NewsBrief August 21, 2020

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: August 21, 2020

The Pandemic is Pushing the Pentagon Toward Classified Telework

(Nextgov) Since the coronavirus reached pandemic status in March, the vast majority of remote work being performed by Defense Department employees is on the unclassified side. But the lingering pandemic is pushing the Pentagon and its agencies to launch various classified telework pilots that could forever change the way the department operates. As of August, the Defense Department has expanded its remote work capabilities tenfold to approximately 1 million personnel through its Commercial Virtual Remote collaboration environment, which facilitates the exchange of low-risk, unclassified data and communications among users. The move to facilitating the exchange of classified information remotely among users, however, represents a giant step for the risk-averse Pentagon. Yet it’s already happening in some pockets across the Defense Department. Read More

DISA expands cloud services, endpoint security as telework continues

(fedscoop) The Pentagon’s enterprise network agency is working to expand both its cloud service offerings and endpoint security to continue supporting mass telework, officials said Tuesday. The Defense Information Systems Agency wants to expand the tools and services in its cloud service, milDrive, to make it a “one-stop-shop” for any storage needs, Carissa Landymore, cloud storage chief at DISA, said in a Tuesday AFCEA webinar. The new focus is on the network’s edge — specifically, getting services, tools and other cloud-based products to users so they can continue to work virtually as the DOD looks to replace its virtual environment in the coming months with “enduring” Office 365. Read More

Rethinking AI talent strategy as automated machine learning comes of age

(McKinsey & Company) In recent years, as the promise of artificial intelligence (AI) crystallized across industries, organizations revamped their talent strategies to gain the skills necessary to deploy and scale AI systems. They hired legions of data scientists and other data experts to build AI applications, trained analytics translators to connect the business and technical realms, and upskilled frontline staff to use AI applications effectively. One role in particular, the data scientist, has been especially difficult for leaders to fill as competition for its illusive knowledge increased. Last year, employment-related search engine reported that job postings on its site for data scientists had more than tripled since December 2013. McKinsey Global Institute research has also highlighted the talent shortage and the potential for hundreds of thousands of positions to go unfilled. Read More

Leading Remotely Requires New Communication Strategies

(MITSloan) Managing a team remotely during COVID-19 has presented its own set of challenges, particularly for business leaders like me who are used to having open-door policies at work. We know our employees are facing new struggles and fears. They have all sorts of questions about the direction of the company, what’s expected of them, which projects are on hold, and more. But with the added prospects of caring for sick loved ones and kids at home while still trying to get their work done, many don’t have as much time to address these questions. This is especially true for workers who are putting in extra hours to try to help some of the most vulnerable people during this crisis. Read More

Navy information warfare project received $400 million ceiling increase

(C4ISRNET) WASHINGTON — An information warfare project run by Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) recently received a ceiling increase of hundreds of millions of dollars after a successful first 18 months, NAVWAR announced Aug. 17. NAVWAR’s Information Warfare Research Project (IWRP), which uses an agile acquisition tool known as an Other Transaction Authority to quickly contract for and deliver IW tools, recently received a $400 million ceiling boost and two-year performance period extension after hitting its $100 million ceiling a year before the project was set to expire next summer. Read More

Per Diem Rates Won’t Change Much Next Year, and More

(Government Executive) The General Services Administration last week announced its fiscal 2021 per diem rates for federal employees, which will go into effect October 1. Most of the rates will remain unchanged from this year. The standard Continental U.S. lodging rate will stay at $96, while 319 locations will receive a maximum lodging allowance higher than the standard rate. GSA has added one new location—Albuquerque, N.M.—to the list of non-standard areas, while the following locations will revert to the standard Continental U.S. rate: Gainesville, Fla.; Atlantic City, N.J.; College Station, Texas; and Abingdon, Va. In fiscal 2021, the Meal and Incidental Expense per diem rate will remain within the range of $55 to $76. Read More

Pentagon Launches New Task Force to Study UFOs

(Nextgov) The Pentagon set up a new investigative unit to probe puzzling UFO sightings and incidents reportedly encountered by U.S. military personnel, officials confirmed Friday. Officially assembled in early August, the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force, or UAPTF, will be steered by the Department of the Navy. Its formation follows increasing focus from Defense officials and Congress on unexplained flying objects spotted near military bases and restricted airspace. “[Defense] established the UAPTF to improve its understanding of, and gain insight into, the nature and origins of UAPs,” Pentagon officials wrote in a press release published Friday. “The mission of the task force is to detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security.” Read More