Tag Archives: government policy

300 Military Bases With Possible Toxic Forever Contamination

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A ir Force fire protection specialists douse a simulated ship fire with foam during a training exercise at the Military Sealift Command Training Center East in Freehold, N.J., on Dec. 5, 2013. (Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht/Air National Guard)

MILITARY TIMES

Hundreds of military installations have either known or likely water contamination caused by runoff from firefighting foam used in response to vehicle and aircraft accidents, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Using Defense Department data, the organization built an interactive map of 305 sites, which are found in all 50 states. Each map dot opens up to information and links on perfluorooctane sulfonate or perfluorooctanoic acid, known as PFAS.

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“Of these sites, 138 have not been previously identified on EWG’s map of known PFAS contamination at military bases, civilian airports and industrial sites,” according to a Tuesday new release. “In addition, 42 of these sites were not included on a list of 401 locations the Pentagon gave to Congress of active and former installations where PFAS contamination was known or suspected.”

An interactive Environmental Working Group map lays out PFAS contamination across 305 military sites. (EWG)

An interactive Environmental Working Group map lays out PFAS contamination across 305 military sites. (EWG)

The map went live the day after the House and Senate armed services committees finalized a compromise defense authorization bill for 2020, which includes provisions to approaching the PFAS issue going forward.

Expected to see a vote in the House on Wednesday, the law would prohibit the use of PFAS-laden firefighting foam after Oct. 1, 2024, and immediately ban any use of the foam outside of emergency situations.

While the bill dropped a provision that would have brought PFAS-contaminated bases under the federal Superfund law, providing funding and a requirement to clean them up, the NDAA pushes the Pentagon to work with state governments to start clean up using funds from the Defense Environmental Remediation Account.

It would also require that military firefighters are testing for PFAS levels in their blood, as the chemicals do not break down over time and are known to build up in the human body.

In the mean time, the Air Force has been testing a system that might be able to remove PFAS from ground water, and DoD is funding research into a new firefighting foam.”

https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2019/12/11/here-are-more-than-300-bases-with-possible-toxic-forever-chemical-contamination/

Stay Informed At The Center For Defense Information

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Pentagon Bills – Photo by POGO

THE PROJECT ON GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT (POGO)”

The goal of the Center for Defense Information (CDI)  is to secure far more effective and ethical military forces at significantly lower cost by seeking to achieve the elusive goal of meaningful Pentagon reform by fostering a fundamentally better informed public.”

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“Questions such as the size and nature of the defense budget, especially its many offenses to the American taxpayer, a Congress more inclined to perform real oversight—rather than the pretense, and affordable, effective weapons that service the needs of the men and women in our armed forces—rather than the gluttony of selfish elements of corporations and a dysfunctional political system.

CDI has also sought to probe the origins and costs—human and material—of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere so that such tragedies can be avoided in the future. “

https://www.pogo.org/projects/center-for-defense-information/

New Army Policy On Intellectual Property

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The Army’s new policy, tries to balance the government’s priority to maintain U.S. military competitive advantage by leveraging advanced American technologies while also allowing inventors and companies to fairly benefit from their intellectual work.

Emphasis on four tenets to effectively value IP rights. They include: opening communication; early planning and development of customized IP strategies; negotiation of custom data and licenses; and early negotiation to secure competitive prices.

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“Both the government and the defense industry strive to provide warfighters with the best capabilities, but the government must act in the best interest of taxpayers and the defense industry in the best interest of corporate shareholders. The tension between controlling costs and increasing revenues creates a battle over who benefits from IP.

The legal protections surrounding IP establish boundaries and terms for its use. Protections, like trademarks, patents, copyrights and trade secrets, give entrepreneurs the legal security necessary to earn a return on their investments, making them a lucrative asset.

Industry faces two major challenges when selling intellectual property to the government. The first stems from the government’s rights to use, modify, adapt, disseminate, reproduce or disclose IP. The government’s rights in these scenarios directly depend on how much funding it provided for development.

Under some circumstances — falling under the right to disclose or disseminate — the government may share acquired data with third parties. These third parties sometimes include direct competitors of the IP-generating company.

