NewsBrief January 31, 2020

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: January 31, 2020

DOD’s final cyber standards for contractors coming this week

(fedscoop) The Department of Defense’s new cybersecurity certification standards for contractors are officially arriving later this week, and the plan is to have about 1,500 companies certified by next year as the requirements start to pop up in contracts, officials said Tuesday. For now, the program’s newly formed certification board is preparing to train and certify assessors, but it does not have a projection as to how many of the cybersecurity specialists will initially be available and when, board member Mark Berman said. The board, a nonprofit, is housed outside of DOD. The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification process will subject all DOD contractors to third-party cybersecurity assessments, with the goal of protecting the military’s entire supply chain. The program is replacing the DOD’s current reference document — the National Institute of Science and Technology’s standards for cybersecurity — with a five-level rating system. Read More

Government developing AI use case repository for agencies facing challenges

(fedscoop) The General Services Administration’s tech services arm plans to quickly develop a library of artificial intelligence use cases that agencies can refer to as they start to invest in the emerging technology. GSA’s Technology Transformation Services launched a community of practice that will see agencies meet Feb. 12 to codefine “practice areas” where they see challenges adopting AI. A use case library may reveal additional practice areas, Steve Babitch, head of TTS’s AI portfolio, said at a GSA event Wednesday. “The harder we start to build that repository of use cases and build in a searchable database, if you will, that can sort of blossom into other facets as well — different themes or aspects of use cases,” Babitch said. “Maybe there’s actually a component around culture and mindset change or people development.” Read More

GSA Official: Agencies Should Build Testing Data and Environments Specifically for AI

(Nextgov) For a machine-learning algorithm to be truly—and, in some cases, just marginally—effective, it needs to be trained using data sets that are as close to real-life collections as possible. However, when it comes to developing new products in tandem with the federal government, agencies are often reticent to share sensitive data with untested programs and companies. Federal agencies are under mandate to protect the data they collect, particularly when it comes to people’s personally identifiable information or companies’ intellectual property. To ensure sensitive data isn’t lost or stolen through a third-party platform, IT products and services sold to agencies must have an authority to operate, or ATO—an often time- and money-consuming process that slows deployment but ensures a baseline of security. Read More

DoD’s top IT official talks AI, JEDI, and how to win over the commercial tech community

(C4ISRNET) When Pentagon leaders talk about the tools they will need to win future wars, two capabilities consistently come up: the cloud and artificial intelligence. The official leading those efforts is Dana Deasy, the Defense Department’s chief information officer. The former top IT executive at JPMorgan and BP, Deasy is leading what some might call a transformation at the Pentagon to modernize enterprise IT and better arm the war fighter for the future fight. He spoke recently with Jill Aitoro, executive editor of C4ISRNET and its sister brand Defense News, about the tech priorities for the department — and how that Amazon protest of the department’s enterprise cloud contract award impacts his plans. Read More

Supply chain risk management is back

(McKinsey & Company) Today’s complex and long supply chains are almost inevitably subject to disruption. But the stakes seem to have risen, whether due to intensifying trade disputes and political upheavals (of which Brexit is only one example), or to high-cost natural disasters plaguing more of the world. As a result, we hear more global companies questioning how to assess and manage these risks and prepare their supply chains accordingly. Which precautionary measures make sense, and how much do they differ by industry? We conducted research by interviewing supply-chain managers across Europe to understand how they assess risks, what they do to prepare, and how they respond to disruptions. Read More

Don’t panic, but companies are harvesting data straight from your brain

(Quartz) Imagine if corporations could wire advertisements straight into your brain. They’d probably ping you with a soap commercial right when you were in the middle of taking a shower and ask you to pay twenty bucks a month for an ad-free showering experience. Except once you paid, the experience wouldn’t actually be ad-free, because the deal’ would only be valid for selected brands. It’s hard not to worry about a future like that sometimes. But you don’t need to worry—because in a sense, that future is already here. In 2002, an advertising firm called BrightHouse issued a press release saying that one of their groups, BrightHouse Neurostrategies, would start using brain scans, based on MRI technology, to study potential buyers as part of their marketing research. As you can imagine, the concept was not well-received and the firm ended up having to pull its website. BrightHouse continues to function as a marketing consultancy, and for the most part, the whole idea was more or less ignored for some time. Read More

NASA Selects First Commercial Destination Module for International Space Station

(NASA) NASA has selected Axiom Space of Houston to provide at least one habitable commercial module to be attached to the International Space Station as the agency continues to open the station for commercial use. “NASA has once again recognized the hard work, talent, and experience of Houstonians as we expand the International Space Station and promote commercial opportunities in space,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. “I’m proud Axiom will continue to build upon Texas’ legacy of leading the nation in human space exploration.” This selection is a significant step toward enabling the development of independent commercial destinations that meet NASA’s long-terms needs in low-Earth orbit, beyond the life of the space station, and continue to foster the growth of a robust low-Earth orbit economy. Read More

Russian Space Agency confirms plans to launch nuclear-powered space tug by 2030

(Space Daily) The secrecy-laden project, in development since 2010, is intended to facilitate the transportation of large cargoes in deep space, including for the purpose of creating permanent bases on other planets in our solar system. Roscosmos plans to deliver a nuclear-powered space tug into orbit by the year 2030, agency first deputy director Yuri Urlichich has confirmed. In a presentation at the ongoing Korolev Academic Space Conference in Moscow, Urlichich explained that the tug will be launched in 2030 for flight testing, with series production and commercial use to begin after that. Read More

US Navy’s first Triton drones arrive in Guam

(Defense News) WASHINGTON — Two new U.S. Navy drones arrived in Guam over the weekend for their first mission in the Pacific region, expanding the reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities in the area, the service said in a Jan. 27 news release. The MQ-4C Triton drones, manufactured by Northrop Grumman, will serve as part of an early operational capability to develop a concept of operations for the high-altitude, long-endurance systems, according to the Navy. “The inaugural deployment of Triton UAS brings enhanced capabilities and a broad increase in Maritime Domain Awareness to our forward Fleet commanders,” Rear Adm. Peter Garvin, commander of the Patrol and Reconnaissance Group, said in the release. Read More

Japan Eyes Partnership With US for Artemis Moon Mission

(ExecutiveGov) Japan’s space agency is seeking to partner with its U.S. counterpart for the Artemis lunar exploration mission, SpaceNews reported Monday. Yoshikazu Shoji, director of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s international relations and research department, said in a presentation at the agency’s Washington, D.C. office that it wants to negotiate a memorandum of understanding with NASA to provide contributions to the lunar gateway. Read More