NewsBrief December 11, 2020

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: December 11, 2020

DoD efforts to improve software acquisition hampered by gaps in understanding workforce

(Federal News Network) Responding to direction from Congress and recommendations from the Defense Innovation Board, a Pentagon working group is trying to bring more rigor to DoD’s management of its software acquisition workforce, including by adding more robust training and certification programs that focus on modern development methodologies. But before it can make meaningful progress on those fronts, the department faces a fundamental problem: It knows almost nothing about the software workforce as it exists today. There is virtually no data on how many software developers or software acquisition experts DoD employs, how well they’re compensated, how they’re hired or promoted, or what kind of training and education they already have. Read More

House approves plan to create AI strategy

(FCW) The United States is a step closer to setting a national strategy to maintain its lead in artificial intelligence technologies. On Dec. 8, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bipartisan nonbinding resolution to create an AI national strategy. The resolution was backed by Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) who have been pushing Congress for years for more money and resources for AI research and workforce development. The resolution, said Hurd and Kelly in a joint statement, was crafted with input from industry experts and the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC). The resolution identifies workforce development, national security, research and development and ethical use as key to an AI strategy. Read More

Expect SOCOM to be at the spearhead of AI testing in DOD

(fedscoop) U.S. Special Operations Command, the military’s elite joint force of fighters that operates globally, will be the test bed for new artificial intelligence applications in warfare, its commander said Monday. Army Gen. Richard Clarke said that SOCOM will be the first in the Department of Defense to be fully AI-enabled, using the emerging technology on everything from maintenance to fighting. “We are going to keep putting our money where our mouth is,” Clarke said during a Hudson virtual event on AI in the military. Read More

Leading With Decision-Driven Data Analytics

(MIT Sloan) If you were to ask any major CEO about good management practices today, data-driven decision-making would invariably come up. Companies have more data than ever, but many executives say their data analytics initiatives do not provide actionable insights and produce disappointing results overall. In practice, making decisions with data often comes down to finding a purpose for the data at hand. Companies look for ways to extract value from available data, but that doesn’t necessarily mean data analysts are answering the right questions. It’s also not a safeguard against the influence of preexisting beliefs and incentives. The solution is simple: Instead of finding a purpose for data, find data for a purpose. We call this approach decision-driven data analytics. Read More

DoD Extends Authority to Telework with Dependents in the Home

(Fedweek) In what amounts to a sign of an expectation that high numbers of its employees will continue to be teleworking for many months, DoD has extended through the first half of next year special provisions for employees with dependent care responsibilities. The general government-wide policy is that employees are not to telework at the same time they have dependents in the home who may need care at the same time, but that has been loosened since the spring when many employees were put on telework status as schools and day care centers meanwhile closed—many of which remain either fully or partially closed. Read More

DISA Nearing Completion on Certain EIS Task Orders

(Nextgov) The Defense Department is making progress in the transition to the General Services Administration’s $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions telecommunications contracting vehicle despite the time it took to develop an “entirely new business strategy,” according to the Defense Information Systems Agency. DISA, which is leading the move off Networx to EIS for DOD via its Defense Information Technology Contract Organization, said issuance of 52 task orders is “nearing completion” in a press release Tuesday. The coronavirus pandemic has neither stopped nor slowed the transition effort, according to DISA’s press release. Read More

How the pandemic pushed DOD’s network modernization efforts into warp speed

(fedscoop) It took a global pandemic to light a fire under the Department of Defense’s network modernization efforts, and now its senior IT leadership is trying to keep that fire going. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the DOD has made major technical and cultural shifts away from previous business models to support network modernization across the force in support of remote work. And beyond the Herculean technical feat of telework deployment across the DOD, the pandemic has pushed the culture of the force to be more technology-focused, giving greater value to IT transformation that is often talked about but less often delivered. Read More

Army Looks to Launch Next-Level, Automated Warehouse at Fort Hood

(Nextgov) The Army aims to completely reimagine—and subsequently transform—an existing Supply Support Activity warehouse into “a state-of-the-art, Model SSA” that taps artificial intelligence, robotics and more to speed up operations and help staff to be a little more hands-off. Officials in the Army Materiel Command, or AMC, are eyeing an existing facility in Fort Hood, Texas for the first proof-of-concept, according to a request for information published Monday. Potential partners for the technology-boosted transformation are invited to weigh in on what’s possible. Read More

Saturn and Jupiter to almost ‘kiss’ this winter solstice

( Saturn and Jupiter will appear to almost kiss this winter solstice, although not because of some cosmic mistletoe hanging overhead. Rather, the two gas giants will look as though they’re very close in the night sky in an event known as a “great conjunction,” which happens roughly every 20 years. In reality, Saturn and Jupiter will be hundreds of millions of miles apart from each other. Read More

NASA Tests 3D-Printed Parts for Future Spacecraft

(ExecutiveGov) NASA has demonstrated the hot-fire performance of 3D-printed rocket engine parts designed for future lunar landers. The space agency said Tuesday it tested a copper alloy combustion chamber and a hydrogen-resistant alloy-made nozzle that were produced via additive manufacturing. NASA’s Alabama-based Marshall Space Flight Center conducted the tests under the Long-Life Additive Manufacturing Assembly project that seeks to produce 3D-printed parts for lunar landers. Read More