Tag Archives: Statesmanship in Washington

No Protection for IC Whistle Blower Contractors

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(Photo: Mike Mozart / Flickr)

“POGO”

“The restoration of Intelligence Community (IC) contractor whistle blower rights would help safeguard billions of taxpayer dollars in government contracts, grants, and reimbursements annually.

“Snowden:  “I had read the laws. I knew that there were no whistle blower protections.”

Snowden’s disclosure to the media is a perfect example of why intelligence contractors need a mechanism to safely disclose suspected waste, fraud, and abuse.

Three years after Edward Snowden’s leaks, it appears that everyone has an opinion about him—traitor, hero, or somewhere in between. However, there is one undeniable fact surrounding Snowden’s circumstances that has been misreported by Congress and the Executive Branch far too many times: the Intelligence Community (IC) contractor would have had almost no protections had he come forward through proper channels.

Sure, Snowden could have gone to his supervisors and disclosed his concerns. However, had that supervisor retaliated against Snowden by firing him or demoting him, he would have had no protections because he was an IC contractor. In the absence of adequate protections, IC contractors have only two alternatives to almost certain retaliation: 1) remain silent observers of wrongdoing, or 2) make anonymous leaks.

This has not always been the case though. In fact, IC contractors enjoyed the gold standard of whistleblower protections for four years, between 2008 and 2012.

The NDAA for fiscal year 2008 contained temporary provisions that allowed all Department of Defense (DoD) contractors, including those at the National Security Agency (NSA), to enforce their whistleblower rights through district court jury trials. Additionally, in 2009, comprehensive whistleblower protections were enacted for all government contract employees paid with stimulus funds, including other IC agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency. Contrary to predictions that contractor whistleblowers would flood the courts, only 25 cases were filed from 2008 through 2012 under the DoD contractor provision (including from the intelligence community).

This whistleblower shield was so successful in deterring contractor waste and abuse that the Council of Inspectors General for Integrity and Efficiency proposed a permanent expansion for all government contractors. In 2012, McCaskill introduced a whistleblower protection amendment for all government contractors that won bipartisan Senate approval in the fiscal year 2013 NDAA.

However, during that NDAA’s closing conference committee negotiations, whistleblower rights were extended only to contractors outside of the intelligence community. Preexisting rights for IC contractors were also removed, despite a proven track record that the law was working as intended and no evidence that the law had any adverse impacts on national security during its five-year lifespan.

To better protect taxpayer dollars, our country and Americans’ privacy, Congress must restore whistleblower protections for intelligence contractors and stop feeding the false narrative that such protections exist.”

http://www.pogo.org/blog/2016/09/protect-whistleblowers-ic-contractors.html

 

 

Fed Year-End Spending Spree Needs to Change

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EDITOR’S NOTE:  We have often discussed the inefficient one year budget cycle of the US Government and recommend changes.   The One Year Budget Cycle Must Go.  Robert F. Hale  was comptroller and chief financial officer at the Defense Department from 2009 until 2014. As you will see in his opinion below, he heartily agrees.

Robert Hale

Robert Hale


“BREAKING DEFENSE”

“WHY DOD’s YEAR-END SPENDING NEEDS TO CHANGE”

“As the end of the fiscal year approaches at the Department of Defense (DoD), organizations are working hard to spend all the funds which are available for use only during the current fiscal year.

The pithy rationale for these actions: “Use it or lose it.”

We need to find practical ways to apply the brakes to year-end spending so that DoD funds only its highest-priority needs.

DoD spending spikes sharply during the final week of the fiscal year.  (To be technically correct, by “spending” I am referring to entering into contracts or otherwise obligating funds.) In a 2010 report researchers from Harvard and Stanford Universities showed that, based on data for the years 2004 to 2009, final-week spending at DoD was more than four times higher than the average weekly spending during the rest of the year.  Similar trends occurred at other federal agencies.

The spike doesn’t necessarily mean that year-end funds are wasted.  Many year-end funds buy construction-related goods and services, office equipment, and IT equipment and services. These items are needed, but they do not directly support the most critical DoD mission needs, such as training and military readiness.  Moreover, research on federal IT spending suggests that final-week purchases are of lower quality than those made during the rest of the year, and I suspect the same finding applies to other categories of spending.  The surge in spending may also lead overworked contracting officers to push out lower-quality contracts.

Making operating funds available only for one year works against good resource allocation in another way. Resource managers must estimate forthcoming bills for services in the final month of the fiscal year (for example, final bills for electricity and water) and obligate the funds before year’s end. They have to estimate on the high side because, if their estimate is low, they risk violating the federal anti-deficiency laws. High estimates for routine services leave fewer funds available for mission-critical activities such as training and readiness.

Year-end spending worries federal employees, and it should worry taxpayers too.  For several years the Obama Administration conducted a SAVE campaign (Securing Americans’ Value and Efficiency), which asked federal employees to suggest ways to make government more efficient. In my role as DoD comptroller, I reviewed suggestions related to DoD. I was struck by how many employees urged that year-end spending be reduced. A 2007 survey of DoD financial management and contracting professionals showed the same result. Almost all respondents expressed concerns about year-end spending.

