The BDO GovCon Week Ahead - December 2020

December 2020

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December 21, 2020

Pfizer’s Vaccine Rollout Begins: As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) vaccine advisory panel, which is comprised of 22 independent scientific experts, infectious disease doctors and statisticians, has given Pfizer the greenlight for emergency use of its groundbreaking COVID-19 vaccine.

This news follows the U.K.’s vaccine approval on December 2 and Canada’s on December 9 and comes just as the U.S. experiences some of the darkest days of the pandemic. The U.S. is currently experiencing record-high daily deaths, which are among some of the deadliest days in American history, even eclipsing infamous days like 9/11 and D-Day.

The initial shipment of Pfizer’s vaccine is intended to be for 6.4 million doses, enough to vaccinate nearly 3.2 million Americans with its two-shot dosing. It will be allocated across the country by state-wide population, signaling the first time that the American people can see a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel for this almost year-long scourge.

For more information, please click this link

Big Changes for the Pentagon on the Horizon: As inauguration day draws closer for Present-elect Joe Biden to assume the most powerful position in the free world, President Donald Trump and his administration are making big changes in the Pentagon. These changes include the construction of hundreds of new Navy ships over the coming decade by drastically cutting Army and Air Force priorities; additional troop drawdowns in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia; and the potential for the Pentagon to withdraw support for all CIA counterterrorism missions starting in early 2021.

These sweeping changes to Pentagon priorities and function are not set in stone. Given the quickly approaching date to when the President-elect and his administration will be sworn in, these edicts could potentially be rejected and undone on day one of a Biden presidency.

It is unclear whether the Biden team would reverse course on these initiatives, but it seems likely, given that this restructuring is largely considered to be a hinderance to a smooth transition of power.

For more information, please click this link.

Makeover Season Continues for the GSA and its Acquisition Tools: The General Service Administration’s (GSA’s) Federal Service Desk (FSD) is the latest GSA tool to undergo aesthetic and functional changes, to streamline services and bolster security. FSD.gov received a new layout, a new search function and a chat feature to connect its users with customer support.

Additionally, FSD.gov now requires users to sign in using Login.gov in order to file a ticket or speak with customer support. Login.gov is the same service that contractors have seen other GSA tools, including SAM.gov, switch to, which reduces the number of logins and passwords to be maintained and provides multi-factor authentication capabilities.

For more information, please click this link.



December 14, 2020

Congress Passes 2021 NDAA – Will It Pass the Presidency? Congress has passed its 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill was passed by an impressive 86 – 14 vote in the Senate and just shy of a two-thirds majority vote in the House.

This bill approves over $731 billion for the military and contains a special focus on cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, science and technology, and personnel and health costs. Specifically, the bill expands the authority of U.S. Cyber Command, increases the responsibility of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, adds $330 million in funding to the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) science and technology budget, and slows down the restructuring of military treatment facilities.

Although the bill has been approved by Congress, it is not without controversy.  President Trump has repeatedly threatened to veto the bill if it did not repeal parts of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which protects technology companies from liability for content posted by their users. Additionally, he has been quoted as saying that he plans to veto the bill if it contains provisions that would change the names of military bases named after Confederate officials.

Currently, the Senate has passed the bill by a veto-proof margin, but the House has not. Should Present Trump follow through with his veto threats, some House members may shift course and side with the bill, allowing for a veto-proof two-thirds majority.

For more information, please click this link.

20 Million Vaccinated by the End of the Month, 100 Million by March: Operation Warp Speed (OWS) has outlined its goals for rolling out COVID-19 vaccines in the next few months, with the primary objective to have enough vaccines available for all healthcare workers and the at-risk U.S. population by the end of February.

With the potential of one or more vaccine candidates receiving emergency use authorization as early as this week, OWS is optimistic that 20 million people will be vaccinated by the end of 2020, with an additional 30 million in January and another 50 million in February. After initial distributions, states will receive more vaccines each week, with each state deciding how the vaccines are allocated, but with OWS recommending that front-line healthcare workers and long-term care residents getting the first doses.

For more information, please click this link.

Another Massive DoD IT Contract on the Horizon: The Pentagon is expected to officially release the request for proposal (RFP) for its long-anticipated $11.7 billion dollar network consolidation this week, after more than two months of delays. Officially dubbed the Defense Enclave Services contract, the purpose of this award is to move 22 “Fourth-Estate” DoD agencies to a common IT system under a single-service provider. The Fourth Estate agencies of the DoD are agencies that do not fall directly under any military department and currently work on various disjointed networks, which is an outdated and cumbersome scenario.

The indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract is expected to be awarded in December 2021 and will span 10 years. This contract is part of a larger DoD initiative aimed at optimizing operations, saving money and creating efficiencies within the Fourth Estate.

For more information, please click this link.



December 7, 2020

FOIA Is at It Again: This time, it’s the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan recipients whose information will be released publicly. Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), several news outlets have submitted requests to obtain PPP loan recipient data, citing that it’s in the public’s interest for the information to be disclosed. Up until this point, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has released limited data, but that’s going to change based on a D.C. District Court Decision.

Just before Thanksgiving, the court denied the SBA’s motion to stay the release of information.  As a result, the SBA had until the first of December to release the names, addresses and loan amounts, so that questions surrounding the program’s effectiveness and potential necessary corrective actions regarding loan disbursement failures may continue to move forward.

For more information, please click this link.

The GSA Confirms Joe Biden Victory: Following more than two weeks of uncertainty and numerous legal hold-ups, the General Services Administration (GSA) announced on Monday, November 23, 2020, its confirmation that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election and will be sworn into office, alongside Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, in January 2021. This declaration of victory by the GSA opens the door for the Biden team to receive federal resources and access to federal agencies in preparation of his ascension to office and is an integral part of a smooth transition of power.

