Tag Archives: Defense Contracting

Reviewing the Plan, Afghanistan - Ledford

People analytics, Drone strikes in Yemen, and Cost reimbursable contracts

Catch all the Intelligence and Cleared Jobs news at ClearanceJobs.Com

How your keystrokes inform hiring decisions, Yemenis heartburn over getting droned, and GSA’s consideration of a new business model – all in today’s defense headlines. 

 

December 14, 2013

Quick Read for Saturday

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.  Travelers’ checks – security first. Contributor Christopher Burgess’ 5 tips for more secure overseas travel: “Both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Defense Security Services have issued counterintelligence guidance . . . to prep the foreign traveler, and it should be a mainstay of the pre-travel preparation by any traveler.”

2.  Efficient, productive interviews, the first time. Editor Lindy Kyzer’s Candidate Requirements and Job Requirements checklists focus your efforts: “The candidate screening process is critical. How you prepare for it will make the critical difference in how much time you spend searching for the perfect applicant. When screening security-cleared candidates for your company, obtain key qualifications from the hiring manager up front. Knowing the office dynamic and desired personality characteristics will save time in the screening process.”

3.  Congressional Roundup: Contributor Ashley LaGanga reviews the week on The Hill.

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  Karzai to the United States: I’m not backing down. Reuters’ Sanjeev Miglani reports from New Delhi, “Karzai was in New Delhi in a burst of regional diplomacy as his ties with Washington have come under renewed strain over his refusal to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that will shape U.S. military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014 when most international troops will leave. He told reporters that the United States would have to stop the practice of raiding Afghan homes and help restart a peace process with the Taliban as necessary conditions for the security pact. . . . If Karzai doesn’t sign the deal, Washington says it will have to withdraw its entire force of some 44,500 troops by the end of 2014. Other NATO nations could follow suit leaving Afghan forces to fight the Taliban insurgency on their own.” Listen while you read.

2.  In Afghanistan, a governor with guts. AP’s Kathy Gannon reports, “The determination of [Tooryalai] Wesa, and other highly educated Afghans who returned from self-imposed exile after the collapse of the Taliban, has taken on increased importance ahead of a 2014 deadline for most U.S. and allied troops to withdraw. The pullout could put billions of dollars in annual international military and development aid at risk and place increasing importance on the role of local and national politicians and civil workers to fill the vacuum in rebuilding the country.”

3.  In Yemen, droning al Qaeda to popular support. Reuters contributor Yara Bayoumy reports, “The United States says its drone program has been successful in eliminating members of al Qaeda in various countries. Some Yemenis say had it not been for such strikes, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) could have seized more territory across Yemen. . . . Other Yemenis, and some U.S. politicians, say the strikes and civilian casualties are increasing sympathy for AQAP and resentment against America. AQAP, which has scattered across the country, is now targeting local police and security officials, who have only tenuous control in Yemen.” See related, LongWarJournal.Org’s “US drone strike kills civilians in central Yemen,” by Bill Roggio and Aljazeera.Com’s “Relatives want justice for Yemen drone strikes.”

4.  In North Korea, The Tragedy of Jang Song Thaek. AP contributor Jean H. Lee reports, “Jang’s execution, announced early Friday, marked an unprecedented fall from grace of one of the most powerful figures in the country as well as its most serious political upheaval in decades. . . . It was a humiliating end to a complicated career.”

5.  Iran steps away from nuclear talks table. Agence France-Presse’s Cyril Jordan reports, “Iran has quit nuclear talks with world powers, accusing Washington on Friday of going against the spirit of a landmark agreement reached last month by expanding its sanctions blacklist. US Secretary of State John Kerry and a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the major powers in the talks, both played down the suspension and said talks were expected to resume soon.”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  Korea Aerospace Industries’ next big sale. AviationWeek.Com’s Bradley Parrett reports, “Iraq has ordered 24 light attack fighters based on the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) T-50 supersonic trainer, with deliveries due to be completed by 2017. The order, including training, is valued at $1.1 billion, but KAI says supporting the aircraft over 20 years, also contracted, will take total revenue beyond $2 billion. Though Iraq’s aircraft are designated T-50IQ, an industry official says the aircraft will be built to the design of the FA-50 light attack variant of the T-50 family. Powered by a single General Electric F404 engine, the T-50 is a contender for the U.S. Air Force’s T-X trainer requirement.”