The law already has some provisions designed to avoid year-end spending spikes.  For example, only 20 percent of major operating budgets are supposed to be spent during the final two months of the fiscal year. But this provision still leaves room for final-week spikes.

Congress could help by passing DoD appropriations on time – that is, by October 1.  Late appropriations push even more spending toward the end of the year and may exacerbate year-end spending. Unfortunately, Congress has not provided DoD with an on-time appropriation during any of the Obama years, and it will apparently not do so again this year.

But Congress can help by permitting DoD to carry over a small percentage of its operating budgets (perhaps 5 percent) into the next fiscal year. This flexibility would not increase the total funds available to DoD. However, for funds eligible for carry over, managers could decide whether to buy that office furniture for the headquarters at the end of the year or wait and let other needs compete for the funds next year. There is some evidence that carry-over authority helps. Our Harvard and Stanford researchers found that, at one federal agency that had such authority (the Department of Justice), final-week spending spikes were much smaller.

While serving as DoD’s comptroller, I tried to persuade Congress to permit the Department to carry over small amounts of its operating funding into the next fiscal year.  I made a few converts, but not enough to make it happen.

The next administration should try again to secure carry-over authority.”

Why DoD’s Year-End Spending Needs to Change

 

 

 

Military Tech Matchmaker Getting Ready to Open Wallet

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Image: mayoradler.com

“DEFENSE ONE”

“The Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, or DIUX  DIUx connects smallish companies with potential customers inside the Defense Department. It has plans to fund another 22 projects to the tune of $65 million.

For every dollar DIUx puts toward a new  company, a  military branch contributes $3.

The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act charged “outreach is proceeding without sufficient attention being paid to breaking down the barriers that have traditionally prevented nontraditional contractors from supporting defense needs, like lengthy contracting processes and the inability to transition technologies.”

Folks close to [Defense Secretary] Carter have said that he remains deeply, personally committed to the effort, and would open a DIUx cell in every city in America if he could.

“I created DIUx last year because one of my core goals as secretary of defense has been to build, and in some cases rebuild, the bridges between our national security endeavor at the Pentagon and America’s wonderfully innovative and open technology community,” Carter said.”

http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2016/09/militarys-tech-matchmaker-getting-ready-open-its-wallet/131554/?oref=defenseone_today_nl

 

 

Military Aid To Israel $38 Billion Over 10 Years

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Image:  “Accuracy in Media.Org”

“THE WASHINGTON POST”

“Israel and the United States have reached an agreement that will provide Israel an unprecedented amount of military aid over a decade.

U.S. officials declined to comment on the specifics of the agreement.

The State Department said the agreement, known as a memo of understanding, will be signed Wednesday afternoon. Jacob Nagel, Israel’s acting national security adviser, arrived in Washington on Tuesday morning to sign on behalf of his country.

The agreement is expected to give Israel as much as $3.8 billion a year over 10 years, more aid than the United States has ever provided to any country. That represents a significant increase over the $3.1 billion the United States gives annually now, a figure that increases to about $3.5 billion a year with aid supplements approved by Congress. That is also much lower than the $4 billion to $5 billion a year that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought.

Netanyahu appears to have agreed to some other major concessions. The newspaper Haaretz reported that he agreed to limit Israel’s ability to lobby Congress for more aid, unless it is at war. The Israeli leader also agreed that Israel will not ask Congress for more aid to develop missile defense systems.

In another concession that was controversial in Israel’s ­defense industry, Netanyahu agreed to phase out a special arrangement that for decades has allowed Israel to spend 26 percent of U.S. aid on defense research, development and procurement. No other country receiving U.S. funding is allowed to do so. But Israel was granted that exception in the 1980s so it could build up its nascent defense infrastructure. With Israel’s defense industry now thriving, the Obama administration wanted U.S. aid directed to American companies providing goods and services.

Negotiations for the aid package have been underway since November to replace a memo of understanding that will end in 2018. The new agreement will run from 2019 through 2028.

Salai Meridor, who was Israel’s ambassador when the last agreement was signed, welcomed the deal, despite some reservations.

“I don’t measure this relationship by the dollar number and whatever the exact number is. It is a reflection of the great relationship between the state of Israel and America,” he said.

But Meridor called it disappointing to have limitations on Israel requesting more aid from Congress in the future.

“Many of the important initiatives that have cemented the relationship have been the result of Congress’s initiative,” he said. “I think this is an element of the agreement we might all regret in the future.”

The talks have been complicated by substantive, political and personal differences. Netanyahu and President Obama have had a famously contentious relationship that reached a boiling point in 2015 when the Israeli leader appeared before Congress to lobby against the Iran nuclear deal.

The Obama administration wanted the increased military aid package completed before the end of his term to demonstrate the United States’ commitment to Israeli security after the agreement with Iran.

“It’s a good deal for Israel and a good deal for the United States,” said Ilan Goldenberg, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security. “It sends a signal to those in the region that the U.S.-Israel relationship is a bedrock in the Middle East. Whatever difficult relationship exists between the president and the prime minister, at a strategic level, the relationship is better than that. Even if Obama and Netanyahu don’t like each other very much, Israel and the United States are willing to make a commitment to Israel’s security.”

