Friday, November 28, 2014

The INSIDER - November 20, 2014

Posted on InsideDefense.com: November 20, 2014
Follow The Money

From today's Inside the Pentagon, news of the Pentagon's audit progress:

DOD Seeks To Release Updated Audit Readiness Guidance By Year's End

The Pentagon is aiming to release updated financial improvement and audit readiness guidance by year's end to help the department achieve a full financial audit in the next several years, according to a new report and a department spokesman.

The Defense Department was facing a deadline to have its statement of budgetary resources audit ready by this September -- a key milestone it partially met this fall when all of the services and many of the defense agencies asserted they were ready to start a schedule of budgetary activity (SBA) audit for fiscal year 2015.

The SBA audit applies to current-year balances. The department initially aimed to have the statement of budgetary resources -- which also includes prior-year balances -- audit ready by Sept. 30 of this year, but has since abridged that goal.

And More Money

ITP also looks at Afghanistan reconstruction funds:

SIGAR To Investigate DOD Business Task Force For Mismanagement

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko is planning to launch an "in-depth" investigation into a Defense Department business task force he says squandered $800 million.

Sopko, who said the U.S. effort to develop Afghanistan's economy has been an "abysmal failure," asserts that the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO) has accomplished nothing despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars to attract global private sector firms to the struggling nation.

"They've spent approximately $700, $800 million, and as far as we can see, they've accomplished nothing," he said, adding that "we're doing a really in-depth review of the TFBSO.

Rocket Plan

The Air Force may have a plan for new launch rockets:

Air Force, DOD To Unveil Rocket Engine Plan In FY-16 Budget

The Air Force is working closely with the Office of the Secretary of Defense to develop its recommended way-ahead for a new domestic rocket engine, and a top service acquisition official says those details will be unveiled as part of its fiscal year 2016 budget request.

Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, the Air Force's military deputy for acquisition, told reporters Nov. 19 that the service is working closely with the Defense Space Council -- a panel of DOD space officials tasked with informing, coordinating and resolving military space challenges -- to finalize a plan for replacing the Russian-made RD-180 rocket engine with a domestic alternative. Pawlikowski said the plan will be submitted to the deputy secretary of defense and then to the White House for approval, and will likely appear in the FY-16 budget.

"I don't know the exact date [the plan will be submitted], but it's all part of the workup to the closure of the budget," she said.

Money's Tight

Posted yesterday:

Number Of GAO Bid Protests Increased In Fiscal Year 2014

The Government Accountability Office said this week that the number of bid protests filed in fiscal year 2014 jumped 5 percent from the previous year to hit 2,561, the highest level in more than a decade.

Contracting attorneys and advocates have said companies are turning to protests more frequently, pushing harder to win work.

"As the dollars shrink, there's greater competition for fewer dollars, and I think that increased competitive landscape is also driving up challenges," said Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel at the Professional Services Council, an industry group. "There are far more companies chasing far fewer dollars."

Merger Talk

Possible ATK acquisition:

After Weeks of Review, ATK Says Orbital Merger Still Makes Sense

After a thorough review following Orbital Sciences' Antares launch failure late last month, Alliant Techsystems' board has opted to continue backing the companies' proposed merger, ATK executives said today.

The deal, first announced in April, would combine ATK's aerospace and defense groups with Orbital to create a company called Orbital ATK.

"Over the last two weeks, Orbital provided ATK granular operating, timing and financial assumptions around their recovery plan," said Neal Cohen, ATK's chief financial officer, during a Wednesday afternoon call with analysts.

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