NewsBrief April 3, 2020

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: April 3, 2020

Federal agencies collaborate on developing 3D-printed masks

(fedscoop) Three federal agencies have banded together to develop 3D printing models for masks as hospital systems run low on personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic. The Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health and Department of Veterans Affairs signed a memorandum of understanding to share lessons learned, data and technical information on producing masks for health care workers with 3D printers. The federal partnership also coincides with a public-private partnership with nonprofit America Makes for the agencies to connect with medical facilities who are in need of the masks. Read More

NASA, Northrop Begin Final Tests for James Webb Space Telescope

(ExecutiveGov) NASA and Northrop Grumman have demonstrated the capacity of the James Webb Space Telescope’s primary mirror to reflect light and obtain as much detail as possible from outer space. The agency said Wednesday that the telescope will use the same configuration for its 21-foot mirror upon its launch in 2021. Testing procedures for Webb and its mirror began last month at Northrop’s facility in Redondo Beach, Calif. During the assessment, teams used special equipment to mimic zero-gravity environments to assess the telescope’s capacity to operate and maneuver in space Read More

DoD plan to classify spending plans gets thumbs down from almost everyone

(Federal News Network) The Defense Department is getting what seems like almost universal pushback on its legislative proposal to classify its spending plans for future years. The Pentagon floated the proposal for the 2021 defense authorization bill. It would hide the Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP) from the public, the Congressional Research Service and the Government Accountability Office. The FYDP calculates what DoD thinks it will spend on programs and services five years out from the present. DoD would provide Congress with a combined classified and unclassified FYDP under the proposal. Read More

Microsoft earns authorization to handle DOD secret-level information

(fedscoop) Microsoft is now approved to host production workloads at the secret classified level for the Department of Defense and other national security missions. The new authority is a key component of the company’s ability to deliver on its award in the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract. Tom Keane, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for Azure Global, announced in a blog post that the company’s Azure Secret Government cloud service has achieved a provisional authority to host DOD data at impact level 6 (IL6) — categorized as classified national security information. On top of that, Keane announced Microsoft has met a pair of risk management directives necessary to perform key work with intelligence community agencies. Read More

Coronavirus and technology supply chains: How to restart and rebuild

(McKinsey & Company) For the technology industry, the effects of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which causes COVID-19 disease, started to take hold in January when China—a critical link in the global technology chain—began reporting more cases. And while the country’s early lockdowns and quarantines are slowly beginning to lift, the pandemic’s international expansion is leading to new restrictions across the globe that are weighing on business activity. Consequently, the technology supply chain now faces a new set of challenges. China itself poses several operational questions. Over the past few weeks, major progress in reducing labor constraints in China occurred (Exhibit 1). We estimate that by March 24, 2020, around 75 percent of the country’s workforce had returned to work. Read More

COVID Response Delays Awards for GSA’s E-Commerce Platform Pilots

(Nextgov) The General Services Administration’s ongoing journey to develop multiple e-commerce platforms for agency buyers will continue for a bit longer, this time due to the urgent response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency has been working for more than two years on a pilot program—colloquially called “Amazon for government”—to partner with digital purchasing platforms to enable other federal agencies to more easily buy goods under the $10,000 micropurchase threshold. Originally, GSA planned to have at least two platforms up and running this year, though the coronavirus outbreak has thrown that timeline into limbo.Read More

USNS Mercy arrives in Los Angeles to support Covid-19 response

(Navy Times) The hospital ship USNS Mercy arrived in Los Angeles, California, on Friday after departing Monday from Naval Base San Diego. “The men and women of the USNS Mercy and the United States Navy are honored to be here in Los Angeles supporting FEMA, the state of California, and the city in their ongoing Covid-19 relief efforts,” Rear Adm. John Gumbleton, commander of the Expeditionary Strike Group Three, said in a statement Friday. Read More

Federal R&D spending on AI should be doubled, then doubled again, commission says

(fedscoop) Congress should double research and development spending on artificial intelligence in fiscal 2021 and then double it once again the following year, according to new recommendations from an independent commission on America’s development of AI. The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence issued a quarterly report Wednesday with 43 recommendations to the legislative and executive branches that are “in the most need of immediate attention, ripe for action, or foundational to AI and national security issues.” Read More

Using augmented reality to prepare Orion hardware

(Moon Daily) Augmented reality, also known as AR, is a powerful tool that engineers are using to enable NASA to send humans to the Moon under the agency’s Artemis program. Lockheed Martin, lead contractor for NASA’s Orion spacecraft, is currently using AR to increase efficiency in building the spacecraft for Artemis II, the first crewed mission aboard Orion. Mary Lakaszcyck, a technician with ASRC Federal Data Solutions, a subcontractor to Lockheed Martin, wears a pair of AR goggles as she places tape in locations where technicians will install parts on Orion’s crew module adapter. The work is taking place in the high bay of the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Read More

Managing Stress and Emotions When Working Remotely

(MITSloan) As COVID-19 continues to spread around the globe, more and more of us are starting to make changes to the way we work. Google, Microsoft, Trader Joe’s, Gap, and United Airlines are among a growing number of U.S. companies that have already acted to address their workers’ most immediate employment concerns stemming from the pandemic, including recommending or requiring employees to work from home, offering more paid sick leave, or maintaining wages in spite of reduced hours. We’ve spent the past four years studying the science of emotions and their intersection with our lives at work. In our research, we’ve spoken to thousands of remote workers around the world, and from these conversations — and our own personal remote work experiences — we can attest that feeling isolated is common when working from home. Living with uncertainty in the face of a pandemic makes the current situation even more stressful. Read More