The Washington Post

New legislation shifts long-term defense IT priorities

Even as the government struggles to resolve sequestration and other budget debates, the new defense authorization law is laying out new priorities for information technology at the Pentagon. Here is a look at some of the changes:

Procurement policy

Congress has directed the Defense Department not to use cost-type contracts — many of which have run over schedule and over budget — in major defense acquisition programs.

This ban should boost the trend of using shorter contracts to save money and keep projects on track.

Under the new legislation, Congress is also calling on the Pentagon to improve the management and use of the Air Force’s troubled Network Centric Solutions-2 contract vehicle by increasing the number of eligible contractors and providing ‘‘on-ramps’’ to add contractors more quickly.

These changes mean wider opportunity, but may also cause increased competition and cost consciousness — as well as a high level of Capitol Hill scrutiny.

Additionally, the new law requires the Defense Department to arrange for an independent assessment of its small-business procurement performance and report to Congress by January 2014.

Congress continues to press the Pentagon to direct more contract dollars to small businesses, and wants to see greater headway and transparency in Defense Department data on prime contracting and subcontracting through small firms.


When it comes to cybersecurity, Congress wants to know more about the Air Force’s strategies for investing in command and control, decision support and cyber exploitation — and embedding these technologies into weapons systems.

Congress has also directed the Pentagon to acquire next-generation cybersecurity tools and capabilities to address rapidly changing threats in a sustainable and affordable way.

These new “plug and play” tools would continuously monitor cyber threats and could be easily deployed to Internet or cloud environments, as well as battlefield equipment and weapons systems.


The act directs the Defense Department to evaluate tools for large-scale data analytics. The Pentagon will have to specify its technical needs for database and data analysis tools, which will likely increase spending in advanced analytics software.

The Defense Department also is being directed to develop and implement a software security policy covering its critical systems development, including using automated software vulnerability analysis tools. Spending on these tools may offset some spending declines as the Pentagon consolidates software licenses.

With uncertainty and budget reductions dominating the discussion, these and other priorities in new law will affect business with the Pentagon and may result in some targeted opportunities for the right companies.

John Slye is an advisory research analyst in federal industry analysis at Herndon-based Deltek, which conducts research on the government contracting market and can be found at



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