NewsBrief February 7, 2020

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: February 7, 2020

What Separates Analytical Leaders From Laggards?

(MITSloan) Information technology changes at a rapid pace, but organizational adoption of it often doesn’t. Fourteen years ago, one of us (Davenport) wrote an article about how companies were beginning to compete on analytics. In the years that followed, data and analytics seemed to become embedded in business culture. Whether these tools were called analytics, big data, or artificial intelligence, organizations of all sizes and types supposedly embraced these resources as a way to improve decision-making and enhance offerings. How to explain, then, a recent Deloitte survey of U.S. executives that found that only 10% of companies are competing on their analytical insights, and that the most popular tool for analyzing data — used by 62% of companies responding to the survey — is the spreadsheet? Our survey results clearly show that analytical competitors represent a minority of businesses today, despite the number of years technologies like big data and analytics have been readily available. Read More

A milestone for the Air Force’s experimental navigation satellite

(C4ISRNET) An experimental Air Force navigation satellite has passed its preliminary design review, continuing a path to launch in 2022, the program’s primary contractor L3Harris Technologies announced Feb. 5. Navigation Technology Satellite 3 (NTS-3) is a major vanguard program being developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Space and Missile Systems Center to demonstrate new positioning, navigation and timing technologies that will inform how future GPS satellites work. “The NTS-3 vanguard is an experimental, end-to-end demonstration of agile, resilient space-based positioning, navigation, and timing,” said Arlen Biersgreen, Air Force NTS-3 Program Manager. “It has the potential for game-changing advancements to the way the Air Force provides these critical capabilities to warfighters across the Department of Defense. The commitment demonstrated by United States Space Force to partner with AFRL and support technology transition was a key element in NTS-3 being designated as an Air Force vanguard in September 2019.” Read More

The Army Wants Technology that Can See Through Walls—and Identify People on the Other Side

(Nextgov) People can’t see through walls but the Army wants to pioneer next-level technology that will help soldiers do exactly that—with the added bonus of instantaneously offering advanced, penetrating insights that go far beyond what meets the eye. According to a recent request for information, the Army is accepting white papers to identify commercially available technologies that could help spur its development of a “sense through the wall system.” In the Army’s ideal world, that system would distinguish for soldiers exactly what—and precisely who—is on the other side of the solid structures before them. “The intent of this market survey is to identify potential man-portable systems that give the Soldier the ability to detect, identify, and monitor persons, animals, and materials behind multi-leveled obstruction(s) from a long standoff range,” officials wrote in the special notice. “The sensor system will also be able to map the structure and detect hidden rooms, passages, alcoves, caches, etc. including those underground.” Read More

MDA taps industry to build interceptor to defend against hypersonic threats

(DefenseNews) WASHINGTON — The U.S. Missile Defense Agency is tapping industry to design and build an interceptor capable of defending against regional hypersonic weapons threats, releasing a draft request for proposals to build prototypes. The request directs industry to submit whitepapers by March 19 to build a Hypersonic Defense Regional Glide Phase Weapons System interceptor, with plans to select at least one prime contractor to build a prototype that would culminate in a flight test, according to the draft RFP with an updated issue date of Jan. 30 and posted to, the federal government’s contact opportunities website. The agency notes that negotiations following review of whitepapers and oral presentations could result in no awards, one or multiple. Read More

GSA launches second phase of buying schedule consolidation

(FCW) The General Services Administration is sending out notices to vendors about changes that align their contracts with the unified contracting effort the agency is conducting to harmonize its offerings. The “mass modification” notices to schedule holders marks the entry into the second phase of its effort to combine two dozen Multiple Award Schedules into a single schedule for products, services and solutions, the agency said in a Jan. 31 statement. The consolidated MAS solicitation issued last October, has a simplified format, streamlined terms and conditions, and new categories and Special Item Numbers. Read More

Army Eyes AI-Based Imaging Tech to Support Battlefield Activities

(ExecutiveGov) The U.S. Army has launched an effort to use artificial intelligence to process imagery from manned and unmanned systems that will help warfighters identify incoming threats, FedScoop reported Monday. The AI-driven systems, known as Aided Threat Recognition from Mobile Cooperative and Autonomous Sensors, will collate data from airborne systems as well as vehicles and autonomous platforms in real-time. Soldiers can also use mobile devices to customize ATR-MCAS data appearing o their feed. Read More

Highway Administration to Explore How AI and Blockchain Can Transform Transportation

(Nextgov) The Federal Highway Administration launched an Exploratory Advanced Research Program this week to usher in “transformational changes and truly revolutionary advances” in highway engineering and intermodal transportation on roads across the United States. According to a new broad agency announcement, the administration is accepting research effort proposals—with the deliberate intent of awarding either contracts or cooperative agreements—that address three trendy topics in emerging tech: blockchain for highway transportation, artificial intelligence for highway transportation, and incorporating trashed plastic into asphalt cement to reduce waste. Read More

Agencies look to ‘low code’ to speed development

(FCW) Federal agencies are taking on “low-code” software development methods to modernize externally facing operations, with some completing transforming of all their customer-facing systems, according to key IT and tech developers. “We’re almost done modernizing. We should be finished in the next month,” said Ed Dowgiallo, principal solutions architect at the Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration. Speaking at ATARC’s Feb. 6 conference on low-code development, Dowgiallo said FTA had redeveloped its case management systems using low-code, fast-app development processes with Appian. The FTA provides financial support for public transit systems across the country. Read More

NASA Astronaut’s Record-Setting Mission Helps Scientists for Future Missions

(NASA) NASA astronaut Christina Koch is set to return to Earth on Thursday, Feb. 6, after 328 days living and working aboard the International Space Station. Her mission is the longest single spaceflight by any woman, which is helping scientists gather data for future missions to the Moon and Mars. Koch will return to Earth alongside ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov. She has been a crew member for three expeditions – 59, 60 and 61 – during her first spaceflight. She now holds the record for the second-longest single spaceflight by a U.S. astronaut, which places her seventh on the list of U.S. space travelers for overall time in space. Former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly holds the longest single spaceflight for U.S. astronauts at 340 days, set during his one-year mission in 2015-16. Read More

Getting practical about the future of work

(ExecutiveGov) What story will people tell about your organization over the next ten years? Will they celebrate an enthusiastic innovator that thrived by adapting workforce skills and ways of working to the demands of the new economy? Or will they blame poor financial or operational results, unhappy employees, and community disruption on a short-sighted or delayed talent strategy? Our modeling shows that by 2030, up to 30 to 40 percent of all workers in developed countries may need to move into new occupations or at least upgrade their skill sets significantly. Research further suggests that skilled workers in short supply will become even scarcer. Some major organizations are already out front on this issue. Amazon recently pledged $700 million to retrain 100,000 employees for higher-skilled jobs in technology (for example, training warehouse employees to become basic data analysts). JPMorgan Chase made a five-year, $350 million commitment to develop technical skills in high demand—in part targeting its own workers. Read More