A Key Board Member. Lockheed Martin last Thursday announced the election of former AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan to its board, effective immediately, adding a director with the advanced telecommunications technology experience that Lockheed Martin Chief James Taiclet would seem to want to help provide high level guidance toward his goal of rapidly leveraging the revolution in commercial digital communications and technologies for the future battlespace. Donovan, who led AT&T Inc.’s largest segment from August 2017 until his retirement in October 2019, was chief technology officer of AT&T from 2008 through 2012. He also was the sales, marketing and operations chief at the internet infrastructure company VeriSign before joining AT&T and, before that, he led inCode Telecom Group, helping wireless carriers worldwide with their strategy.

DHS Computing Protest.

General Dynamics’ Information Technology business on Oct. 12 filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office of the Department of Homeland Security’s potential $2.7 billion, 10-year contract award to Peraton to manage the department’s hybrid computing environment. GAO has 100 days to make a decision. DHS on Oct. 4 selected Peraton for the contract, which was awarded under the Data Center and Cloud Optimization (DCCO) support services program. DHS, through the DCCO effort, is eliminating a data center operated by Hewlett Packard Enterprise and with the new award, planned to transition its other data center, which is operated by GD, to Peraton. The DCCO winner will also manage commercial and private cloud services for DHS.

Incentive Fees. The payment of award fees and bonuses—incentive fees—to defense contractors that do not meet program guidelines could be a thing of the past, if the Senate Appropriations Committee has its way. An explanatory statement on the committee’s version of the fiscal 2022 defense funding bill says that such incentive fees “are intended to be available to contractors for work that meets U.S. government requirements” and that “the committee is aware that despite federal regulations restricting payment of award fees to contractors with unsatisfactory performance measured against cost, schedule, and technical performance parameters, the Department of Defense has issued bonuses in such cases.”

…Committee Concern. Senate Appropriations Committee members are concerned by the practice “and the impact it will have on increasing the cost of defense programs or delivery of satisfactory end-items,” per the committee’s explanatory statement. “Therefore, not later than 180 days after enactment of this act, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment is directed to deliver to the congressional defense committees a report on the department’s payment of fees and bonuses to contractors with documented performance issues. This report shall cover the previous two fiscal years for each military service and defense agency and include at a minimum: an analysis of the number of contracts that have paid awards or bonuses to a contractor documented to be delivering unsatisfactory performance; the amount of awards or bonuses that have paid out under such circumstances; the total percentage of such awards and bonuses paid out, as a portion of total awards and bonuses over the same timeframe; an analysis of the department’s policy governing payment of awards and bonuses under such circumstances: recommendations for any changes to authorities or policy that would eliminate payments under such circumstances; and a plan to implement any recommendations.”

Report Ransomware Attacks. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco told a gathering of lawyers that victims of ransomware attacks need to report these incidents to the government, which will be able to pursue the bad actors, have a chance to bring them to justice, and prevent future attacks. Monaco, who has called for a national incident reporting standard for ransomware attacks, said last week that “when you are in discussions with your clients and they ask, ‘Why should we go to law enforcement? Where are the benefits?’ Well, here are the benefits: we make arrests; we hold people to account; we get money back; we will go after the keys and get them to the victim; and victims can help avoid liability through working with law enforcement and those companies that stand with us and work with us will see that we stand with them in the aftermath of an incident.”

CISA Award. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) last week awarded $2 million combined to two separate organizations for the development of cyber workforce training programs, a key part of the agency’s push to educate, hire, train and retain cyber talent amid and national workforce shortage. The awards to NPower and CyberWarrior are focused on the unemployed and underemployed, underserved communities in urban and rural areas, and traditionally underserved populations such as veterans, military spouses, women, and people of color.

