07 Sep 17. Three Contract Protests Lodged Against NSA! The National Security Agency, which can go for ten years without a contract protest, currently faces three, slowing the agency’s ability to issue new contracts.
“We are sitting on three of them right now. Used to be you could go a decade without one, let alone sitting on three in one year,” Charlie Stein, of the NSA’s wonderfully named Maryland Procurement Office, told about 100 audience members at the INSA and AFCEA intelligence conference today.
For the companies involved, Stein did not sound terribly sympathetic and offered a fact that must elicit enormous envy from his colleagues in Defense Department acquisition. “I can say that we have not lost one yet, and we don’t intend to.”
So what’s the cause of this sudden spate of protests, especially one involving an agency that normally works very closely and quietly with its contractors, often for a very long time?
Stein says they now “have a junior workforce,” one that isn’t as adept at crossing every T and dotting every i. Combine that with fact that, as a result of the protests, their “attorneys are tied up dealing with protests so they don’t have time to make sure new deals are free of protestable issues.”
Al Munson, first head of acquisition for the Director of National Intelligence, who appeared on the panel with Stein, notes in a recent paper for the Potomac Institute that “bid protests were extremely rare, and success in causing a source selection decision to be overturned were even much rarer” in the past. This has multiple effects on intelligence acquisition.
Munson writes that the “government has reduced the periods within the competitive process wherein communication with potential competitors can occur and has reduced the quality of those communications. This has the effect of reducing the clarity and increasing the ambiguity in the bidders’ understanding of the government’s needs, and therefore, in the responsiveness of the bids to those needs.” Munson believes this can lead “to an overly optimistic (read: unrealistic) cost proposal.” And once a protest is lodged, a program can be delayed years while the issues are resolved. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
05 Sep 17. Critical alert: EU ministers test responses in cyber war game. European Union defence ministers will hold a cyber war game for the first time on Thursday to test their ability to respond to a potential attack by computer hackers on one of the bloc’s military missions abroad.
In a fictional scenario, the EU’s naval mission in the Mediterranean will be sabotaged by hackers who cripple the mission’s command on land and launch a campaign on social media to discredit the EU operations and provoke protests.
Each of the EU’s defence ministers will try to contain the crisis over the course of the 90-minute, closed-door exercise in Tallinn that officials have sought to make real by creating mock news videos giving updates on an escalating situation.
“We want to show ministers the impact of cyber campaigns,” said Tanel Sepp, deputy director for cyber planning at Estonia’s defence ministry.
“Cyber has become a conventional tool in modern warfare,” said Sepp, who helped plan the “EU CYBRID 2017” exercise, a reference to the game’s mix of cyber and hybrid warfare techniques such as disinformation campaigns.
After a series of global cyber attacks disrupted multinational firms, ports and public services on an unprecedented scale this year, governments are seeking to stop hackers from shutting down more critical infrastructure or crippling corporate and government networks.
Especially concerned about Russia since it seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, Estonia has put cyber security at the forefront of its six-month EU presidency and proposed the exercise for defence ministers.
Estonia was hit by cyber attacks on private and government Internet sites in 2007 which peaked after a decision to move a Soviet-era statue from a square in the capital, Tall