Commerce launches pilot to understand vendors’ cyber capabilities

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The Department of Commerce launched a pilot program to improve its understanding of vendors’ cybersecurity and related IT capabilities, as well as industry’s understanding of its mission needs.

Dubbed the Government and Business Exchange (GABE), the forum will consist of 30-minute sessions hosted by Enterprise Services-Acquisition to share existing and emerging cyber requirements and watch vendor demonstrations.

The launch of the pilot program comes a few months after the Department of Justice established a Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative, which will hold vendors accountable for knowingly providing deficient cyber products, misrepresenting practices or failing to monitor or report cyber incidents using the False Claims Act.

The Department of Commerce (DOC) wants to see if structured dialogue around specified topics will improve overall acquisition.

“Successful acquisition outcomes depend on a clear understanding of industry dynamics and capabilities on the part of the government and a clear understanding of government mission and objectives on the part of industry,” reads DOC’s SAM.gov notice. “The GABE pilot program provides a forum for the exchange of information to enhance both government understanding of industry, and industry understanding of government.”

Vendor representatives must fill out a questionnaire to participate is sessions that will be scheduled on a first-request, topical-priority basis. DOC won’t guarantee every vendor will be assigned a session because the volume of requests may be high, and the relevance of certain cyber capabilities to the department’s mission may be low.

Vendors may provide read-ahead materials for the sessions, which will be conducted via teleconference, Microsoft Teams, Skype or another virtual format. In-person sessions may be held if COVID safeguards are established.

No vendor can engage with DOC more than once every six months to promote diversity, and the department will devote four hours per month to sessions — possibly more if a backlog develops.

“In order to preserve procurement integrity and to maintain the pre-established and authorized communication channels for active acquisitions, DOC will not use GABE sessions to answer any questions about acquisitions for which a draft or final solicitation has been publicized,” reads the notice. “Additionally DOC may refrain from fielding questions on any other acquisition matter in GABE sessions, in the interest of only providing such information in a public forum.”

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Acquisition, Cybersecurity, Department of Commerce (DOC)
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