The agreement has political advantages for both leaders. Netanyahu has been criticized for his aggressive tactics on the Iran nuclear deal, with critics saying he has poisoned relations with Israel’s greatest ally. Obama has insisted that the United States remains Israel’s biggest protector, despite any personal and political differences with the prime minister.

“In financial terms, Israel maybe could have gotten more in the summer of 2015 than the summer of 2016,” said David Makovsky, a fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “But it’s still an increase. What seems to have driven the idea of coming to closure on this now is that both sides would like to get this done before the election.”

Israel remains concerned about the threat posed by Iran, particularly now that its isolation has been eroded with the Iran nuclear deal.

“We do not want this to be interpreted as being compensated for a deal we did not consent to,” said Eran Lerman, a former deputy national security adviser to the prime minister.

“We know Israel was not alone in the region of feeling worried about the consequences,” he added.

It remains to be seen whether the $3.8 billion a year represents a ceiling or a floor. The agreement appears to rein in Israel’s ability to ask for more money. But members of Congress, particularly those involved in appropriations, have expressed a reluctance to give up their ability to allocate money based on their sense of priorities.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/agreement-on-military-aid-for-israel-expected-within-days/2016/09/13/50847ad8-79c1-11e6-bd86-b7bbd53d2b5d_story.html

 

Military Victory is Dead

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“MODERN WAR INSTITUTE AT WEST POINT”

“Victory’s been defeated; it’s time we recognized that and moved on to what we actually can accomplish.

We’ve reached the end of victory’s road, and at this juncture it’s time to embrace other terms, a less-loaded lexicon, like “strategic advantage,” “relative gain,” and “sustainable marginalization.”

A few weeks back, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Harvard Professor Steven Pinker triumphantly announced the peace deal between the government of Columbia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC). While positive, this declaration rings hollow as the exception that proves the rule – a tentative treaty, however, at the end, roughly 7,000 guerrillas held a country of 50 million hostage over 50 years at a cost of some 220,000 lives. Churchill would be aghast: Never in the history of human conflict were so many so threatened by so few.

One reason this occasion merited a more somber statement: military victory is dead. And it was killed by a bunch of cheap stuff.

The term “victory” is loaded, so let’s stipulate it means unambiguous, unchallenged, and unquestioned strategic success – something more than a “win,” because, while one might “eke out a win,” no one “ekes out a victory.” Wins are represented by a mere letter (“w”); victory is a tickertape with tanks.

Which is something I’ll never see in my military career; I should explain. When a government has a political goal that cannot be obtained other than by force, the military gets involved and selects some objective designed to obtain said goal. Those military objectives can be classified broadly, as Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz did, into either a limited aim (i.e. “occupy some…frontier-districts” to use “for bargaining”), or a larger aim to completely disarm the enemy, “render[ing] him politically helpless or military impotent.” Lo, we’ve arrived at the problem: War has become so inexpensive that anyone can afford the traditional military means of strategic significance – so we can never fully disarm the enemy. And a perpetually armed enemy means no more parades (particularly in Nice).

Never in the history of human conflict were so many so threatened by so few.

It’s a buyer’s market in war, and the baseline capabilities (shoot, move, and communicate) are at snake-belly prices. Tactical weaponry, like AK-47s are plentiful, rented, and shipped from battlefield to battlefield, and the most lethal weapon U.S. forces encountered at the height of the Iraq War, the improvised explosive device, could be had for as little as $265. Moving is cost-effective too in the “pickup truck era of warfare,” and reports on foreign fighters in Syria remind us that cheap, global travel makes it possible for nearly anyone on the planet to rapidly arrive in an active war zone with money to spare. Also, while the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba shut down the megacity Mumbai in 2008 for less than what many traveling youth soccer teams spend in a season, using unprotected social media networks, communication has gotten even easier for the emerging warrior with today’s widely available unhackable phones and apps. These low and no-cost commo systems are the glue that binds single wolves into coordinated wolf-packs with guns, exponentially greater than the sum of their parts. The good news: Ukraine can crowdfund aerial surveillance against Russian incursions. The less-good news: strikes, like 9/11, cost less than three seconds of a single Super Bowl ad. With prices so low, why would anyone ever give up their fire, maneuver, and control platforms?

All of which explains why military victory has gone away. Consider the Middle East, and the recent comment by a Hezbollah leader, “This can go on for a hundred years,” and his comrade’s complementary analysis, that “as long as we are there, nobody will win.” With such a modestly priced war stock on offer, it’s no wonder Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies agrees with the insurgents, recently concluding, of the four wars currently burning across the region, the U.S. has “no prospect” of strategic victory in any. Or that Modern War Institute scholar Andrew Bacevich assesses bluntly, “If winning implies achieving stated political objectives, U.S. forces don’t win.” This is what happens when David’s slingshot is always full.

