President Biden’s CIA nominee William J. Burns easily moved through confirmation hearings last week. With three decades of experience in foreign policy, Burns received a welcome reception from all sides of the aisle.

“I learned that good intelligence, delivered with honesty and integrity, is America’s first line of defense. I learned that intelligence professionals have to tell policymakers what they need to hear, even if they don’t want to hear it,” Burns said. “And I learned that politics must stop where intelligence work begins.”
Burns confirmed that China is the greatest threat to the U.S., noting the need for the CIA to recruit agents who speak Mandarin. Additionally, Burns notes the importance of artificial intelligence in gaining technological superiority in intelligence, as well as the need to fight back against cyber threats. Burns goal is to disentangle politics from intelligence in his time leading the CIA.

Layoffs Impacting the Cleared Industry

Newport News Shipbuilding Newport News Shipbuilding announced on Friday that it’s laying off 314 salaried shipbuilders. Additionally, 119 managers have been demoted. President Jennifer Boykin posted on Facebook:

“Today is a tough day as we say goodbye to 314 fellow shipbuilders as part of a layoff impacting our salaried workforce. This is the first workforce reduction we’ve experienced in five years and comes after a thorough assessment of our business.

“This decision, along with the demotion of an additional 119 managers, more evenly distributes management spans and reshapes production and support ratios.”

At the end of this month, Section 3610 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) is set to expire. This reality has led to the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) and nine other industry leaders to send a letter to House and Senate leadership, urging them to extend the 3610 authority. The industry leaders urging Congress to extend 3610 state, “Section 3610 provides the authority for agencies to cover certain contractor costs from existing funds and to keep key personnel and skilled workers in a “ready state” during COVID-19. This authority continues to be used by many federal agencies to maintain the capabilities and workforce necessary to meet mission needs and protect our national security and other vital programs.”

Hiring impacting the Cleared Industry

Perspecta Perspecta‘s recent $38 million award to continue its support at the Defense Manpower Data Center spells more hiring. While Perspecta has a deal with Peraton, it continues to land contracts, further securing its position. With over 400 open cleared positions on its company website, and more contract wins, Perspecta needs everything from help desk support to software developers to data scientists.

With the Contract for the DMDC, Perspecta will modernize the Synchronized Predeployment and Operational Tracker – Enterprise Suite (SPOT-ES), enabling the DMDC to monitor threats and better inform DoD decision-makers. The contract is a five year award: a base year, with four option years. Perspecta beat out five other contractors.

“DMDC will benefit from Perspecta’s ingenuity and drive to optimize digital environments while ensuring cyber resiliency,” said Jeff Bohling, senior vice president of Perspecta’s defense group. “The SPOT-ES award is reflective of Perspecta’s growing impact on mission-critical programs within the DOD.”

Cleared Employer at Work: Amazon

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Opportunity to Watch

The NSA sent out a cybersecurity information sheet for both defense agencies and contractors, instructing them on set-up procedures for a zero-trust network architecture. In order to build better preventive measures against exfiltration, the NSA is urging the DoD to implement zero trust. After the SolarWinds hack, the push to adopt zero-trust has grown.

“NSA strongly recommends that a Zero Trust security model be considered for critical networks to include National Security Systems (NSS), Department of Defense (DoD) networks, and Defense Industrial Base (DIB) systems,” according to the cybersecurity information document.

While plans are in the works for a reference guide in conjunction with the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), NSA’s seven page document begins the process of tackling vulnerabilities in the DoD.

“Adopting the Zero Trust mindset and leveraging Zero Trust principles will enable systems administrators to control how users, processes, and devices engage with data,” NSA said in a release. “These principles can prevent the abuse of compromised user credentials, remote exploitation, or insider threats, and even mitigate effects of supply chain malicious activity.”

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.