…The Cybersecurity Service. The focus on cyber talent reaches to the top of the Department of Homeland Security, with the department set to launch its new Cybersecurity Service on Nov. 15, according to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The service will be governed by a new Cyber Talent Management System, which DHS published in August, that creates a new type of federal civil service position and will involve new hiring processes, new compensation structures, and a new approach to career development. Some estimates put the cyber workforce shortage at 1.8 million workers worldwide and more than 500,000 in the U.S., Mayorkas said during a cyber summit hosted by CISA last week. The new service “will increase access to public service careers in cybersecurity and modernize our department’s ability to recruit mission critical cybersecurity talent,” he said.

Patrol Boats. The Senate Appropriations Committee’s draft FY ‘22 defense spending bill directs the Secretary of the Navy to conduct a review and submit a report to the congressional defense committees on how to continue the mission of Mk VI patrol boats. The department proposed divesting of the boats “despite the platform filling an essential role in close-in maritime operations,” the bill report said. The committee “is concerned this decision may be premature, particularly without a clear plan for how the Navy will continue to fulfill the missions these crafts accomplish.” The report is due within 60 days of the bill’s enactment and must include an assessment of the Mk VI’s current and future mission capabilities; capability gaps not currently fulfilled by the Mk VI fleet; possible modifications needed to ensure such gaps are filled; system engineering, testing and evaluation data to support such conclusions; the vessel’s role in foreign partnership building and engagement with allies; and the department proposal to independently fulfill the current and future patrol boat missions.

SecNav Trip. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro left on his first overseas trip on Oct. 21 to visit sailors and government officials in the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility, including Hawaii, Japan, South Korea, Guam and Papua New Guinea. The trip aims to discuss international defense partnerships and reinforce U.S. commitments with government officials as well as visit shore and afloat commands. “The Indo-Pacific region is a priority for the Department of Defense and the Department of Navy. To ensure U.S. dominance against an evolving threat environment, we must be present, persistent and powerful in our integrated maritime strategy. We must invest in the health, readiness and capability of our fleet and strengthen relationships with our naval partners in the region,” Del Toro said in a statement.

Sub Work. The Navy on Oct. 19 boasted collaborative teamwork between the Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY), Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY), Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC) resulted in “innovative repairs” on the Virginia-class USS New Hampshire (SSN-778) attack submarine that saved about $3 million and more than 60 days. While at the shipyard, maintainers performed repairs on main ballast tank vents that are essential to operations. The submarine was pierside at NNSY’s Fleet Maintenance Submarines when MARMC divers were able to determine the problem with the tanks. NNSY worked with the PNSY to develop a plan for the repair while the latter also had the USS Texas (SSN-775), a similar submarine, undergoing an overhaul. Divers went from NNSY to PNSY to use SSN-775 to develop a mockup of the staging needed. Officials used the Texas to stage construction that was then used to repair the New Hampshire. Repairs also involved designing, developing and manufacturing specialized tools to keep the valves closed during the work.

Geurts. The former top Navy acquisitions official and temporary second highest civilian at the department was appointed the executive vice chairman of Sarcos Technology and Robotics Corporation on Oct. 14. In this role, Geurts will be responsible with working with the company’s executive team “to foster leadership development, identify and evaluate acquisition opportunities, scale its operations as it prepares to commercially launch its award-winning Guardian XO full-body, battery-powered industrial exoskeleton and the Guardian XT teleoperated dexterous mobile robotic avatar system.” The company is also seeking to refine its efforts to meet defense industry needs.  “I am honored and look forward to serving in the role of Executive Vice Chairman for Sarcos. Given my experience with bringing innovative new technologies to the field, and doing so with speed, cost-effectiveness, and quality in focus, I believe I am well-positioned to help Sarcos scale its business as the company brings its robotics technologies to market for both the commercial and military sectors,” he said in a statement.

