HumanTouch acquires CorasWorks; Orbital Sciences launches satellites to study space threats

The Pentagon’s top acquisition official wants a reserve fund that would guard against budget cuts to defense programs.

Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, called the threat of sequestration “a nightmare” and wished for a defense reserve fund, which would act as a financial cushion when the Pentagon is forced to make automatic cuts to certain weapons programs, he said.

At a speech delivered in Washington last week, Kendall reiterated a call to understand what motivates contractors to produce better results for the government. That has been a mainstay of the Defense Department’s Better Buying Power initiative.

The program, which Kendall spearheads, seeks to improve the efficiency and affordability of defense programs by streamlining the acquisition process and promoting competition among contractors.

Kendall’s remarks were made at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association’s first Defense Acquisition Modernization symposium, held at the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center.

Defense officials took a hard look at the government’s acquisition process in the context of budgetary pressures at the two-day conference. Government spending cuts are set to rear their head again over the next two years, and that is a constant source of worry for those in the military and industry, Kendall and others said.

James McAleese, a principal at consulting firm McAleese & Associates, outlined how the 2015 defense budget was already hurting some branches of the military, such as the Army.

“The grim reality is, the Army is already in sequester,” McAleese said in a keynote speech.

Elaine Duke, a retired Homeland Security official, called on government to become more understanding of risks when it comes to working with contractors.

“Managing or decreasing risk cannot become the focus of the acquisition program,” Duke said.

HumanTouch acquires CorasWorks

HumanTouch, a McLean-based small business that provides information technology services to the government, has acquired Reston-based CorasWorks for an undisclosed sum. CorasWorks provides management solutions based on Microsoft’s SharePoint platform.

The deal is a boost to HumanTouch since it cuts down on application development time, the company said in a statement. For CorasWorks, it’s an opportunity to expand its cloud based strategy, the company said.

“The addition of CorasWorks into our environment provides a major leap forward in providing [cloud] solutions to our customers,” Jim Benson, senior vice president of HumanTouch, said in a statement.

CorasWorks is already in the process of moving its employees to the McLean office, a spokesman for the company said.

Orbital launches satellites to study space threats

Dulles-based satellite maker Orbital Sciences continued its summer space launch streak. The company said three satellites that it designed for the Air Force were successfully deployed last week. The satellites were riding aboard a Delta IV rocket that blasted off from Cape Canaveral on July 28.

All three spacecraft are part of the Air Force’s Space Situational Awareness program, which seeks to detect threats and conduct surveillance of objects in space.

Two of the satellites have a common mission — to better catalogue man-made orbital debris in order to improve spaceflight safety, Orbital said in a statement. The third satellite is designed to study the immediate vicinity around an object in space.

Orbital Sciences, which is set to merge with the defense arm of Alliant Techsystems later this year, has launched five missions into space since June.

Amrita Jayakumar covers federal government contracting for Capital Business, The Post's local business publication.
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