NewsBrief: August 25, 2023

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: August 25, 2023

Legacy mindset’ a key obstacle to effective data governance, Energy official says

(NextGov/FCW) The new chief data officer for the Department of Energy said Tuesday that “a legacy mindset towards data control” is one of the biggest obstacles preventing federal agencies from advancing enterprise data and analytics programs and developing comprehensive data sets. Robert King, who was appointed nearly two months ago to serve as the department’s new head of data management and policy, said the traditional government culture around data ownership can hinder collaboration across agencies and make it difficult for them to establish complete and thorough data collections. Read More

Agriculture Department is taking a ‘cautious’ approach to generative AI

(NextGov/FCW) The Agriculture Department is approaching generative artificial intelligence cautiously as it wades through questions about the technology’s efficacy, as well as potential impacts on privacy, equity and security, Chris Alvares, the department’s responsible AI officer and chief data officer, said during a Nextgov/FCW event on Wednesday. “I do see a lot of opportunities, a lot of potential, for generative AI to help USDA be more efficient, deliver programs more effectively, understand the complexity of our organization and be able to describe that better than we can today without those tools,” he said. “But there’s a lot of uncertainty around how to use those tools… in a federal agency and how to do that safely and securely, so we need to take a cautious approach.” Read More

House bill would require federal contractors to adopt cyber vulnerability disclosure policy

(Federal News Network) Vulnerability disclosure policies have proliferated throughout federal agencies in recent years, and if a new House bill ends up becoming law, federal contractors would have to adopt policies for accepting vulnerability information from security researchers as well. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) today announced the Federal Cybersecurity Vulnerability Reduction Act of 2023. Mace is chairwoman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee’s cybersecurity, information technology and government innovation subcommittee. The bill would require the White House Office of Management and Budget to lead updates to the Federal Acquisition Regulation that ensure federal contractors implement a vulnerability disclosure policy. Read More

How DoD is thinking ‘outside the box’ to solve its cyber workforce challenges

(Breaking Defense) The Pentagon is taking a new approach to help solve its cyber workforce retaining and recruitment challenges, one that will require thinking “outside the box” and a cultural shift within the department itself, Mark Gorak, principal director for resources and analysis for the Pentagon’s chief information officer, tells Breaking Defense. At the center of that, he said during an Aug. 16 interview, is the department’s new cyber workforce implementation plan, unveiled earlier this month following the publication of DoD’s Cyber Workforce Strategy. Read More

Threat actor targeted DOD contracting website

(NextGov/FCW) Malware leveraging flaws in edge routers has been observed siphoning data from public-facing U.S. military websites, according to a recent blog post from Black Lotus Labs. The cyber research firm first reported on the exploit, dubbed HiatusRAT, in March. The threat group associated with the effort continued its campaign despite public exposure. In June, the malware was observed targeting military systems as well as those associated with organizations based in Taiwan. Researchers characterized these efforts as reconnaissance, but the HiatusRAT exploit can also be highly invasive, allowing threat actors to monitor targeted machines and networks and capture router traffic. Read More

OPM clarifies pay rules for teleworkers who must travel during work

(Government Executive) The Office of Personnel Management on Monday issued new guidance to help agencies and federal employees who either telework or work remotely understand when they’re eligible to be paid for their time traveling to or from traditional work sites. “As the federal workplace landscape changes, agencies must continue to correctly apply the rules concerning hours of work for all federal employees, including those who are teleworkers and remote workers,” wrote Veronica Hinton, OPM’s associate director for employee services in a memo to agency HR directors. Read More

How artificial intelligence gave a paralyzed woman her voice back

(Science Daily) Researchers at UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley have developed a brain-computer interface (BCI) that has enabled a woman with severe paralysis from a brainstem stroke to speak through a digital avatar. It is the first time that either speech or facial expressions have been synthesized from brain signals. The system can also decode these signals into text at nearly 80 words per minute, a vast improvement over commercially available technology. Edward Chang, MD, chair of neurological surgery at UCSF, who has worked on the technology, known as a brain computer interface, or BCI, for more than a decade, hopes this latest research breakthrough, appearing Aug. 23, 2023, in Nature, will lead to an FDA-approved system that enables speech from brain signals in the near future. Read More

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