Legislative Branch Activity
National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)
The Senate Armed Services Committee filed its bill, S. 1197, on Thursday, June 20. Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) would like to bring the bill to the Senate floor in July, but that remains uncertain at this time.
Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up and passed its $10.7 billion Military Construction-Veterans Affairs bill. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) took the Senate Appropriations Committee spot left vacant with the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). The Senator’s Subcommittee assignments have yet-to-be-determined.
A Senate Subcommittee hearing last week explored the government’s effectiveness in overseeing its security clearances, which comes on the heels of classified information leaks of the NSA surveillance program by a government contractor, Edward Snowden. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) reportedly wrote a letter to Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) requesting the committee investigate “how private contractors are managing the hiring and monitoring of employees who have top secret clearance from the government and who handle highly classified information.”
Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia would deliver the contractually obligated S-300 surface-to-air missiles to the Syrian regime. Two Russian warships are also reportedly headed to the waters off of Syria. Meanwhile, Members of Congress are increasingly voicing opposition to lethal U.S. action in Syria.
Last week, security in Afghanistan formally transitioned from the U.S.-led NATO Coalition to Afghan security forces. The Department of Defense continues to receive Congressional scrutiny over its decision to purchase Mi-17 Hind helicopters from Russia’s Rosoboronexport for the Afghan military. A leaked draft audit by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction last week revealed the Afghan unit that is slated to take possession of the 30 new Hind helicopters will be unable to operate the aircraft due to personnel shortages and training and expertise issues. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) reportedly said the Pentagon “blatantly ignored the will of Congress” in signing the latest contract. She further called for the contract to be cancelled immediately.
House Armed Services Committee Chair Howard McKeon (R-CA) said of President Obama’s speech last week in Berlin, Germany: “The President’s desire to negotiate a new round of arms control with the Russians, while Russia is cheating on a major existing nuclear arms control treaty, strains credulity.” Last week, the White House released a number of fact sheets related to Russia: (1) on the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Employment Strategy, available here; (2) on the signing of a new U.S.-Russian Federation bilateral framework on threat reduction, available here; and (3) on the establishment of a new working group to handle information and communications technologies threats, available here.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Wednesday, June 26: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation will hold a hearing on “Coast Guard Readiness: Examining Cutter, Aircraft and Communication Needs.”
Women-owned Small Business Program Interim Rule
An Interim Rule published in the Federal Register on Friday, June 21 removes the dollar limitation on set-asides to economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs) and to women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) eligible under the Small Business Administration’s Women-owned Small Business Program. The dollar limitation, including options, was $6.5 million or less for acquisitions in the manufacturing industries, and $4 million or less for all other acquisitions. As a result of this rule, contracting officers may now set aside acquisitions restricted to EDWOSBs or WOSBs eligible under the WOSB Program at any dollar level above the micro-purchase threshold, provided the other requirements for a set-aside under the WOSB Program are met. The Interim Rule is FAR Case 2013-010.
Private Security Final Rule
The Department of Defense, the General Service Administration and NASA are issuing a Final Rule amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to establish minimum processes and requirements for the selection, accountability, training, equipping, and conduct of personnel performing private security functions outside the United States. The Final Rule, effective July 22 sets forth the applicability, pertinent definitions, underlying policy, and a clause to implement minimum processes and requirements for personnel performing private security functions in designated areas outside the United States (i.e., in combat operations, during certain contingency operations, or in an area of other significant military operations as appropriately designated). The new requirements are found at FAR Part 25.3 in newly-added sections 25.302 through 25.302-6.