2.  Let’s hear it for the Warthog! DefenseTech.Com’s Kris Osborn reports, “The bipartisan defense budget that passed through the House Thursday includes strict language mandating the Air Force not execute any plans to retire the A-10 Warthog. The legislation specifically blocks the Air Force from spending any money to divest A-10s through calendar year 2014. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh has said the service needs to retired older, single mission aircraft like the A-10 in order to reserve funding for newer aircraft like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is slotted to take over the A-10’s close air support role.”

3.  GSA cost reimbursable contracts may nudge out small business. FederalTimes.Com’s Andy Medici reports, “The General Services Administration is considering adding cost-reimbursable options to its supply schedules . . . . Contracts on the GSA federal supply schedules currently use time-and-materials and fixed-price pricing terms. The General Services Administration could greatly increase its share of federal spending by adding cost-reimbursable options to its supply schedules, experts say. The move is partly a response to pressure from the Defense Department for more cost-reimbursable options.”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Your company’s data collection target may be you. The Atlantic’s Don Peck explains, “The application of predictive analytics to people’s careers—an emerging field sometimes called “people analytics”—is enormously challenging, not to mention ethically fraught. And it can’t help but feel a little creepy. It requires the creation of a vastly larger box score of human performance than one would ever encounter in the sports pages, or that has ever been dreamed up before. To some degree, the endeavor touches on the deepest of human mysteries: how we grow, whether we flourish, what we become. Most companies are just beginning to explore the possibilities. But make no mistake: during the next five to 10 years, new models will be created, and new experiments run, on a very large scale.”

2.  Now, let’s shoot them all down! WashingtonTimes.Com contributor Cheryl K. Chumley reports, “The U.S. Army said its latest defense technology — a vehicle-mounted laser — has passed a recent test with flying colors, successfully shooting a drone from the sky and intercepting and destroying several mortar rounds. The laser, dubbed the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator, or HEL MD, and placed atop a military vehicle, hit more than 90 mortar bombs, as well as several drones, during a six-week test period conducted in New Mexico at the White Sands Missile Range . . . . The technology probably won’t be completely operational and ready for mission until 2022, because developers are going to be working on increasing the power and range of the lasers. And the Army still has decide whether or not to buy the system . . . .”

3.  They can hear you now. WaPo’s Craig Timberg and Ashkan Soltani report, “The cellphone encryption technology used most widely across the world can be easily defeated by the National Security Agency, an internal document shows, giving the agency the means to decode most of the billions of calls and texts that travel over public airwaves every day. While the military and law enforcement agencies long have been able to hack into individual cellphones, the NSA’s capability appears to be far more sweeping because of the agency’s global signals collection operation. The agency’s ability to crack encryption used by the majority of cellphones in the world offers it wide-ranging powers to listen in on private conversations.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  Kill Bill Vol. III:   “One day after winning lopsided House approval, bipartisan legislation to ease across-the-board spending cuts and reduce economy-rattling budget brinkmanship appears likely to command the 60 votes necessary to clear the Senate . . . . Yet unlike in the House, significantly more Senate Republicans are expected to oppose the legislation than vote for it, highlighting the different political forces at work at opposite ends of the Capitol. . . . On Thursday, in advance of the vote, Speaker John Boehner unleashed a stinging attack on the groups campaigning for the bill’s demise, saying they lacked credibility. He also blamed them for leading the party into the shutdown this fall. The bill’s principal Republican negotiator, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, is also considered a potential presidential contender. An aide said he has been making phone calls to senators seeking their support.”