The second challenge concerns the protection of exclusionary rights inherent to IP. The Bayh-Dole Act requires government contractors to disclose inventions derived from federal funding, leaving contractors vulnerable to a government decision to exercise its “march-in” rights. Under the act, when a contractor breaches their obligation to commercialize a patent, the government may effectively seize control of the intellectual property and grant licenses to third parties. Although the government reportedly has never exercised this option, contractors worry about being the first victim.

The government also faces significant intellectual property challenges. The biggest of these challenges is “vendor lock,” which occurs when vendor-controlled IP precludes competition for sustainment or upgrade contracts. When the government fails to obtain the rights to certain key parts of a new capability’s intellectual property, it loses the ability to work with other contractors to drive better sustainment deals or develop innovative upgrades, which drives up costs and limits capability development.

Another challenge arises when the government lacks an intellectual property strategy at the beginning of a major defense acquisition program. This lack of strategy can result either in the government accepting a costly long-term contract with a single company or vendor, or the government requiring ownership of the entire technical base as part of the request for proposals. Lack of strategy frequently results in the government acquiring more rights and information than it needs.

In a discussion June 18 about the new policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Alexis Lasselle Ross, the Army’s deputy assistant secretary for strategy and acquisition reform, acknowledged this misguided practice prioritizes acquisition officer ease and comfort over program savviness. IP control overreach can carry excessive financial costs and disincentivize industry innovation, she said.

To visualize the tension between the two sides, it may be helpful to envision a spectrum of intellectual property rights. On one side, the IP is completely proprietary to the innovator, and on the other side, the government owns everything. Innovators and government have traditionally begun negotiations on opposite sides of the rights spectrum. The new policy seeks to incentivize finding middle ground, with focus placed on early negotiation and custom licenses.

The heavy focus placed on early negotiation and developing custom strategies and licenses will benefit both the Army and industry. By incentivizing program managers to determine intellectual property strategies early in the procurement process, the Army addresses its problem of waiting too long and paying too much. The Army will need to think about what it needs to build and sustain capabilities before developing its strategy for acquiring the requisite IP. Providing a space for planning and negotiations early in the acquisition process also helps to reduce innovators’ risk of losing intellectual property on the back end of the contract, reversing the chilling effect on innovators from the government’s current practice of generally requesting every piece of data.

The policy also encourages negotiating custom data and licenses so both government and industry have transparent understanding of data rights and obligations from program inception. In some cases, especially when thinking about competitive sustainment and upgrade potential, the rights required by the government will be significant. In other instances, the need for extensive intellectual property ownership by the government will be much less. Either scenario requires clearly defining agreements reached during contract negotiation, ultimately ensuring both government and industry understand how rights will be divided moving forward.

The Army’s new intellectual property policy creates repeatable procedures that build predictability into the acquisition process to deliver better capabilities at lower cost, benefiting both government and companies.”

https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2019/8/16/ndia-policy-points-army-takes-on-ip-rights-conundrum

3rd Party Nonprofit Will Be Used For Management Of DOD Contractor Cyber Certification Standards

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Image: “CPAjounal.com

FEDSCOOP

The Department of Defense is on the hunt for a third-party nonprofit to manage the forthcoming Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification standards that will become the new requirements for defense contractors’ cybersecurity.

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“The CMMC was announced last month by Katie Arrington, special assistant to the assistant secretary of defense acquisition for cyber. Arrington gave greater details on the plan in a Wednesday webcast produced by the Professional Services Council.

The new details shed light on the third-party certification system, which will be managed by a nonprofit company in the coming months. Meeting CMMC level guidelines will be a required step for contractors who wish to do business with the DOD.

“We are making security a part of that discussion,” Arrington said. “In fact, it is paramount to that discussion.”

The CMMC will have five levels to suit all contractors — from companies that manufacture boots to advanced technical contractors. By January 2020, Arrington hopes whichever third-party company is selected will begin its work for certifying and training contractors.