This declaration came from the Trump-appointed head of the GSA, Emily Murphy, who had received criticism from Democrats, Republicans, health officials and national security experts alike arguing that a continued delay in the formal transition process would jeopardize national security, hamper the ongoing COVID-19 response and create serious disruptions. In her letter of ascertainment, Murphy argued that she had reached the decision independently and did so based on the law and facts. Additionally, Murphy strongly denied that she was ever pressured by anyone in the White House, the GSA or other partisan body in delaying this decision.

Even following the GSA’s decision, President Trump has continued to refuse to concede the election, and, will likely wait until the Electoral College vote, which occurs on December 14 but will not be officially counted until January 6, 2021.

For more information, please click this link.

The Schedule F Uncertainty Continues: In an update to a story we have previously covered, congressional members and federal employee groups are clamoring to block President Trump’s recent Schedule F Executive Order ahead of the presidential transition and looming government funding deadline.

Numerous House Democrats, including Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Oversight and Reform Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerry Connolly, are pushing congressional appropriators to use the next federal spending bill to block the executive order.

The executive order, which was signed last month, allows federal agency heads to reclassify “policy-making, determining, or advocating” positions from the current career competitive service designation to the new Schedule F excepted service designation.

House Democrats, federal employee organizations and good government groups are united in their concerns with this executive order. Specifically, they have expressed concerns that the order could have “broad and unsettling changes” for those in the career federal workforce leading up to the presidential transition. Additionally, they are concerned agencies could use this executive order to shield political appointees in the current administration from shake ups in the near future by reclassifying their job classifications as Schedule F positions.

As January 2021 approaches, House and Senate Democrats argue that any attempt to implement the Schedule F order is a waste of resources and time as agencies would likely be forced to reclassify tens of thousands of federal employees following the Biden administration’s expected repeal of the executive order.

For more information, please click this link.



December 1, 2020

Opportunity is Knocking: With the holiday season fast approaching, it’s hard not to think about poor Charlie Brown and his pal Linus trying to get the rest of the Peanuts gang to see the true meaning of Christmas.  Even Snoopy, his own dog, goes commercial by entering and winning money in a decoration contest.  This holiday season, however, going commercial won’t have such a negative connotation.

The Commercial Item Group (CIG) within the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) has issued a call for both traditional and non-traditional defense contractors to submit commerciality requests directly to the DCMA CIG. Now through February 19th, contractors may submit Contracting Officer Commercial Item Determination (CID) request packages for products, not services, that fall into the following product areas:  Space Systems, Unmanned & Autonomous Systems, Energy and Materials, Ruggedized & High-Performing Computer Components, Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs), Engines, and High Energy, Long Cycle Life Batteries.

This opportunity gives defense contactors the chance to submit a request package and ideally obtain a CID, which could reduce the administrative burden and greatly expedite the timeline associated with the acquisition process for future awards.

For more information, please click this link

The CIA’s Billion-Dollar Cloud Computing Initiative: On November 20, 2020, CIA officials confirmed that a portion of the secretive agency’s large cloud computing contract, known as Commercial Cloud Enterprise (C2E), has been awarded to tech giants Amazon Web Services, the cloud-computing subsidiary of Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle.  Although the terms are shrouded in secrecy, this contract is expected to be worth in the tens of billions and could provide nearly two-dozen intelligence agencies with an extensive array of cloud computing services.

In February 2020, the CIA drafted an RFP that outlined the expectations and requirements for the 15-year indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract.  This contract has a five-year base period and two subsequent five-year option periods. The overall C2E initiative consists of two contracts, one for cloud service providers to provide professional services and foundational cloud services—this is the portion that has just been awarded to the companies listed above, and a cloud integrator/multi-cloud management initiative where contractors will provide the necessary tools needed to work across the multiple cloud architectures awarded in the first contract.  As of this writing, this secondary contract has not been awarded.

Following the highly publicized and controversial Department of Defense Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative (JEDI) contract, where the awarded single-contractors Microsoft and Amazon Web Services have been locked in a bitter protest in the Court of Federal Claims, the CIA has decided to award the contract to numerous companies.  Hopefully this utilization of multiple vendors will help to avoid the gridlock seen in the JEDI contract.

For more information, please click this link

Operation Warp Speed Lives Up to Its Name: On the heels of better-than-expected efficacy findings, Pfizer has officially become the first COVID-19 vaccine developer to apply for emergency use authorization with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Pfizer, along with its German partner, BioNTech, filed the appropriate paperwork with the FDA, and a decision is expected as early as December 10th.

In advance of that December 10th meeting, an independent committee known as the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) will review the application and data provided.  Should the VRBPAC decide to approve Pfizer’s vaccine, this decision will go to the FDA and the agency will make the final determination. This final review and decision from the FDA will likely take a few days.  At that point, should the FDA approve the vaccine candidate, the vaccine will begin to be distributed across all 50 states within 24 hours.
Lastly, once the VRBPAC and FDA have approved the vaccine and vials are in transit to distribution centers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will make the final decision on who can get the vaccine and in what order the distribution will take place.

Barring any delays, come December 31st, General Gustave Perna, the Chief Operating Officer of Operation Warp Speed (OWS), expects to have roughly 40 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine (likely from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna) ready to begin mass vaccinations.  These initial 40 million doses are enough to vaccinate 20 million people, as both top vaccine contenders require two doses to be given.

For more information, please click this link and this link.

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