2.  Once a lobbyist, always a lobbyist?: “Mr. Podesta, named a senior adviser to President Obama, is not currently a lobbyist and therefore does not have to worry about the Obama administration’s self-imposed ban on hiring lobbyists to administration jobs. But he will nonetheless arrive at the White House after having run an organization that has taken millions of dollars in corporate donations in recent years and has its own team of lobbyists who have pushed an agenda that sometimes echoes the interests of these corporate supporters.”

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  “To Cut Component Prices, Learn To Manage Supplier Costs.”  AviationWeek.Com contributors Raman Ram, Joseph Martin, Jono Anderson , Erich Fischer argue, “OEMs and systems providers have the power to recapture some of the value they have conceded. To do this, however, they need to become good at estimating what the sourced parts should cost. Should-cost estimation capability has atrophied in many OEMs as procurement staffs have focused more on transactional activities. They are unable to identify inefficient suppliers that pass along high cost structure and opportunistic ones looking to exploit the absence of economic transparency.”

2.  “Israel must give up its worst-kept secret: the bomb.” Aljazeera.Com contributor Neve Gordon argues, “I am against Iran developing a nuclear weapon, but I am also opposed to Israel having a nuclear arsenal, which at 200 warheads, would be larger than the arsenal of Britain. There is, after all, a connection between the two and this connection needs to be spelled out, if a broader framework is to be adopted.”

3.  “The budget deal and Washington’s new politics of compromise.” Reuters’ contributor Anatole Kaletsky argues, “There are . . . several important lessons that can be drawn already from the U.S. budget agreement, several with implications for politics and economic policy in other countries. Here, briefly, are five . . . .”

THE FUNNIES

1.  Let’s hear it for the pork.

2.  In-action committees.

3.  “The NSA Before Xmas.”

2012-11-04 13_27_38

Alliances in Syria, The Verge in Geneva, and Immunity in Afghanistan – Daily Intelligence

Big 7 Reb groups team up against Assad’s advances, success in Geneva is within reach, and Loya Jirga majority agrees to U.S. Soldier immunity to Afghan prosecutions – all in today’s defense headlines. 

Saturday Coffee Read & BREAKING NEWS!

FROM THE DESK OF CLEARANCE JOBS.COM

1.  Security clearance reform on the Hill. Editor Lindy Kyzer reports, “Congress continues to debate next steps in the security clearance reform process. A senate hearing this week focused on position sensitivity designations. A new rule proposed by the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence would streamline the process for determining which positions are deemed ‘sensitive.’ Such a designation applies to positions with a potentially adverse effect on national security but which don’t require a security clearance. . . . [meanwhile,] the White House pushed back this week on Senate efforts to reform clearance procedures within DoD as a part of the 2014 Defense Authorization Bill.”

2.  . . .  ask what your company can do for you. Contributor Diana Rodriguez – a.k.a. D-Rod – with good advice  on interviewing the interviewer, for your own sake: “A successful interview requires input from both parties- the interviewer and the job candidate. Although many private firms, and federal and state government agencies, are actively seeking out veterans to hire, a percentage won’t be hired because they fail to ask the right questions during an interview.  Asking the right questions can help the interviewer form an impression of the applicant that may, in many cases, be as important as the answers given about their skills. “

THE FORCE AND THE FIGHT

1.  In Geneva, just don’t screw it up. Reuters’ Parisa Hafezi and John Irish report from Geneva, “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Geneva on Saturday to join talks on Iran’s contested nuclear program with Tehran and six world powers appearing on the verge of a breakthrough to defuse the decade-old standoff. . . . Diplomats said a formidable sticking point in the intense negotiations, which began on Wednesday, may have been overcome with compromise language that does not explicitly recognize Iran’s claim to a ‘right to enrich’ uranium but acknowledges all countries’ right to their own civilian nuclear energy. But Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Iran’s demand to continue construction of a heavy-water reactor near Arak that could, when operational, yield bomb-grade plutonium remained one of the main outstanding issues.” AP’s John Heilprin and Jamey Keaten, also in Geneva, report, “John Kerry and world’s other top diplomats joined Iran nuclear talks Saturday, cautioning there were no guarantees their participation would be enough to seal a deal . . . .”

