When the pandemic hit this past spring, the DoD sent its employees home. While many continued their work from home, for some projects and offices, the work is location specific. On August 17, the DoD updated its guidance on paid leave costs under the CARES Act. Costs are covered between March 27 to September 30. While the updated guidance recognizes that contractors have multiple project streams, it may allow for reimbursements to be streamlined and distributed by agency. Prime contractors are mandated and accountable for subcontractor claims. Due to the normal legislative gridlock at the end of every fiscal year, along with the election cycle, it’s important to watch the dates.
Layoffs Impacting the Defense Industry
|Salesforce is sending out rounds of layoff notices to about 1,000 employees in an effort to re-position the company for continued growth. The organization’s tool is helpful in tracking new contractor leads and upcoming bids. With shifts in business priorities, Salesforce felt the need to adjust its hiring and retention plan.
Onboarding with the federal government hasn’t been known to be smooth sailing for most. However, the recent pandemic has highlighted the updates made to the onboarding platform back in 2015. OPM spokesperson, Tim Rice said that agencies have used the USA Staffing Onboarding to onboard 211,622 new federal employees this year. Additionally, the tool was used to transmit over 1 million forms and 1.4 million electronic documents in fiscal 2020. The current pandemic has highlighted the need for seamless and electronic onboarding.
“USA Staffing Onboarding interface was built to meet agency needs for an automated, standardized onboarding capability. Onboarding users benefit from an automated forms process allowing new hires to efficiently complete forms on-line by answering an ‘ask once, use many’ customized questionnaire,” OPM wrote in its competition narrative. “It also allows agency HR professionals to manage forms and communicate with new hires using a streamlined, standardized and automated process. It is seamlessly integrated with the main staffing functions of USA Staffing and is designed to accommodate agencies’ unique onboarding processes. Onboarding has integrated identity management systems to reduce time to provide key new hire data by transmitting data securely and automatically.”
Hiring impacting the Defense Industry
|It’s another week, and Raytheon is hiring again. This time, Raytheon is looking for about 400 positions in El Segundo and Goleta, CA. The openings are for hardware engineers, systems designers, and cybersecurity specialists.
“We’re looking for a lot of systems engineers, a lot of strong technical background folks that really can think in a system of systems type of perspective,” Annabel Flores, vice president of electronic warfare systems said. “Especially in today’s environment where we provide network capability to our systems, our systems are able to talk to each other and connect … so we’ve got to protect that data.”
Raytheon’s merger with United Technologies back in April has moved the organization up on the aerospace and defense supplier list.
Opportunity to Watch
While lack of accountability remains to be an issue in the DoD for their new acquisition model, the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) is a push by the Pentagon to inject artificial intelligence in the military. The goal for the center is speed. With a consortium of companies and academic institutions, the Pentagon will have a smaller pool that will be focused on procuring technologies and services in order to advance AI within the military. The model would have a consortium manager to oversee, and the participants would pay a fee in order to play in the club.
The advantage is a different contracting model that allows the DoD to bypass the regulations on researching, testing, and prototyping at a federally regulated speed. Other companies that aren’t usually in the DoD mix might be able to be added in, as well. While the traditional contracts are not sidelined, it does open up one method of moving the AI dial in a direction towards progress.