The guerrillas know what many don’t: It’s the era, stupid. This is the nature of the age, as Joshua Cooper Ramos describes, “a nightmare reality in which we must fight adaptive microthreats and ideas, both of which appear to be impossible to destroy even with the most expensive weapons.” Largely correct, one point merits minor amendment – it’s meaningless to destroy when it’s so cheap to get back in the game, a hallmark of a time in which Wolverine-like regeneration is regular.

This theme even extends to more civilized conflicts. Take the Gawker case: begrudged hedge fund giant Peter Thiel funded former wrestler Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against the journalistic insurrectionists at Gawker Media, which forced the website’s writers to lay down their keyboards. However, as author Malcolm Gladwell has pointed out – Gawker’s leader, Nick Denton, can literally walk across the street, with a few dollars, and start right over. Another journalist opined, “Mr. Thiel’s victory was a hollow one – you might even say he lost. While he may have killed Gawker, its sensibility and influence on the rest of the news business survive.” Perhaps Thiel should have waited 50 more years, as Columbia had to, to write his “victory” op-ed? He may come to regret the essay as his own “Mission Accomplished” moment.

True with websites, so it goes with warfare. We live in the cheap war era, where the attacker has the advantage and the violent veto is always possible. Political leaders can speak and say tough stuff, promise ruthless revenge – it doesn’t matter, ultimately, because if you can’t disarm the enemy, you can’t parade the tanks.”

Military Victory is Dead

 

Homeland Security Must Manage Risk – Not Events

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“THE HILL”

“The department’s mitigation programs, relationships with states and localities, and emerging analytic capability make it the ideal hub for a risk management mission.

The DHS isn’t doing its job because it doesn’t know what its job is.

Rather than combating terrorism, the department should refocus its mission around combating risks of all kinds.

It was created as a mishmash of 22 disparate agencies in the rush to respond to the Sept. 11 attacks. Congress and the president created the department with the explicit mission of preventing terrorism, but they included unrelated agencies that needed a home, while other important terrorism- or disaster-related agencies were left out.

Today, the department’s management spends much of its precious time responding to the headline of the day across multiple missions of protecting the border, preparing for natural disasters, and managing airport screeners. Its frontline employees don’t fare any better — the agency routinely tops the list of worst places to work in government. Fortunately, the department can do better. Public administration scholars have found that one of the best ways to improve job satisfaction is to make missions and goals more clear and less ambiguous.

Fixing the department requires jettisoning the holding company model and leaving the job of curbing terrorist threats to the Department of Justice, which houses the FBI. Without terrorism at the center, the agency can refocus on assessing and reducing an array of risks for natural and technological disasters. For any particular threat, such as terrorism or hurricanes, risk is a function of the probability of the threat multiplied by the potential consequences.  That sounds simple enough, but if done correctly it could transform how we prepare for disasters and make the country safer.

Right now, the DHS manages siloed programs to prepare for many different kinds of threats. But it is difficult to prioritize investments across different threats over time. A reformed department would compare the risks posed by hurricanes, forest fires, tornadoes, radiological “dirty bombs,” and cyber attack. Some defenses, such as concrete barriers, can reduce the damage caused by both floods and terrorism. The department could also assess risks over time. Investing in mitigation, or reducing the damage caused by disasters before they happen, is cheaper than coming to the rescue after a disaster. A report from the Multihazard Mitigation Council found that mitigation saves society an average of $4 saved for every $1 spent. It is difficult to convince politicians and department leaders to spend  money on mitigation, however, because they cannot easily take credit for helping to prevent a disaster that never happened, or that might not happen on their watch.

The DHS’ disaster management arm, FEMA, already offers grants to states and localities to build mitigation programs. But these programs are modest, and FEMA employees make up less than two percent of the department. Extending the mission of FEMA’s modest mitigation directorate would reorient the department around illustrating what risks society faces and what investments would reduce them. There is much work to be done. Convincing cash-strapped jurisdictions to spend money on mitigation requires evidence that the cost is worth it.

Some department officials say that they are already doing risk management. When compared with the careful forecasts of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or the exhaustive reports of the General Accountability Office, however, DHS products come up short. Building on analytic capacity from other agencies and the privacy sector could make the DHS the government face for information about risk.

For all the complaints that cities make about the department, the DHS has closer ties to cities and states than do most of the expert science agencies in the federal government. DHS border agents work closely with state and local police, and FEMA operates grant programs with every state and many counties. The department’s connections to the street level could be significantly enhanced with a sharper focus on risk management that leverages these existing relationships.

A reinvigorated DHS would leave chasing terrorists to better equipped agencies, jettisoning the ostensible reason for the department’s creation. Its new and expanded mission of assessing, illustrating, and reducing risks of disasters of all kinds is better suited for the 21st century. The world may not be more dangerous than it was in the last century, but it is more complex.”

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/homeland-security/294132-a-new-mission-for-homeland-security-managing-risk?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EBB%2009.02.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

Army Struggles To Open Up To Industry

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Army Bureaucracy

“BREAKING DEFENSE”

“The service wants industry, academia and its own internal fiefdoms to work together better and earlier.

The goal is to explore the art of the possible on weapons programs before the Army locks in official requirements that have — far too often — proven too ambitious, too expensive or too inimical to innovation.