2. In Syria, new alliances against al Assad. Aljazeera.Com reports, “Seven major Islamist rebel groups battling President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria have announced a merger to form an “Islamic Front” and pledged to build an Islamic state in a post-Assad Syria. . . . The factions joining the merger are Aleppo’s biggest fighting force Liwa al-Tawhid, the Salafist Ahrar al-Sham, the Idlib-based Soqour al-Sham, the Homs-based al-Haq Brigades, Ansar al-Sham, and the Damascus-based Army of Islam. The Kurdish Islamic Front also joined the front. . . . Amad Essa al-Sheikh, the head of the Consultative Council of the new Islamic Front, told Al Jazeera the goal of integrating the factions was to bring about ‘a paradigm shift in the armed rebellion by closing ranks and mobilising them to become the real alternative to the dying regime’. ”

3.  Jan – Haqqani’s second – killed in Pakistan. LongWarJournal.Org’s Bill Roggio reports, “The CIA-operated Reapers killed Maulvi Ahmed Jan, a top deputy in the al Qaeda-allied Haqqani Network, and two other commanders in an airstrike on a seminary in the settled district of Hangu. The hit was remarkable because US drones rarely stray outside of the designated kill boxes of Pakistan’s tribal areas, particularly the tribal areas of North and South Waziristan, where a host of jihadist groups operate unfettered. Of the 352 strikes recorded by The Long War Journal since the drone program began, 95 percent have taken place in the two tribal agencies. Only four of the remaining strikes occurred outside of the tribal areas; the last was in March 2009.”

4.  In Afghanistan, Loya Jirga immunizes troops. Khaama.Com reports, “The immunity for US troops which is considered to be one of the controversial terms of the bilateral security agreement between Afghanistan and United States, has reportedly been approved by majority. The national grand council (Loya Jirga) comprised of 50 working committees continued debate on the terms of bilateral security agreement between Afghanistan and United States. According to reports, majority of the working committees have approved the article 13 of the bilateral security agreement, which gives exclusive US “the exclusive right” to try its soldiers accused of crimes in Afghanistan.” And, a big OOPS in Nangarhar.

5. Uni-Polar Disorder: DoD’s 8-point Arctic Prozac. The Defense Department’s new Arctic strategy is an 8-point approach to maintaining peace and security in a new frontier that climatic forces are poised to open in the coming years . . . . As global warming accelerates, the secretary said, Arctic ice melt will cause a rise in sea levels that could threaten coastal populations around the world — but it could also open a transpolar sea route. Hagel said that expanded tourism, commercial shipping, migrating fish stocks and energy exploration in the region will affect the eight Arctic nations — Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden, along with the United States –- most closely. All, he said, ‘have publicly committed to work within a common framework of international law and diplomatic engagement.’”

CONTRACT WATCH

1.  Microsoft on the cheap. FederalTimes.Com reports, “The General Services Administration is looking for better deals on Microsoft software, according to a request for quotations released Wednesday. The RFQ is part of the agency’s Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative and will reduce the prices agencies pay for purchases of Microsoft software . . . . Companies have until Dec. 18 to respond to the RFQ.”

2.  Contractor windfall — $1.1 billion. NextGov.Com’s Bob Brewin explains, “The now moribund interagency program office charged with developing an integrated electronic health record for the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments spent $1.1 billion during its five year life, with the bulk of that going to support service contracts, based on a Nextgov review of Pentagon reports to Congress and testimony. The two departments in February ditched efforts to develop the iEHR after costs spiraled to $28 billion and decided to pursue modernization efforts on their own.”

