NewsBrief: January 26, 2024

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: January 26, 2024

‘We will have to find the money’: After cost breach, Air Force doubles down on Sentinel ICBM

(Breaking Defense) As costs for the Air Force’s nuclear-tipped Minuteman III ICBM replacement balloon and its schedule slides by as much as two years, service officials today made clear that the LGM-35A Sentinel program will move forward — and that despite budgetary pressure, no alternative is viable. “We will have to find the money. Sentinel is going to be funded,” Lt. Gen. Rick Moore, Air Force deputy chief of staff for plans and programs, said during a discussion hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “One way not to solve this is to think that we can just extend Minuteman III. There is not a viable service life extension program that we can foresee for Minuteman III.” Read More

National Science Foundation rolls out NAIRR pilot with industry, agency support

(FedScoop) The National Science Foundation launched a pilot for the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource on Wednesday, giving U.S.-based researchers and educators unique access to a variety of tools, data, and support to explore the technology. The pilot for the resource, referred to as the NAIRR, is composed of contributions from 11 federal agencies and 25 private sector partners, including Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, NVIDIA, Intel, and IBM. Those contributions range from use of the Department of Energy’s Summit supercomputer to datasets from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to access for models from OpenAI, Anthropic, and Meta. Read More

US regulators have done little to address firmware vulnerabilities, think tank argues

(NextGov/FCW) The code embedded inside devices that bridges interactions between hardware and software is frequently exposed to security vulnerabilities, but lawmakers and federal officials have not paid enough attention to them, a national security think tank analysis argues. The report, released Wednesday by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, contends that firmware vulnerabilities remain largely unaddressed, despite ongoing U.S. efforts focused on shoring up the nation’s cybersecurity structure through sweeping regulations and standards. Firmware, the microsoftware responsible for telling hardware and software how to talk with one another on a device, enables several functions of modern computers but has gotten little attention across federal cybersecurity and technology initiatives, according to the report. Read More

UK leans on 4 land export ‘priority campaigns’ to chase $26 billion prize: Army chief

(Breaking Defense) The UK is pushing hard to secure lucrative export land vehicle and equipment contracts by focusing on “four priority campaigns” that could deliver a combined total of £20 billion ($26 billion) in new orders, but the strategy won’t work if rival aerospace and maritime campaigns receive greater political support, the head of the British Army warned today. Gen. Patrick Sanders, chief of the General Staff, explained during the IQPC International Armoured Vehicles Conference in London that the service is currently “seeing land export opportunities grow much faster than expected,” and pledged to turnaround the British Army’s dismal export track record that saw it contribute just 4 percent, equivalent to $4.5 billion, toward all UK military exports between 2012 and 2021. Read More

Expect ‘AI versus AI’ cyber activity between US and adversaries, Pentagon official says

(NextGov/FCW) Low-grade “AI versus AI” conflict in which artificial intelligence systems will be used by adversaries to carry out cyberattacks against the U.S. is likely to prevail in the near future, Jude Sunderbruch, the Defense Department’s Cyber Crime Center — or DC3 — director said Thursday. He spoke at DefenseScoop’s Google Defense Forum alongside Col. Richard Leach, the Defense Information Systems Agency’s intelligence director. “I think we’re really just at the start,” Sunderbruch said, later adding that the U.S. and its allies will have to get creative and learn how to best use currently-existing AI systems to gain a leg up on competing intelligence giants like China. Read More

It’s time to rethink GovCon pricing to align with post-pandemic reality

(Federal News Network) Commentary The landscape of government contracting pricing is stuck in a bygone era. In my 26th year as a business owner and contractor with hundreds of proposals under my belt, I’ve witnessed the complex evolution of pricing strategies and their practical implications. The post-pandemic market is completely at odds with the reality of pricing and hiring within government contracting. In the past, we submitted proposals with differentiated pricing for on-site versus off-site contract staff. Traditionally, on-site rates were set lower than off-site, sometimes by as much as 9%-to-10%. This was based on the assumption that on-site work incurred less overhead for the contractor, and therefore, the government received a discounted rate. Read More

A shallow lake in Canada could reveal how life on Earth began

( Scientists have discovered a lake that could be a good match for Darwin’s “warm little ponds” where life got started on the primordial Earth. A team of scientists from the University of Washington made the discovery when they found a shallow “soda lake” in western Canada that seems to have the chemistry and conditions that a small body of water would have needed to facilitate the spontaneous synthesis of complex molecules that led to the emergence life on Earth around 4 billion years ago. Soda lakes like the one in this research focuses on are small bodies of water containing high levels of dissolved carbonates and sodium, similar to having a large amount of baking soda dumped into them. Read More

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