NewsBrief August 23, 2019

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: August 23, 2019

DoD processed nearly $1 billion in erroneous travel payments from 2016 to 2018

(MilitaryTimes) The Department of Defense processed nearly $1 billion in improper travel payments to service members and civilian employees over a three year span, a Government Accountability Office report found. Improper travel payments, classified as amounts that should have either not been distributed at all or were dished out in an incorrect sum, have long been a thorn in the government’s side, with service members either often receiving too much money, or no money at all, for international travel expenditures. Read More now has a home for (most) agency budget justifications

(fedscoop) Central government spending data repository now curates access to an additional kind of budget data — Congressional Budget Justifications. And transparency advocates say it’s a step in the right direction. A visit to the “Agencies” tab on the site now yields a list of links to 64 out of 101 agency budget justifications for fiscal year 2020 — plain-language documents in which federal agencies explain how they plan to spend any appropriated money. Read More

The General Services Administration decided to extend its Transaction Data Reporting (TDR) pilot through fiscal year 2020, a program GSA has said saves the government millions, according to a Aug. 14 news release. The TDR rule allowed GSA to remove “complex and burdensome” tracking and disclosure requirements mandated on contractors, in addition to asking contractors to electronically report specific procurement data, like prices paid, quantity and product description. Read More

As part of its big effort to consolidate its dozens of buying schedules into a single one, the General Services Administration is looking at removing a category of “grayware” IT products, according to one of the agency’s top IT category managers. GSA sought comment on the proposed rule change via FedBizOpps on June 24. The changes would gradually eliminate the sale of used and refurbished computer equipment in about four years. Read More

MDA Chief Jon Hill Puts Focus on Hypersonics, Space-Based Capabilities

(ExecutiveGov) Vice Adm. Jon Hill, director of the Missile Defense Agency, said that Congress and the Department of Defense are focused on developing hypersonic and ballistic tracking technologies, Defense News reported Tuesday. Hill noted that emerging threats remain a big challenge for MDA and the agency is in the process of updating its existing weapons and sensors for both terrestrial and space-based missions. Read More

Air Force Tests Contraption That Can Turn Any Plane Into a Robot Plane

(Defense One) Air Force scientists have announced that they had tested a robot kit that can turn virtually any plane into a self-piloting drone, through a program called ROBOpilot. Why is that important? For starters, planes and drones are expensive. The drone shot down over Iran last month cost $220 million. For years the military has rushed to fund fabulous, exquisite drones of all shapes and sizes. Read More

NGA inks $824 million modernization deal with Perspecta

(fedscoop) The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency recently inked a secretive $824 million deal with Perspecta to up its “integration” across enterprise systems in an effort to increase big data analytics and cloud computing. The award of the indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract to Perspecta, a government services provider, contained thin details on what exactly will be done. Perspecta has already been awarded a $223 million task order on the contract. Read More

Space Command to launch Aug. 29

(DefenseNews) WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will stand up a new combatant command before the end of the month, with the official launch of U.S. Space Command set for Aug. 29. Speaking at a meeting of the National Space Council on Tuesday, Gen. Joe Dunford, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced the date for the standup of the new organization, the first combatant command to be fully stood up since Africa Command was created in 2009. Read More

HS2: Review to examine costs and benefits of rail project

(BBC News) The government is launching a review of high-speed rail link HS2 – with a “go or no-go” decision by the end of the year, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said. It will consider whether and how the project to connect London, the Midlands and northern England should proceed. Billions have already been spent, but Mr Shapps refused to rule out scrapping it entirely. Read More

Japan Firms Up on F-35B; F-16s Approved for Taiwan

(AINonline) As expected, the Japanese Ministry of Defense formally approved the acquisition of 42 Lockheed Martin F-35Bs to operate from short airstrips and the Izumo-class helicopter carriers, which are to be modified to be capable of F-35 operations. The brief August 16 announcement follows the December 2018 publication of Japan’s Medium-Term Defense Plan, which outlined the intention to buy F-35Bs. Read More