TECH, PRIVACY, & SECRECY

1.  Welcome to the Dark Side. A remarkable read from DefenseMediaNetwork.Com’s George Galdorsi: “The expanding use of armed unmanned systems (UxS) is not only changing the face of modern warfare, but also altering the process of decision-making in combat operations. Indeed, it has been argued that the rise in drone warfare is changing the way we conceive of and define ‘warfare’ itself. . . . While few today fear that a 21st century HAL will turn on its masters, the issues involved with fielding increasingly autonomous UxS are complex, challenging, and increasingly contentious. While advancing other aspects of UxS improvements in areas such as propulsion, payload, stealth, speed, endurance, and other attributes are – and will remain – important, coming to grips with how much autonomy is enough and how much may be too much, is arguably the most important issue we need to address with unmanned systems over the next decade.”

2.  Congress to OPM – C’mon up. FederalTimes.Com’s Sean Reilly reports, “The chairman of a House oversight committee has subpoenaed the Office of Personnel Management for contracts and other documents as part of an investigation into the process for granting security clearances. . . . Both Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who has since disclosed sensitive secrets, and Aaron Alexis, another contract worker who killed a dozen people two months ago in a rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, held clearances granted through a process ‘orchestrated’ by OPM . . . .”

3.  “Staring down the Taliban in the Race to Eradicate Polio from Earth.” A special report from Wired.Com contributor Matthieu Aikins: “The smallpox campaign represented a new kind of success brought about by cooperation on a global scale, one that permanently made the world a better place. Researchers studying smallpox are the only people who have to be vaccinated against it anymore. It’s gone. With that success behind them, public-health officials naturally wanted to repeat it with other diseases. After a 17-year campaign, a cattle infection called rinderpest was officially eradicated in 2011. But the struggle to eliminate a second human affliction has proved more difficult than anyone imagined.”

POTOMAC TWO-STEP

1.  They pushed the button, Jim. . . .The big red one. In Geneva, we work to diminish “nucular” options; on The Hill, Senate Dems leverage them: “the rule change represents a substantial power shift in a chamber that for more than two centuries has prided itself on affording more rights to the minority party than any other legislative body in the world. Now, a president whose party holds the majority in the Senate is virtually assured of having his nominees approved, with far less opportunity for political obstruction.”

2. If it’s not a secret, you can’t leak it. That was Easy!: “Excessive government secrecy feeds public mistrust and may be fostering a culture of leaks, a Democratic lawmaker said Thursday in urging a fundamental re-look at the scope of the classification system. ‘It totally undermines public confidence in our institutions,’ Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said at the National Archives and Record Administration’s headquarters in downtown Washington. ‘We simply classify too much information for too long at too great a cost.’”

OPINIONS EVERYONE HAS

1.  “The Arabs’ Iran Dilemma.” Aljazeera.Com contributor Salah Nasrawi argues, “The best way to keep Iran in check, and to address the rise of sectarianism and its threats to internal security, would be to enact the long overdue democratic reforms that are vital for stability and to reduce tensions in the region through a new effective security and cooperation framework.”

2.  “What the filibuster’s demise means for the Supreme Court.” Reuters’ contributor Reihan Salam argues, “Now that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has ended the filibuster for district and appeals court nominees and executive branch appointments, it’s only a matter of time before the filibuster goes away for Supreme Court nominations and legislation as well.”

3.  “Without the filibuster, a tyranny of the majority.”  WaPo contributor Senator Lamar Alexander argues, “This was the most dangerous restructuring of Senate rules since Thomas Jefferson wrote them. It creates a perpetual opportunity for ‘tyranny of the majority,’ which Alexis de Tocqueville called one of the greatest threats to American democracy.”

THE FUNNIES

1.  War on Xmas.

2.  Ass-phyxiation.

3.  First Thanksgiving.