NewsBrief December 13, 2019

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: December 13, 2019

How the Pentagon’s AI team can benefit civilian agencies

(Federal Times) The General Services Administration expects that its new partnership with the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center will ultimately lead to significant benefits for civilian agencies. The GSA is working with JAIC, which was established last year to speed up AI adoption across the Pentagon, to accelerate the center’s process by adding AI into acquisition work, which GSA officials said they hope to turn around and offer civilian government. “We’re able to utilize a lot of that educational material [and] best practices that they’re getting and scale it up, standardize it in a sense so it can be spread among civilian agencies,” said Omid Ghaffari-Tabrizi, acquisition lead at the GSA Centers of Excellence, speaking Dec. 5 at the GovernmentCIO AI and RPA in Government conference. “All of the AI that we’re procuring for them, we’re also hoping to procure for ourselves,” Ghaffari-Tabrizi added. Read More

DOD wants prime contractors to be ‘help desk’ for new cybersecurity model

(FCW) The Defense Department is hoping large defense contractors will be cyber mentors for small businesses and startups as it rolls out its new cybersecurity standard next month. Ellen Lord, DOD’s acquisition chief, told reporters during a Dec. 10 briefing the department was attuned to small businesses cost-related concerns of its new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification. While there’s no mandate at work, Lord said big companies and industry associations should pitch in with help as the standard is implemented in 2020. “We know that this can be a burden to small companies in particular,” Lord said. “At this point, I don’t rule anything out, but I’m not envisioning waivers. I am envisioning the primes and the industry associations and the government with industrial policy really working as kind of the help desk, the help agent, enabling these companies to be compliant with a lot of support.” Read More

2020 will be ‘very telling’ for accelerating rollout of VA’s $2.5B financial management system

(fedscoop) The Department of Veterans Affairs chief financial officer asked Congress for another year to determine if his agency can accelerate the twice-delayed, 10-year deployment of a new financial management system. Speaking at a joint hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Oversight & Investigations and Technology Modernization subcommittees Thursday, Jon Rychalski said 10 years is “a long time” to update a 30-year-old system. But the success of the Financial Management Business Transformation modernization effort depends on the successful concurrent deployment of the VA’s modernized electronic health record and an upgraded medical logistics system. “None of us working on this program are satisfied with the 10-year deployment,” Rychalski said. “The next year will be very telling with respect to accelerating our schedule.” Read More

GAO Handbook Helps Answer Whether That New Tech Is Right For Your Agency

(Nextgov) The Government Accountability Office’s new technology assessment team published a handbook explaining its processes and providing a resource to other federal agencies—or any organization—trying to figure out whether a technology is right for its mission needs. The Technology Assessment Design Handbook was published by GAO’s new Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics Office, a team established to look at emerging technologies and provide unbiased information to Congress and other government leaders. As part of its work, the STAA Office looks at a range of issues around budding technologies, including how their uses can and will affect society; the risks and benefits of implementing those technologies; the status, viability and maturity; and any planned or ongoing federal investments. Read More

This State Found $117,000 in Double Payments Through Data Analytics

(Route Fifty) Within the 18 million payment transactions the state of Ohio makes each year, there are bound to be a few mistakes. But thanks to a new data analytics tool, the state has been able to reduce the number of times it double pays for services. A pilot program conducted through the state’s InnovateOhio Platform reviewed all payment transactions the state made from January through September. The review identified 56 duplicate payments totaling more than $117,000. The mistaken payments occurred across 22 different agencies, boards and commissions. “The tool scans every payment, pulls out the ones that might be flagged for duplication,” said Joshua Eck, communications director for Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who oversees InnovateOhio. Read More

A robot and software make it easier to create advanced materials

(ScienceDaily) A Rutgers-led team of engineers has developed an automated way to produce polymers, making it much easier to create advanced materials aimed at improving human health. The innovation is a critical step in pushing the limits for researchers who want to explore large libraries of polymers, including plastics and fibers, for chemical and biological applications such as drugs and regenerative medicine through tissue engineering. Read More

We’re using lasers and toaster-sized satellites to beam information faster through space

(The Conversation) Satellites are becoming increasingly important in our lives, as they help us meet a demand for more data, exchanged at higher speeds. This is why we are exploring new ways of improving satellite communication. Satellite technology is used to navigate, forecast the weather, monitor Earth from space, receive TV signals from space, and connect to remote places through tools such as satellite phones and NBN’s Sky Muster satellites. All these communications use radio waves. These are electromagnetic waves that propagate through space and, to a certain degree, through obstacles such as walls. Read More

A government agile veteran reflects

(FCW) Justin Fanelli is a principal engineer for the Navy. In 2009 he was working on IT at the Defense Information Systems Agency — he came to the Navy in 2012 — when he led one of the government’s first-ever agile software development implementations. Fanelli has since then led about a dozen agile projects, making him both agile pioneer and veteran. I got to know him when he participated in a recent executive education program at the Kennedy School. He has a youthful appearance — I ribbed him in class for wearing gel in his hair. He agreed to talk with me about his experience in agile implementations. Read More

Cloud, AI skills top list of talent needs for federal government CIOs, report finds

(fedscoop) Federal IT leaders foresee a significant need for a wide range of IT skills at their agencies over the next two years, with the greatest demand expected for specialists in cloud networking and application development, artificial intelligence, data analysis and enterprise engineering, according to a new survey. The rapid evolution of cloud-based computing services, the need to meet citizens’ digital services expectations and the explosive growth of data are placing significant pressure on the federal leaders to rethink their workforce needs. IT officials identified more than 20 IT skills that will be in demand in the next two to three years. Read More

How NASA’s Next Mars Rover Will Hunt for Alien Life

( SAN FRANCISCO — Spotting signs of long-dead life is a tall order for a lonely robot on a faraway world, but NASA’s next Mars rover should be up to the challenge, mission team members said. NASA’s 2020 Mars rover is scheduled to launch next summer and touch down in February 2021 inside the Red Planet’s 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater, which scientists think hosted a lake and river delta in the ancient past. Read More