The next time the Army holds a conference on how to improve its relations with industry, it should actually let industry into the most important session, Maj. Gen. Bo Dyess told his four-star superiors at the Army Innovation Summit here. It just has to get around its own lawyers.

But the largest service keeps finding its biggest enemy is itself. “I frankly have concerns about the Army,” Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall told the conference, especially because it has less in-house engineering expertise than the Air Force and Navy have to manage complex programs. While the entire Defense Department has procurement problems, Kendall continued, “the Army, I think, has a particular problem with this because they have so many different communities” — from tankers and helicopter pilotsto logisticians and cyberwarriors — “and they’re all competing for resources.” It takes a bureaucratic tour de force just to get all the Army’s different tribes working with each other, let alone with outsiders, which is why the first two Innovation Summits focused on coordination within the massive Army Materiel Command.

With high-powered participants like Kendall, Army Undersecretary Patrick Murphy, Army Materiel Command chief Gen. Dennis Via, and Training & Doctrine Command chief Gen. David Perkins, this third Army Innovation Summit showcased commitment to reform from the service’s top leaders. “We have to act with a sense of urgency at those earliest stages,” Murphy told me. “The more you collaborate, the more you innovate.”

But with a last-minute decision by Army lawyers to bar industry attendees from helping to write recommendations, the summit also made crystal clear how many devils remain in the details.

Conference organizers planned to have industry representatives in the working groups writing recommendations, Dyess told four-stars Via and Perkins in the final session of the summit. But then, said Dyess, “about ten days ago we got the calls: ‘hey, the lawyers at AMC have talked to the lawyers at TRADOC, and their interpretation of the FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulation) says that we should not let them in.’” Fortunately for next time, Dyess added, Army acquisition executive Katrina McFarland may have a work-around.

“I’ve got great lawyers at TRADOC, I’m sure Dennis (Via) has great lawyers,” Gen. Perkins said, “but Army policy should be very clear so it doesn’t take a lawyer to figure it out….We just can’t do this event by event by event.” Perkins has been pushing requirements reformsince 2014. (Nor is he exactly a lover of process and rules: He took his brigade into downtown Baghdad in 2003 without waiting for his superiors to approve.) Staying true to form, Perkins turned to the rest of the room and told everyone: “If we could actually hear any input from the folks in industry and academia that the lawyers barred from the meeting, that would be helpful.”

“We really want academia and industry to participate,” agreed Gen. Via. “We’ll find how we can do that.”

Industry’s Laments

In the open sessions where they could participate, industry representatives certainly weren’t shy. They say they want dialogue with the Army from the earliest stages of a project — before the service sets requirements or appoints a program manager. They want to talk about engineering, not just generalities, so they can understand what the Army really wants and so the Army can understand what industry can really do. They want the Army to tell them what problem to solve, on what schedule and at what price — but not to prescribe the specific solution.

“The biggest issue is restrictive requirements that are so narrow and so focused, that they’re not focused on the what that the Army wants, but on the how,” said Dan Zanini, a retired Army officer now at SAIC. “Then you really limit where you can go” with innovative alternatives.

“We look at RFIs (Requests For Information). We look at RFPs (Requests for Proposal). We look at requirements; they’re tightly refined and there’s no room… to innovate, to make this better,” said Jesse Nunn, president of Future Research Corporation.

“This first part of breaking down barriers is having this summit,” Nunn continued. “That offered me the opportunity to come here as a small business and participate.”

In the commercial world, “we have many organizations and events like this that bring people together (to) talk about the issues,” said David Bem, chief technology officer of PPG. In the defense world, however, events like the Army Innovation Summit are rare and precious. “Today we find (what the Army wants) through our contacts at the laboratories, or we look for solicitations, and I would argue that’s a fairly inefficient process,” he said.

The Army can collaborate and communicate with them, industry participants said. The summit is testimony to that — despite the legal snafu over who could help write recommendations. On a larger scale, BAE System’s Mark Signorelli praised the “constant” and “daily” communication that developed the lifesaving MRAP (Mine Resistant Armor Protected) vehicles to replace vulnerable Humvees in Iraq. More recently, just this month the Mobile Protected Firepower program (MPF) shared draft requirements documents with industry at an unprecedentedly early stage, long before they’re fixed.

“We have to be sharing ICDs (Initial Capabilities Documents), CPDs (Capabilities Production Documents), CDDs (Capability Development Documents), so you can drive industry’s investment (towards) what the Army wants,” said Boeing VP Bill Phillipps, a retired three-star general. “Sharing that information with us is critical.”

That communication also has to keep going. Currently, it tends to shut down at crucial stages because the Army fears legal repercussions if one competitor seems to be getting more information than another. So the easiest way to be fair is to stop talking to everyone. It’s this same fear, incidentally, that led Army lawyers to exclude all industry participants from the Army Innovation Summit’s recommendation-writing sessions.

“In some programs, pre-CDD, there’s a lot of exchange of information and ideas,” said BAE’s Signorelli. “The problem is that at the point when the door closes, it’s closed until the RFP comes out.”