The new certification levels are designed to help small businesses with large innovation potential but have long struggled with cybersecurity. When nation-state actors like China and advanced persistent threats go after small businesses, “it is very hard to defend,” Arrington said.

The CMMC will also add a cybersecurity team to the Defense Contracting Management Agency. The team will respond to cyberthreats in the defense industry and try to help coordinate better practices across the public and private sector. The new team comes as top officials in the Defense Department push to consolidate redundancies across Fourth Estate agencies such as the DCMA.”

Like Post Vietnam – US Army Is Trying to Bury the Lessons of the Iraq War

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“DEFENSE ONE”
BY FRANK SOBCHAKCO-AUTHOR, “THE U.S. ARMY IN THE IRAQ WAR”

“Similar to how the Pentagon abandoned its doctrine of fighting counterinsurgencies and irregular conflicts in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, today’s military has shifted away from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

By scuttling plans to help its leaders understand what went wrong, the service is turning a blind eye to insights of enduring relevance.”

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“U.S. troops are still in Iraq — not to mention Syria, Afghanistan, and various African countries — to ward off or put down insurgencies. Within the national security apparatus, however, the Iraq War is old news.  

As has been explained to me by senior officers who are still on active duty, the conventional wisdom today is that our military has moved on — and in an odd redux, they note that we have returned to the philosophy of 1973.

Instead of preparing to fight insurgents and guerrillas, our security establishment has refocused almost exclusively on the realm of great power conflict — in their parlance, peer or near-peer competitors such as Russia or China. 

This trend away from “small wars” has been so intense that it contributed to Army’s resistance to publishing its own Iraq War Study, a project that I helped lead to its conclusion in 2016. During one of the periods that the Army was withholding publication of the completed manuscripts, a colonel in the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army’s office told me that the opposition was occurring because a study on the Iraq War did not fit the official narrative of the Army “returning to decisive action,” the jargon for “fighting other great powers like Russia with tanks, artillery, and airstrikes.” In January, the study’s two volumes were at last published online. But as a result of this ideological realignment, funds that had been allocated to spread the war’s lessons — to publish hard copies of the Iraq War Study, distribute them across the Army, and hold professional development sessions to foster discussion in the officer corps — were reallocated and never replaced. 

Instead of preparing to fight insurgents and guerrillas, our security establishment has refocused almost exclusively on the realm of great power conflict — in their parlance, peer or near-peer competitors such as Russia or China. 

This trend away from “small wars” has been so intense that it contributed to Army’s resistance to publishing its own Iraq War Study, a project that I helped lead to its conclusion in 2016. During one of the periods that the Army was withholding publication of the completed manuscripts, a colonel in the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army’s office told me that the opposition was occurring because a study on the Iraq War did not fit the official narrative of the Army “returning to decisive action,” the jargon for “fighting other great powers like Russia with tanks, artillery, and airstrikes.” In January, the study’s two volumes were at last published online. But as a result of this ideological realignment, funds that had been allocated to spread the war’s lessons — to publish hard copies of the Iraq War Study, distribute them across the Army, and hold professional development sessions to foster discussion in the officer corps — were reallocated and never replaced. 

Such resistance is deeply unsettling. The Operation Iraqi Freedom Study Group was originally commissioned because some of the Army’s senior leaders believed that a failure to learn the lessons of the Vietnam War had led us to repeat the errors of that conflict in Iraq. Army efforts to investigate what went wrong in Vietnam were haphazard and the limited studies that it commissioned were incomplete and uncritical. Lives were lost and funds were wasted re-learning the lessons of guerrilla and irregular warfare as a result of that omission, providing a difficult lesson on the importance of introspection. We cannot afford to make the same mistake again.

