NewsBrief: January 27, 2023

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: January 27, 2023

The House Wants Agencies to Reveal the Deals They Cut to Avoid Lengthy Legal Battles

(Government Executive) The House on Tuesday passed a bill to shine a light on all settlement agreements entered into by federal agencies, with lawmakers saying stakeholders and Americans writ large deserve to know the details of those deals. The bipartisan Settlement Agreement Information Database (SAID) Act (H.R. 300) was approved in a unanimous vote. The measure would make public legally binding settlement agreements that agencies often enter into to avoid going through lengthy trials. Supporters of the bill said it would benefit state and local governments, industry stakeholders and taxpayers, all of whom are potentially impacted by the outcomes of the settlements. Read More

Revolutionary environmental artificial intelligence infrastructure detailed in new report

(Argonne National Laboratory) The use of artificial intelligence (AI) to help collect, understand and analyze large sets of information has the potential to revolutionize our ability to observe, understand and predict processes in the Earth’s systems. Researchers and scientists are working together to apply AI and modeling techniques such as machine learning (ML) to advance Earth and environmental science. Specifically, a group of scientists and experts aims to integrate modern technology in the work of Earth system models, observations and theory — as well as to provide computational capabilities that can deliver speed, accuracy and more-informed, agile decision-making. Read More

Biden Administration Begins Initiative to Expand Access to Capital for Small Businesses

(ExecutiveGov) The Biden administration is looking to strengthen the small businesses sector by expanding access to capital, investments, technical assistance and services required to support the companies’ growth initiatives. As part of the initiative, the administration has proposed rules to diversify the network of private funds and managers that provide long-term debt or equity investments to small businesses and extend additional licenses to nonbank lenders and community development financial institutions, the White House said Tuesday. Read More

DoD’s update to autonomous weapons policy accounts for AI’s ‘dramatic’ future role

(Breaking Defense) The Pentagon today updated its decade-old guidance on autonomous weapon systems to include advances made in artificial intelligence, a new senior-level oversight group and clarification about the roles different offices within the department will take. “I think one of… the things we sought to accomplish in the course of the update is clarifying the language to ensure a common understanding both inside and outside the Pentagon of what the directive says,” Michael Horowitz, director of the Pentagon’s Emerging Capabilities Policy Office, told reporters today ahead of the revised directive’s release, calling it “not a major policy change.” “The directive does not prohibit the development of any particular weapon system. It lays out requirements for autonomous and semi autonomous weapon systems.” Read More

Senators Urge GAO to Look at National Security Risks Posed by Contracting Conflicts of Interest

(ExecutiveGov) Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., have asked the Government Accountability Office to assess the national security risks associated with consulting firms doing business with both the U.S. government and the Chinese government and its affiliates. “Although firms doing business for the Chinese government or its associates may argue that structural divisions between corporate entities servicing the Chinese and American governments, respectively, are sufficient to eliminate security risks or conflicts of interest posed by their work – we remain concerned that information sharing within these companies may result in Chinese entities accessing or taking advantage of firms’ access to U.S. government data, classified or otherwise,” the lawmakers wrote in a Tuesday letter to Gene Dodaro, GAO’s comptroller general. Read More

CIA official ‘doesn’t envision’ chatbots replacing human analysts

(Federal News Network) The Central Intelligence Agency is using artificial intelligence and machine learning to parse through data and alert officials to global developments, but one of the agency’s top analysts doesn’t see ChatGPT or any other bots giving the president’s daily brief anytime soon. Linda Weissgold, deputy director for analysis at the CIA, said the agency has made “a lot of progress” in using artificial intelligence and machine learning, with the agency developing many tools in-house. Read More

Public Sector is Embracing Cloud, DevSecOps & AI Adoption Despite Existing Barriers, SAIC Survey Reports

(ExecutiveGov) Science Applications International Corp. has published the results of its Federal Response to Cloud, DevSecOps and AI survey, providing insight into federal progress in implementing cloud and artificial intelligence as well as fully applying the DevSecOps method, all of which have grown in prominence within recent years. Responses collected from over 375 information technology and business leaders across defense and civilian agencies revealed that while federal organizations are welcoming these novel tools, many are experiencing challenges in budgeting and implementation, SAIC announced from Reston, Virginia on Wednesday. Read More

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