At the same time, ironically, companies complain of information overload because there are too many uncoordinated Defense Department initiatives urging “innovation.” Secretary Ash Carter created both the Defense Innovation Unit (Experimental) and the Strategic Capabilities Office, on top of the existing Pentagon office for Emerging Capabilities & Prototyping. The Army is following the Air Force and Navy in creating a Rapid Capabilities Office. Army TRADOC has its “mad scientist” conferences.  There are other funding sources such as DARPA, the Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF), the Rapid Equipping Force (REF), and the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

“You’ve got to have a central point… where the Army is putting their issues and their problems” for industry to read, said Nunn.

Army Recommendations

While industry and academia weren’t allowed inside the working groups, the Army officers and civilians writing up the recommendations tried to include their ideas, Maj. Gen. Dyess said.

Communication is so poor that “industry and academia do not know what the government wants,” said Dyess. While there are many voices speaking for the military, they’re not consistent or coordinated, he said: “There’s no synchronization across different forums.”

The No. 1 recommendation for immediate action out of Dyess’s group: reinstate the annual Army science conference that was shut down after 2013’s budget sequester and conference scandals involving the GSA and VA. That will reopen a crucial venue for communication.

On a larger scale, said Dyess, the Army needs to catalog and publish for all to see all its upcoming industry days. TRADOC should compile the list of industry days held by all its requirements developers, while the Assistant Army Secretary for Acquisition, Logistics & Technology should do so for events hosted by program managers and program executive officers. Army University should index and summarize Army-sponsored research publications. Technology roadmaps and requirements should also go in a central library, added Maj. Gen. Kirk Vollmecke.

Gathering all this information takes time and money. So will restoring specialist positions that assisted requirements developers by analyzing missions and threats, as will reviving personnel exchanges between different parts of the Army. But it’s necessary, Dyess said.

It’s a big agenda. But it’s a significant step forward just to hold the summit, bringing together as it does industry, Army Materiel Command, and Training & Doctrine Command. “The Army is extraordinarily busy supporting every combatant command, so you can become consumed just in day-to-day business that you have,” General Via told me. “The ability to pause and just have a conversation is the first step.”

Army Struggles To Open Up To Industry

 

 

 

Congress’s Female Combat Vets Speaking Up On Military Issues

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Women Combat Vets

“THE WASHINGTON POST”

“There are now four female combat veterans in Congress.

And they have something to say about the changing face of the Armed Forces, which is officially open to women joining combat units across the board.

They are a diverse group: Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) is a former Black Hawk helicopter pilot, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) served in the military police in Kuwait. Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) flew A-10s for the Air Force, and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) served in the Iowa National Guard.

But they are speaking together in Congress just as the Pentagon is implementing sweeping changes to the face of the military. And as they raise their voices, their colleagues are listening to them on issues such as sexual harassment in the military, expanding family leave and planning options for soldiers, and – most recently – whether women should be eligible for the draft.

“There’s still a lot of misperception that exists and a lot of misinformation, though by and large most people are sincerely interested in learning more and hearing more from us” about women in combat roles, Gabbard said in an interview. “We’re coming at this as a continuation of the service to our country.”

The foursome is hardly a sisterhood-in-arms – they are divided ideologically, and their interactions outside of the Armed Services committee rooms are relatively infrequent, although Gabbard and McSally belong to the same morning workout group.

But in a short period of time, the women have become go-to authorities in a legislative arena traditionally dominated by men – and especially male veterans. And their experience in the male-dominated military has taught them important lessons about how to survive in Washington.

“I mean, it [Congress] is a male-dominated institution … so it felt very, um, ‘familiar’ is probably the right word,” McSally said in an interview, laughing. “But I learned a lot along the way in the military on how to figure out how to be credible, respected and effective in that environment, when you are potentially the only woman at the table.”

Of the 102 veterans serving in Congress, these four are the only women.

Each is fiercely proud of her military service and looks back fondly on the bulk of her interactions with fellow soldiers, commanders and underlings in the military. But each also has distinct memories of how being a woman in uniform meant being treated differently.

“There were different missions I had volunteered for, along with other females in our unit, and we were told we weren’t allowed to participate in those missions simply because we were female,” Gabbard recalled of her time as a military police platoon leader in Kuwait.

“When I was overseas, I had two senior officers from another battalion who were not good to deal with,” Ernst said, alluding to overt harassment during her deployment with the Iowa National Guard. “Sexual harassment certainly exists.”

For McSally and Duckworth, the differences were palpable before they even left basic training.

McSally wanted to be an Air Force doctor, but “the reason I decided to be a fighter pilot,” she explained, “is because they said that I couldn’t.”

“It motivated me to just say, you know, this is wrong, and I’m going to be a part of proving that it’s wrong,” she said.

For the female Republican veterans especially, issues pertaining to women in combat can put them at odds with their party leadership. But change from within the system, they say, is part of the job.

“I joke that I believe part of my calling in life is to create cognitive dissonance in people. First it was ‘women warriors,’ and now it’s ‘feminist Republican,’ ” McSally said. “But just to clash people’s stereotypes and make them have to choose.”

“We have very few people that actually have backgrounds in national security,” she continued. “So when I speak on a variety of issues, hopefully they take that into consideration.”

