The Government Accountability Office has received the green light from Congress to use an electronic docketing system for contractor protests and to start charging a filing fee to pay for it.

The GAO had proposed the fee as a way to pay for an electronic system that would replace the manual process now in place for reviewing thousands of protest-related e-mails.

The budget legislation signed by the president earlier this month mandates that the comptroller general operate an electronic filing system and authorizes a filing fee to support the system’s establishment and operation.

The legislation does not designate how much the fee should be. Ralph White, the GAO’s managing associate general counsel for procurement law, said in an e-mail that the fee will be driven by the cost of the system. He said he’s estimated a fee of roughly $250 — but that figure could change.

Northrop’s Bush, DoD’s Kendall advocate for R&D

The Pentagon and defense contractors clash plenty on budget issues, but they agree on one: preserving research and development spending.

Wes Bush , the chief executive of Falls Church-based Northrop Grumman, and Frank Kendall , the Defense Department’s top acquisition official, got together earlier this month at a event hosted by the Center for New American Security and the Aerospace Industries Association.

Kendall said there is typically reluctance to reducing the number of soldiers. “The consequence of that is R&D has to be cut,” he said.

But this spending is not a relative cost, like procurement, he said. The cost of a tank, for instance, depends on how many the Defense Department buys. But whether it wants one next-generation tank or many, the Pentagon has to pay for the same amount of research.

Bush said industry has “some responsibility” to take a greater role in funding research, but said that should be in partnership with the government.

ITI unveils public sector group

Despite a pending lawsuit with Tech­America , the new public sector group at the Information Technology Industry Council is planning its agenda and seeking members.

ITI last year hired four former TechAmerica employees for its IT Alliance for Public Sector. Trey Hodgkins was named senior vice president; Carol Henton vice president for state, local and education; Erica R. McCann manager of federal procurement; and Pamela Walker senior director for homeland security.

TechAmerica is suing ITI and those employees (with the exception of McCann), claiming they interfered with its business advantage.

Hodgkins said at a lunch with reporters Thursday that the lawsuit isn’t preventing ITAPS from winning over members. The group has six so far, according to Hodgkins, and has “momentum to bring in more members.”

Companies form cloud computing advisory group

Technology companies have come together to fund an advisory group meant to help lawmakers and the public better understand cloud — or Web-based — computing.

The creation of the group, called the Cloud Computing Caucus Advisory Group, follows the establishment of a cloud computing caucus by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.).

The advisory group is being underwritten by technology companies, including Amazon Web Services, EMC, MeriTalk’s cloud computing exchange and Microsoft.

David Hantman, a staff member for the advisory group, said the group’s first meeting will focus on FedRamp, a program meant to standardize the security of cloud products and services.