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Who Didn’t Win a Piece of This Army Infosec Deal?

By Bob Brewin // September 15, 2014

NAN728/Shutterstock.com

Last Friday, the Army awarded 18 companies $7.2 billion worth of indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts for “flexible, comprehensive, cost-effective services to support the Army's need for fully integrated intelligence, security, information operations and related support.”

The contracts run through 2019.

The winners include 11 large firms tapped for $5 billion in contracts and 10 small one whose slice of the pie is valued at $2.1 billion. You can read the whole list here.

Since an IDIQ deal is nothing more than a license to bid on future task orders, any company that did not land a spot on these contracts is probably suffering from a severe lack of self-esteem today. 

(Image via NAN728/Shutterstock.com)

Remembering NYC Fire Dept. Chaplain Mychal Judge

By Bob Brewin // September 11, 2014

The late Mychal Judge, a Chaplain with the New York City Fire Department
The late Mychal Judge, a Chaplain with the New York City Fire Department // Ed Betz/AP File Photo

On this day 13 years ago, my friend Mychal Judge, a Franciscan who served as New York City Fire Department’s chaplain, gave the last rights to a downed firefighter in the World Trade Center and then was killed by falling debris minutes later as he continued to minister to the fallen.

I got to know Mike in a variety of church basements around New York and came to appreciate his insight, wisdom and sense of humor, as well as his dedication to the fire department and folks he met in those church basements.

Mike also knew the truly rough side of New York – living and working out of the friary on West 31st St., just blocks from Penn Station. In Irish Catholic New York, you knew if you had some really bad sins, the 31st St. church was the place to confess – the priests there, including Mike, had heard it all.

James R. Kelly, a professor and sociologist at Fordham University, told The New York Times in 2002 Mike’s death “while ministering to firefighters in the heart of horror was the perfect image of selflessness …. He was a man for all seasons – even a season of tragedy.”

Sorry, Apple: Hong Kong Way Ahead with Mobile Payments

By Bob Brewin // September 10, 2014

Flickr user Danny Choo

I experienced the mobile payment future last year on a 10-day trip to Hong Kong — but it was with the Octopus Card used to access the city's subway and rail system, not a smartphone with near-field communications like the “Apple Pay” introduced with much hype yesterday.

The Octopus Card, launched in 1997, looks and works like a Washington Metro SmarTrip card with one key difference: You can use the Octopus to buy your morning coffee, lunch and dinner with one easy swipe by card readers installed at retail outlets throughout the city.

There are 20 million Octopus cards in circulation — nearly three times the population of the city — and they are also used to pay for parking and provide access control to apartments as well as to pay fares on the cities’ numerous ferry systems and to shop at supermarkets and department stores.

No credit card is needed (though you can use one) to buy, load or top off the cards — fill-up machines around the city still take old-fashioned cash.

When will the Washington Metro turn its SmarTrip into a mobile payment card?

How About More VA iPad-Toting Health Service Reps?

By Bob Brewin // September 9, 2014

In Green/Shutterstock.com

The Nashville, Tennessee, Veterans Affairs hospital at one time had 12 customer service reps wearing easy-to-spot red coats and equipped with iPads hanging around the front door to provide instant service to vets entering the facility, VA Secretary Robert McDonald said at a press conference yesterday.

McDonald said these red-coats “had iPads so they could contact the doctors, nurses, whoever they needed immediately.”

The number of red-coats in Nashville has now dropped from 12 to two -- and McDonald said he wants to see it go back up again.

I think this is the kind of “digital service” idea espoused by McDonald that should be installed in all 152 VA hospitals. 

(Image via In Green/Shutterstock.com)

Intelligence Research Agency Plans First Industry Confab

By Bob Brewin // September 8, 2014

Dooder/Shutterstock.com

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity plans to hold its first industry day since its founding in 2006.

The purpose of the gathering – held Oct. 29-30 “is to provide a unique look at the breadth and depth of IARPA's research through briefings, discussions and demonstrations,” including the Aggregative Contingent Estimation – or ACE program -- which seeks to improve forecasting of world events through the wisdom of crowds.

In case you wonder if this is a must-attend event, the FBO notice rather immodestly notes IARPA is one of the government's "most creative agencies”.

As befits a spook outfit, IARPA did not disclose the location of the separate top secret or unclassified industry day sessions, limited to 200 and 400 folks, respectively.

To register -- and learn the location of the industry days -- send an email to dni-iarpa-events@iarpa.gov.

(Image via Dooder/Shutterstock.com)