Duckworth has a similar story: She entered the Army speaking four languages and thinking she would become a linguist. But when her superiors told her, as the only woman in her graduating class of ROTC cadets, that she didn’t have to consider combat roles like her male colleagues, she changed her mind.

“It’s why I became a helicopter pilot,” Duckworth said. “And what I love about the military is if you can do the job, then you’re part of that group – at the end of the day, it’s the ultimate meritocracy.”

But as lawmakers, getting people to hear their arguments about women in the military can be hard. Often, the female veterans find themselves repeating the same points to colleague after colleague, person after person, trying to change minds one by one.

The latest issue requiring a sustained persuasion campaign is the debate about whether women should be subject to the draft – something all four female combat veterans favor, even though none of them believe a draft is still necessary.

“It’s about equality,” said Duckworth, a former Army pilot whose Black Hawk helicopter and was shot down over Iraq in 2004.

“If we’re going to have a draft, then everyone should register,” she said.

Male veterans in Congress started the debate as a way of challenging President Obama’s recent decision to open all U.S. military combat roles to women.

But the effort to shock lawmakers into repudiating the new policy backfired when a majority of House and Senate Armed Services committee members supported the change to have women ages 18 to 25 register for the Selective Service.

GOP leaders have tried to stamp out the issue, stripping the draft language from the House’s defense policy bill and releasing a convention party platform opposing women in combat. The question will ultimately be resolved later this year when Congress finalizes a defense policy bill.

But in the meantime, the four women have been pushing back against the most common emotional arguments surrounding the draft — that is, no one would want their own wife, sister or daughter risking her life on the front lines.

“It’s a ‘gotcha’ — because ‘women shouldn’t be in combat. … I’m going to make your daughter sign up,’ ” Duckworth said, shrugging. “Great. I’ll go register her right now, she’s 18 months old.”

Said Ernst: “I believe we all need skin in the game, and my daughter will turn 18 here in a little over a year. And certainly — do I think she should sign up? Yes, I do. So it is personal to me.”

The issue of women in the draft is just one of many traditionally driven by male veterans on topics such as wars, weapons systems and persistent reports of sexual assault in the military.

Congress’s female veterans rarely agree unanimously on any major military issue other than the role of women in combat, now playing out in the debate over the draft.

All favor instituting standards and policies that would help recruit and retain more female troops.

But they differ over how to address the scourge of sexual harassment in the services, and the extent to which the government should shoulder the cost of more parental-leave and fertility-assistance options for enlisted soldiers.

On the question of fertility assistance, Duckworth, Gabbard and McSally support a new Pentagon pilot program to help service members continue to have children even if injured in combat. But Ernst says it’s not always feasible to pay for such measures — desirable as they may be — while the Defense Department is in a budget squeeze.

They are also divided on how to respond to sexual assault in the military, an issue of heated debate in the Senate, where Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) – neither of whom served in the military – have been driving the standoff over whether cases should be prosecuted outside the chain of command.

Democrats Duckworth and Gabbard support Gillibrand’s approach to take such cases out of the chain of command and hand them over to a military prosecutor. Gabbard has led that legislative effort in the House.

But Republicans McSally and Ernst who has dealt with a situation in which a soldier under her command was accused of rape – both said they are seeing enough progress to allow commanders to consider the issue.

Still, both took deep breaths before answering this question, adding that they reserved the right to change their minds if the military does not continue to significantly improve in this area.

The four have, however, found common cause in less politically divisive initiatives, such as McSally’s bid to secure burial rights for female World War II pilots at Arlington National Cemetery, a bill that became law this spring.

As for the draft and women serving in combat roles, all four are united in advising their colleagues against typecasting.

Some of the four would also like to use their influence to shed light on lower-profile issues affecting women in the military.

Elements of basic procurement may have to change, Duckworth said, recalling how the cut of her flight suit made the prospect of going to the bathroom while on mission a near-impossibility. As women move into new combat roles, the Pentagon and defense contractors will have to make changes to accommodate women’s bodies.

Establishing achievable but fair performance standards for women is more complicated than it seems, Ernst warned.

Even haircut policies can cause a problem, McSally said. Letting women evade the traditional buzz cut “can add to resentment” or allegations of special treatment for women, she said.

Some things, the female veterans argue, will just be worked out in time as the military matures to accept and promote more women, such as Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson, who in May became the military’s first female combatant commander.

“As we get more women from my generation who served in combat roles and who actually saw real combat move up … you’re going to see some of the problems get more attention and be resolved,” McSally said.

But generational changes come slowly. And so all four are committing themselves to a long road ahead.

“I’ve lived through this nonsense for 26 years,” McSally said, referring to stereotypes about women in the military. “It’s a part of my journey in service. If you’ve got to change people’s minds one at a time, then you need to do it.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2016/08/02/congresss-four-female-combat-veterans-are-speaking-up-on-military-issues/?utm_campaign=Defense%20EBB%2008-03-16&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Sailthru

U.S. Designates Cyber Attack Lead Agency

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“DEFENSE ONE”

“For years there has been confusion about who does what when hackers hit the homeland. Not anymore.

