Here’s what you need to know before reading this article: Federal agencies are financed until March 11 under bipartisan legislation approved by the House, which just averted another shutdown of the federal government.
Without that approval, the government would have had to deplete its spending authority on Feb. 18 and, therefore, shutter most of its doors. That scenario is a lose-lose for both parties, especially in an election-year.
But what sounds like a small step forward is just the latest twist in the saga of Congress’ continual inability to finish its budget work in on time. That means significant risk exists for a full-year Continuing Resolution (CR) for fiscal 2022
For more than two decades, the U.S. has focused on counterterrorism efforts while China and Russia have invested in technology and have gained significant advantages ― as well as becoming increasingly aggressive. That means the U.S. is racing against time to invest in the force structure and capabilities needed prevent a major conflict.
A full-year CR would delay those needed key investments; some of such deferrals may be unrecoverable.
Furthermore, Congress has authorized large increases to the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, the European Deterrence Initiative and the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. So stopping this funding in the face of Russian build-up along the Ukrainian border, in the Arctic and elsewhere; as well as increasingly aggressive Chinese acts towards Taiwan risks signaling a lack of competence to counter their often belligerent actions.
A full-year CR would cut $36 billion in Congressionally-intended growth from the Department of Defense (DoD), prevent new programs from starting, increase procurement and leave resources misaligned to needs in the areas of space capabilities, hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence and autonomy, and nuclear force modernization.
Funding misalignments already include $3 billion allocated for Afghan security forces that no longer exist, and a lack of funding for the military and civilian pay raises. All told, more than 300 new starts across the DoD would be cancelled in fiscal 2022 by a full-year CR in Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation appropriations, procurement and military construction accounts.
Additionally, a full-year would create a significant impact on the Defense Industrial Base. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted defense production lines, development programs and the industry workforce. It has also disrupted the supply chain and workforce.
These issues are set to exacerbate an already challenged sector that has seen thousands of companies depart during the last decade. According to the National Defense Industrial Association’s 2021 Vital Signs report, fewer new entrants to the defense market have resulted in a 50 percent drop between fiscal 2019 (more than 12,000) and fiscal 2020 (just more than 6,000).
As for the current update of the bill, it includes $350 million to address leaking military fuel tanks that have contaminated drinking water near Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor. Nearly 6,000 people have complained of illness and the military has moved about 4,000 families into hotels and flown in water treatment systems from the mainland of the U.S.
DISA Announces Contract Award for Thunderdome Prototype
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and the DoD are amidst a global-power competition in a cyber landscape that’s rife with increasing risks and threats. The COVID-19 pandemic has expanded the cyberattack surface as more individuals telework, and as more applications and data migrate to the cloud.
In response, DISA has awarded a $6.8 million contract to Booz Allen Hamilton for execution of a Thunderdome Prototype, a zero-trust security model that aligns with President Biden’s executive order to improve the nation’s cybersecurity posture.
The deal calls for DISA to test how to implement its Zero Trust Reference Architecture by taking advantage of commercial technologies, such as Secure Access Service Edge and Software Defined-Wide Area Networks. Thunderdome will also incorporate greater cybersecurity centered around data protection and integrate with existing endpoint and identity initiatives aligned to zero trust.
Gloria Larkin is President and CEO of TargetGov and a national expert in business development in the government markets. Email glorialarkinTG@targetgov.com, visit www.targetgov.com or call toll-free 1-866-579-1346 x 325 for more information.