This week, President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) and federal IT contractors should note the changes it brings for them. We commend the Senate and House’s continued commitment to acquisition reform, adopting innovative technologies to help warfighters meet their missions, and improving oversight of cybersecurity. While no single provision can reform the entire system, these deliberate and systematic changes will improve how DoD procures IT solutions and services, and ultimately will save taxpayer dollars and deliver mission-critical technology to warfighters faster. We look forward to continuing this work in the next iteration of the NDAA.
Here’s a closer look at what’s in the NDAA, and the provisions that are at the top of our priority list for FY2018:
- Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act: We have been a long-standing champion of this legislation, and are thrilled to see it become law. This standalone bill, originally introduced by Congressman Hurd (R-TX) and Senators Moran (R-Kan.) and Udall (R-N.M.), creates more flexibility in IT investment funding. This provision tops our list because agencies will now be able to create working capital funds to reprogram dollars to IT investment and have access to a government-wide revolving fund for IT modernization projects.
- e-Commerce Portals: The House included a provision to permit government transactions for commodity goods in e-Commerce portals. The final version tasks the General Services Administration (GSA) with undertaking a step-by-step assessment of how such a capability should be set up. These assessments include an evaluation of product-specific considerations for items categories, like Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and medical products, as well as determining what compliance requirements should be applicable in the marketplace. Ultimately, GSA will contract for such a service once the assessments are completed. This concept was supported by ITAPS because it moves government acquisition more closely to a commercial-type transaction.
- Open Source software: Original Senate language proposed new requirements for the open source management of software, including software already owned by the government. The House and Senate reached compromise on the proposal by creating a pilot based on the Office of Management and Budget Memo M-16-21, Federal Source Code Policy: Achieving Efficiency, Transparency, and Innovation through Reusable and Open Source Software.
- Security Clearances: Language that was adopted will shift Department of Defense (DoD) security clearances back to DoD as a reaction to the current backlog of over 700,000 pending investigations at the National Background Investigation Bureau. ITAPS did not support this bi-furcation of a process that is already challenged, possibly making a bad situation worse and not addressing root causes of the problem or modernizing the process. More importantly for contractors, Congress added new language that directed the Department to seek to reduce security clearance billets available for cleared contractor personnel.
- Supply Chain Security: The Secretary of Defense is now required to establish a process for enhancing scrutiny of acquisition decisions to improve the integration of supply chain risk management into the overall acquisition decision cycle.
- Information Sharing: Under this provision, the Secretary of Defense must establish a pilot to enhance information sharing with cleared defense contractors for enhancing supply chain security.
- Policy Advisory Committee on Technology: Congress directed the Secretary of Defense to establish a committee of senior executives from U.S. firms in the national technology and industrial base to leverage expertise in the private sector to understand current trends in technology and how those technologies could threaten national security.