Justice Department is squarely in charge of responding to cyberthreats against the United States, under a presidential directive issued Tuesday.

At the same time, the Homeland Security Department will immediately help agencies and companies, if requested, stanch the bleeding from a hacker assault on networks, or “assets,” President Barack Obama said.

Justice will take the lead in “threat response” or investigating a system attack on site, identifying the perpetrator and breaking up attack operations because foreign adversaries often are involved.

In view of the fact that significant cyberincidents will often involve at least the possibility of a nation-state actor or have some other national security nexus, the Department of Justice, acting through the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, shall be the federal lead agency for threat response activities,” the directive states.

The latest data breach pinned on a foreign country, this time Russia, leaked Democratic National Committee emails in what some foreign policy experts say was a ploy to influence the presidential elections or the next administration’s policies.

This presidential policy directive sets forth principles governing the federal government’s response to any cyber incident, whether involving government or private sector entities,” Obama says in the rules signed July 26.

In a Tuesday statement, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson acknowledged: ”I am often asked ‘who’s responsible within the federal government for cybersecurity? Who in the government do I contact in the event of a cyberincident?’”

Now, the so-called U.S. Cyber Incident Coordination presidential directive “clarifies the answer to these questions,” Johnson added.

DHS’ role is providing technological help and figuring out what other organizations might be at risk, among other things.

Johnson explained asset response “involves helping the victim find the bad actor on its system, repair its system, patching the vulnerability, reducing the risks of future incidents, and preventing the incident from spreading to others.”

In addition, DHS and Justice will produce “a fact sheet” with instructions on how private individuals and organizations can contact relevant agencies about a hack attack.

The director of national intelligence’s job will be to assist in aggregating analysis of threat trends, along with helping “to degrade or mitigate adversary threat capabilities.”

The military will be responsible for dealing with threats against its own Department of Defense Information Network. Likewise, theDNI will handle incidents that impact the intelligence communityIT environment.

First Things First

Whichever federal agency first learns of a cyberincident “will rapidly notify other relevant federal agencies in order to facilitate a unified federal response and ensure that the right combination of agencies responds to a particular incident,” the directive says.

Obama expects DHS to write, within the first month of the next administration, what he is calling a “National Cyber Incident Response Plan” that addresses attacks against private-sector networks.”

http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2016/07/obama-finally-decides-whos-charge-if-or-when-america-comes-under-cyberattack/130257/?oref=defenseone_today_nl

Stage Set for 2017 Government Shutdown

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government shutdown

Rose Covered Glasses Note:   To read how we can permanently fix this recurring mess please click on the following link: 

The One Year Budget Cycle Must Go

“GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE.COM”

“Members of Congress on Friday prepared to leave Washington for their summer recess without having completed a single one of the dozen appropriations bills required to fund government operations in 2017.

The current fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

That sets the stage for a contentious budget battle when lawmakers return to work in September following the Labor Day holiday.

How that battle will affect agencies is anybody’s guess at this point.

Ed Lorenzen, senior advisor at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said “I’d be extremely surprised to see Congressfinish the appropriations process before the election.” He thinks lawmakers may send one or two appropriations bills to the president’s desk this fall, but then will pass a stopgap spending bill to fund the government through December.

“We might get one or two bills that pass, but there will have to be a continuing resolution,” he said. Lorenzen also expects lawmakers to use various budget gimmicks—such as channeling funds through the Pentagon’s Overseas Contingency Operations account or other “emergency” accounts—to blow through the spending caps established by the 2011 Budget Control Act. That’s something both Republicans and Democrats are amenable to if it advances their own priorities. For Republicans, that’s to increase defense spending, especially given troop increases in Afghanistan and Iraq; for Democrats, it’s to boost spending on domestic programs such as efforts to combat the Zika virus.

Because members of both parties want to increase spending—albeit on different things—lawmakers would be reluctant to pass a long-term CR that would carry over into 2017 because that would lock in current spending levels, Lorenzen said.

Longtime budget watcher Stan Collender has a different take. There’s “no way” Congress will pass any appropriations bills, he said. “A CR covering all 12 appropriations is virtually inevitable.” Collender, executive vice president at the strategic communications firm Qorvis MSLGROUP, believes congressional Republicans will want to lock in spending levels for as long as possible, given the possibility that the November elections could put Hillary Clinton in the White House and give Democrats a majority in the Senate.

“For that same reason, a full-year CR is not out of the question,” Collender said.

Also not out of the question is another government shutdown this fall. “I wouldn’t say ‘never,’ but I think everyone wants to avoid it,” Lorenzen said. The wild card in any calculation is what the conservative Freedom Caucus will do, said Collender. The group has been the driving force behind high-stakes budget brinksmanship in recent years, and forced the government to shut down for 16 days in 2013 over members’ opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

“The only question is whether the Freedom Caucus will be its usual disruptive self or will see the value of not shutting—or even threatening—a shutdown,” Collender said.”

http://www.govexec.com/oversight/2016/07/fight-over-how-avoid-government-shutdown-just-getting-started/129953/?oref=defenseone_today_nl