While we do not know whether our next war will be of the same category that we fought in Iraq, it would be folly to expunge all of its lessons. As the world continues to migrate to cities and pressures from failed or failing states push populations toward armed insurrection, it is quite possible that our next conflict could be another irregular war fought against guerrillas and insurgents. Even if we do end up facing a peer or near-peer competitor as the defense establishment is predicting, many of the lessons of the Iraq War still ring true. If we find ourselves facing such a foe, it would be highly likely that our opponents would fight us with a blend of conventional warfare—using ships, tanks, and warplanes—as well as with irregular tactics such as we faced in Iraq and Afghanistan. Blending both types of warfare, which has been called “hybrid warfare” or “conflict in the grey zone” enables our enemies to counter some of our conventional advantages asymmetrically, and challenge us symmetrically with forces that are on par with our capabilities. The use of paramilitaries or militias rather than uniformed soldiers, ambushing logistics convoys with improvised explosive devices, and hiding soldiers and resources amongst the civilian population- all staples of the Iraq conflict- are tactics that have also been used by Russia and other states because they make attribution and retaliation more difficult. It would be a dangerous proposition to hope that nation-state competitors we face in the future have not studied the war in Iraq and adapted their tactics. 

We should not ignore our failures in Iraq out of embarrassment or shame. Rather than repeat the error of not learning from our mistakes after the Vietnam War, we should learn from the conflict in Iraq and capture those lessons so that our armed forces are capable of responding to a variety of threats and conflicts. Restoring the original distribution and dissemination plan for the Iraq War study would go far in communicating the importance of assimilating, discussing, and debating the lessons of a conflict whose consequences we will have to endure for a long time. Learning hard lessons and internalizing them is what our leaders owe to the members of our military as well as the citizens of our country.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Frank Sobchak is a PhD candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a retired U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel who co-authored “The U.S. Army in the Iraq War,” the U.S. government’s longest and most detailed study of the Iraq conflict

https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2019/03/us-army-trying-bury-lessons-iraq-war/155403/

Evidence-Based Policy Law Sets Stage For Upcoming Federal Data Strategy

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Image: Commission on Evidence-Based Policy Making

“FEDERAL NEWS NETWORK”

“The Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act. also contains the OPEN Government Data Act, which requires all non-sensitive government data to be made available in open and machine-readable formats by default.

The bill package stems from more than 20 recommendations the bipartisan Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking made in its September 2017 report.”

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“Katharine Abraham, a former chairwoman of the commission and a current co-chair of the Evidence-Based Policymaking Initiative, said the new law takes some “very important first steps” to putting the commission recommendations into practice.

“What it’s really about is outlining some core expectations for activities that should be a routine part of what the government does in managing its policies and programs,” Abraham said in a Jan. 16 conference call organized by the Bipartisan Policy Center.

The new law requires agencies to appoint a chief evaluation officer, whose job will involve asking key questions about the effectiveness of agency programs, and finding ways to measure their effectiveness.

“Those are folks that collectively will provide leadership for managing data, and then making data useful and used to inform policy,” Nick Hart, the director of BPC’s Evidence Project, said in a Jan. 15 interview.

Agencies will also have to appoint chief data officers to oversee their inventory of data and determine how best to share that data out to the public. A handful of agencies — including the Defense Department, Air Force, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Immigration and Customs Enforcement — already have chief data officers.

Robert Shea, a commission member and former Office of Management and Budget executive under the George W. Bush administration, said some agencies may have to make some new hires to get a chief data officer with skills required under the law.

“I think some agencies are pretty mature in this regard, and have good, skilled and effective leaders in place, in a position like that. Others are a little bit further behind and will need to look outside to get that capability in-house,” Shea said in an interview Friday.

Within the next six months, the Office of Personnel Management must create a new job series for program evaluation officials.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has assembled more than 50 data fellows from various agencies who spend about a quarter of their time developing a federal data strategy.

“Their strategy is going to go a long way toward implementing specific provisions in the law,” Ted McCann, a BPC fellow and former policy adviser to former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), said during the conference call.

Nancy Potok, the federal chief statistician and one of the co-leads on the federal data strategy, also serves as a member of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking.

“I think you’ll see a lot of the principles and recommendations of the commission embedded in that [federal data] strategy,” Shea said. “That is, that government ought to be sharing data to the extent possible, so long as they can do it securely to accelerate and reduce the cost of evaluations of programs.”

OMB expects to release a one-year draft action plan for the data strategy this month.”