60 days.

All of the large civilian agencies have signed on to use the contract, which was awarded in August, said John Streufert, director of DHS’ Federal Network Resilience division.

The General Services Administration awarded the blanket purchase agreement on behalf of DHS.

“Our objective is to form up and choose those tools of best value and begin deploying them across some 120 of the largest dot-gov organizations,” Streufert said. He noted that the first proposals would be for commodities, but he expects task orders for services will follow soon after.

Subsequent task orders under the contract are expected in the first half of 2014, Yeager said.

DHS has already spent some of the program’s $185 million fiscal 2013 funds to develop the procurement, Streufert said in a separate interview.

Some agencies are looking to get a more competitive price for existing scanning tools, procure more software licenses or replace tools that didn’t function well in their IT environments, Streufert said.

Bill would limit pension options for new hires

Newly hired federal employees would not be eligible for traditional pensions under a bill reintroduced last week by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. and two colleagues.

The measure, which would also apply to new members of Congress, would end the defined benefit portion of the Federal Employees Retirement System for workers who join the government starting six months after enactment, according to a news release from Burr’s office.

They could still participate in the Thrift Savings Plan, which matches up to 5 percent of employee contributions.

“Right now, federal government workers receive far more generous retirement benefits than private sector employees,” Burr said in the release. For taxpayers, he said, the cost is “unsustainable.”

Current federal employees and retirees would not be affected. Co-sponsoring the bill are Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.

Commerce embarks on new push to boost exports

The Commerce Department will undertake fresh efforts to boost exports, ensure that job training program meets employer needs, and help businesses and communities make better use of government data, Secretary Penny Pritzker announced last week under an agenda dubbed “Open for Business.”

While the existing National Export Initiative has already achieved “impressive results,” Pritzker said in a speech, the new effort will focus on broadening the base of companies that pursue foreign markets.

Besides working to bolster the effectiveness of job training efforts, the department is also pursuing a public-private partnership to help entrepreneurs make use of climate and weather data produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, she said.

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