Improved FedRAMP

A new and improved FedRAMP now awaits users. The updated website is largely based on feedback from users and gives an in-depth description of the authorization process, enabling Cloud Service Providers and Third-Party Assessment Organizations a more user-friendly way to access relevant information on their role in the FedRAMP Authorization process. (FedRamp.gov February 16, 2021)

A few of the fundamental features include:

  • Authorization Process – the homepage highlights an interactive graphic to give participants a better understanding of the steps involved in the process of the various Authorization paths
  • Program Basics – this new page to FedRAMP details the mission, history, goals, and legal framework of FedRAMP
  • Documents and Templates – a new searchable function within FedRAMP
  • FAQs – functionality enabling participants to search for answers to the most common questions
  • Site notifications – participants are notified of updates, additions, and new blog postings
  • Enhanced Marketplace – design and accessibility and performance updates (ibid)

GSA plans to use web analytics and ongoing feedback to evolve the website over time to meet users’ needs.

Have questions about the new FedRAMP website? Give us a call.

Security Clearance Due Process Streamlining

The Defense Department is streamlining process procedures for individual security clearances. (Defense Systems, January 27, 2021). On 19 January, the Under Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum to “simplify, centralize and unify the established administrative process for unfavorable security clearance eligibility hearings and appeals. The memo directs DoD unit heads to allow applicants to: “cross-examine” those who made negative statements about them, and receive documentation on the administrative due process. However, all unit heads retain the ability to “deny or suspend” access to classified information or Special Access Programs if an individual is found to be “inconsistent with protecting the national security.” (ibid)

“The policy is effective upon DoD General Counsel (GC) certification to USD (I&S) that DOHA has prepared, but no later than September 30, 2022.” (ibid)

Was your application for a security clearance revoked and you are not sure what to do next? Give us a call.

Changes A-Comin’ With the Biden Administration

Contractors can expect to see a new executive order requiring federal contractors to pay a $15 minimum wage and provide emergency paid leave. Additionally, this week President Biden signed an executive order pressing federal agencies to buy more American-made products and services. The buy-American order “will ensure that the federal government is investing taxpayer dollars in American businesses—both small and large.” (The White House Statements and Releases, January 25, 2021)

Employers of the largest federal contracting workforce are cheering the minimum wage increase. Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, said Biden issued the minimum wage mandate because “he felt it was something that was not just right to do, but something that was necessary to do.”  (Government Executive, January 22, 2021)

The new buy-American order enhances the Buy American statute passed in 1933 and the Buy America statute passed in 1982. It calls for the following:

  • Closing current loopholes on how domestic content is measured and increasing domestic content requirements.
  • Appoint a new senior leader in the Executive Office of the President in charge of the government’s Made-in-America policy approach.
  • Increase oversight of potential waivers to domestic preference laws. (a GSA-built website will publish waivers publicly)
  • Connect new businesses to contracting opportunities by requiring active use of supplier scouting by agencies.
  • Reiteration of the President’s strong support for the Jones Act.
  • Direct a cross-agency review of all domestic preferences.
  • Support America’s Workers through Federal Purchasing. (The White House Statements and Releases January 25, 2021)

The buy-American order allows American manufacturers and workers to see how federal dollars are spent and where the money is funneled and used, providing transparency promised by the new administration. The higher minimum wage will empower the workforce and provide much needed economic relief. (Government Executive, January 22, 2021)

Questions concerning the new minimum wage or the buy-American order and their effect on future procurements? Give us a call.

Born in the USA

Last week DOD set in motion the Trusted Capital Digital Marketplace, the goal of which is to give companies an alternative to foreign investors. Often, using foreign investors prohibits contracting with the Department of Defense (DoD). The marketplace originally piloted last year with the official launch last month.

Both companies and investors apply to join the marketplace and are screened by DoD. Those accepted are listed in the digital marketplace as trusted receivers or sources of funds and may connect with each other. As of this writing, 128 companies and 30 investors have logged into the marketplace.

Tax cuts and the Jobs Act of 2017, creating new designations for special national security-related companies in the tax code, are crucial components of the marketplace. Additionally, the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act references the marketplace program. Combined, these will increase use of the program; as users report on the program efforts, it expands. The goal is to help start-ups obtain funding without looking to foreign investors who may have adversarial ties.

Are you looking to work with the Department of Defense and trying to figure out how to get funding? Give us a call.