…And More. Geurts also joined the Business Executive for Nations Security (BENS) non-profit group as its first distinguished fellow. In this role he will provide strategic oversight for the organization’s work over the next year as it relates to the future industrial base. “BENS is an important voice in helping advance U.S. national security priorities, and I look forward to working with the BENS team and its diverse set of members to strengthen partnerships between American business and the national security enterprise,” Geurts said in a statement. BENS is a nonprofit made of business leaders founded by a mining executive who volunteer time to address security challenges. It started by focusing on restraining proliferation of nuclear weapons and reducing defense overhead. 

65.5 Percent. Audrey Brady, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for F-35 global sustainment, said that the year to date mission capability for the company’s F-35 fighter is 65.5 percent. Brady said during a Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies podcast that Lockheed Martin “is partnering with the [military] services [and] our industry partners to pull every lever we can to reduce sustainment costs while also keeping in mind that we have to increase mission capability rates.” The F-35 operates from 21 bases globally, and has a stable of more than 1,460 pilots and 11,000 trained maintainers. Lockheed Martin said that the aircraft has more than 430,000 flight hours. Brady said that Lockheed Martin is using its global spare parts pool to reduce sustainment costs. She cited a 2019 deployment of F-35s from Hill AFB, Utah in which an aircraft in Italy needed a spare part that would have had to come from the United States but instead was delivered the same day from a warehouse in Italy.

Power Modules. The Senate Appropriations Committee’s fiscal 2022 defense spending bill recommends the addition of $535 million to bolster F-35 sustainment. The program “has experienced significant maintenance challenges primarily resulting from power module failures combined with depot repair capacity issues,” per a report on the committee’s bill. “This is of significant concern to the committee as it jeopardizes the operational availability of aircraft at a time when deliveries of new aircraft are reduced. The Committee believes it is necessary to expand the depot capacity and increase throughput of depot repair actions.” The committee advises adding $175 million to accelerate depot activities; $175 million for Pratt & Whitney F135 engine spare power modules; and $185 million for sustainment. The committee also “encourages the [F-35] Program Executive Officer to continue engagements with industry on potential solutions to increase the reliability of the power modules themselves.”

Thales Radios. Thales said on Oct. 18 it has received its first full-rate production order from the Army for its AN/PRC-148D Improved Multiband Inter/Intra Team Radio (IMBITR). The latest deal is the fourth deal to date placed under the Army’s Leader Radio program and brings the total orders to date up to 10,400 IMBITR radios. “As a critical component to the Army’s unified network strategy, the Thales IMBITR system provides advanced networking capabilities to the tactical edge allowing Warfighters increased flexibility in multi-domain operations and increased flexibility and ensuring a modern, highly resilient tactical network,” the company wrote in a statement.

Ransomware. Mieke Eoyang, the Pentagon’s lead cyber policy official, this week detailed the department’s approach to combating ransomware attacks, which she said is based on an “aggressive whole-of-government effort aimed at trying to hold the individuals accountable, deny them access to their proceeds and working with the private sector to shore up their defenses.” Eoyang also discussed the department’s sense of the Russian government’s level of direct control over malicious cyber actors, such as those that carried out the recent Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack. “I think it’s our sense that Russia has created a hospitable environment for these folks. And so what I think you’ve seen from the administration is an attempt to raise these issues and emphasize this priority directly with President Putin,” Eoyang told reporters. “Whether we can say definitively there will be no more Colonial Pipeline-[type attacks], I think that’s a little bit of a challenge. So it’s all the more important that the private sector thinks about resilience and plans for the possibility that there may be an attack, even if we in the government ramp up our efforts [for defense].”

SASC Advances Noms. The Senate Armed Services Committee on Oct. 21 voted to advance six nominations for Pentagon and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) civilian positions. The list includes Gabe Camarillo to be Army under secretary, Rachel Jacobson to be assistant secretary of the Army for energy, installations and environment, Alex Wagner to the assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs, Andrew Hunter to be the Air Force’s top acquisition official, David Honey to be deputy under secretary of defense for research and engineering and Corey Hinderstein to be the NNSA’s deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation. The nominations were immediately reported to the floor for full Senate consideration.