NewsBrief February 19, 2021

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: February 19, 2021

Changes coming to federal cyber in wake of massive breach

(FCW) The White House today said it is planning “executive action” to address cybersecurity gaps that allowed a breach of nine federal agencies and about 100 private sector companies to persist undetected for months as part of government response to a wide ranging hack involving IT management software SolarWinds and other commercial products. “We’re also working on close to about a dozen things,” Anne Neuberger deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technology, said in a Wednesday press briefing in the White House. “Likely, eight will pass to be part of an upcoming executive action to address the gaps we have identified in our review of this incident.” Read More

CMMC language is in GSA’s latest contracts, but requirements will be order-specific

(fedscoop) Any new cybersecurity requirements the General Services Administration asks of contractors will be introduced at the order — not the contract — level, according to the deputy assistant commissioner of IT acquisition. While language from the Department of Defense‘s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) has been included in GSA‘s latest governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWACs), any application of its five levels will be order specific, Keith Nakasone, deputy assistant commissioner for acquisition in GSA’s Office of IT Category, said during an AFFIRM event Wednesday. Read More

With the submarine threat on the rise, the US Navy looks to autonomous water sensor drones

(DefenseNews) WASHINGTON – The U.S. Navy is collecting proposals for a new autonomous glider drone that can collect data — such as water temperatures over time — as a way to improve how it hunts for enemy submarines. The system will be the next generation of the current Littoral Battlespace Sensing Glider, which generally deploys from one of the Navy’s five oceanographic survey ships. That glider became the center of an international incident in 2016 when China seized the drone, calling it a hazard to navigation. The Navy would use the drones for measuring water conditions in places where it might expect to need to hunt submarines in the future and help guide fleet operational planning. Read More

Army looks beyond land targets with new electronic warfare system

(C4ISRNET) WASHINGTON — New electronic warfare capabilities show how the Army is extending beyond its traditional ground targets, with plans for a long-distance tool that spans oceans and is a key contribution to the joint service fight. With advanced adversaries forcing the Army to operate across against greater distances, the service recently unveiled its proposal for the electronic warfare tool, dubbed the Terrestrial Layer System-Echelons Above Brigade. “We are trying to optimize TLS-EAB so that when it arrives in the Pacific, it’s the most relevant it can be to those commanders,” Col. Daniel Holland, Army capability manager for electronic warfare, said at a Feb. 16 virtual presentation for AFCEA TechNet Augusta. Read More

AI Could Quicken Disease Diagnoses and Save Lives

(FedTech) For some diseases, a quick diagnosis is critical. Federal scientists are working to improve patient care with another tool for medical professionals’ kits: artificial intelligence. Most work is still in the research phase, but experts are optimistic that AI and machine learning will soon be able to widely support doctors — especially pathologists and radiologists. The ­technological tools won’t replace human healthcare workers, though. “It’s not taking anybody out of the loop,” says Dr. Andrew Borkowski, chief of the Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, Fla. “It’s more like a physician/AI team.” Read More

31st MEU tests artificial intelligence sensing gear to help Marines, soldiers see invisible threats

(MarineTimes) Marines and soldiers at the squad level could soon have their own kind of “attention warning” system while on foot patrol ― much like modern car drivers have for lane changing on busy highways. A combination of systems being tested soon by Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit out of Okinawa, Japan, are helping Marines at the lowest-unit levels use artificial intelligence and sensing capabilities to know if there are threats of drones overhead or simply to remind them to check their left flank. The experiments are the last for a yearslong program called Squad X, run by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Since at least 2017, the program delved into four key technology areas as they applied to the squad: precision engagement, non-kinetic engagement, squad sensing and squad autonomy. Read More

NASA sends AI to space with first commercial edge computing system

(fedscoop) When you need computing power at the edge, often that means buying extra hardware for far-flung offices or maybe loading a system on to a truck. But for some agencies, getting compute to the edge means going to infinity, and beyond. Thursday, NASA and Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced that they will test the limits of the term “edge computing” with a new computer designed to deliver artificial intelligence in space. Later this month, the new Spaceborne Computer-2 will become the first high-performance commercial computer to operate in space on the International Space Station. Read More

NASA Assigns Astronauts to Agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 Mission to Space Station

(NASA) NASA has assigned two crew members to launch on the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission – the fourth crew rotation flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station. NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Bob Hines will serve as spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively, for the Crew-4 mission. Additional crew members will be assigned as mission specialists in the future by the agency’s international partners. The mission is expected to launch in 2022 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Lindgren, Hines, and the international crew members will join an expedition crew aboard the space station for a long-duration stay. Read More

The sounds of Mars: NASA’s Perseverance rover will put ears on the Red Planet for the 1st time

( We’re about to experience Mars in an entirely new way. NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover will land on Thursday (Feb. 18), kicking off a pioneering surface mission that will hunt for signs of ancient life, collect and cache samples for future return to Earth, and demonstrate a Red Planet helicopter and other advanced exploration tech. Perseverance is also equipped with two microphones, which will break new ground as well. Past rovers have seen, touched, tasted and smelled Mars in their own robotic fashion, but none has yet captured true audio on the Red Planet. Read More

Agencies Told to Clearly Communicate Operating Status Changes

(Fedweek) OPM has told agencies to consistently inform employees, including those on telework, of operating status changes due to severe weather and other reasons. In a memo, OPM said it “strongly encourages” agencies to review its policies on closing, late arrivals, early dismissals and other changes, which “reflect the principle that the federal government’s vital business must continue without compromising the safety of our employees or the general public.” Read More