NewsBrief: January 5, 2024

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: January 5, 2024

2023 was just the start of generative AI’s rise, government and industry leaders say

(NextGov/FCW) In August, Connecticut-based IT research and consulting firm Gartner – famous for its Magic Quadrant market research reports the tech industry i­­­­ntently monitors – weighed in on the 2023 hype surrounding generative artificial intelligence, projecting the technology would reach a “transformational benefit within two to five years.” “The popularity of many new AI techniques will have a profound impact on business and society,” said Arun Chandrasekaran, distinguished VP analyst at Gartner, in a press release. “The massive pretraining and scale of AI foundation models, viral adoption of conversational agents and the proliferation of generative AI applications are heralding a new wave of workforce productivity and machine creativity.” Read More

Bill sets transparency standards for AI models, including use of copyrighted material

(NextGov/FCW) Two House Democrats who have taken leading roles in tracking the societal impacts of artificial intelligence technologies recently introduced legislation that would require the creators of “foundational AI models” to work with federal agencies to set transparency standards for the data used to train their systems, including disclosing their use of any copyrighted materials. The AI Foundation Model Transparency Act was introduced on Dec. 22 by Reps. Don Beyer, D-Va., and Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. Beyer and Eshoo serve as vice-chair and co-chair, respectively, of the bipartisan Congressional Artificial Intelligence Caucus. Read More

OPM is on the hunt for a new CDO who will also be its chief AI officer

(FedScoop) Last month, Office of Personnel Management Chief Data Officer Ted Kaouk was appointed to a new position at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Now, the civil service-focused agency is on the hunt for a replacement who will serve in two other critical roles: chief artificial intelligence officer and responsible artificial intelligence official. The CFTC announced in late December that Kaouk, who confirmed the move on LinkedIn, would join its Division of Data as its chief data officer and director. John Coughlan, who was already working within the agency, was also promoted and will serve as the CFTC’s first chief data scientist. The chairman of the agency, Rostin Behnam, noted that their new roles came as CFTC upskills its data science staff. Read More

GSA announces new role to lead cloud strategy, governmentwide tech initiatives

(NextGov/FCW) The General Services Administration announced on Tuesday that Eric Mill will serve as the first executive director for cloud strategy in the agency’s Technology Transformation Services — or TTS. Mill will manage GSA’s “cloud security strategy and help lead the implementation of government-wide technology initiatives,” the agency said in a news release. A GSA spokesperson told Nextgov/FCW that the position is a newly created role within the agency. TTS oversees a range of technology and IT modernization initiatives within GSA, including the U.S. Digital Corps fellowship program and 18F, the agency’s digital consultancy that works with other federal agencies to help them acquire and deploy new technologies. Read More

Theale station footbridge to finally open 10 years after approval and following £8M cost hike

(New Civil Engineer) Funding for the design work for Theale station’s accessible footbridge was announced in 2013 while funding for delivery of the full project was to start in in 2015. This was deferred until 2021, when the programme was resumed and fully-funded by the Department for Transport (DfT). The cost of the bridge is now known to be to be £9.5M, a £8.25M increase from the original £1.25M that was quoted in 2013. According to Network Rail, the average accessible footbridge costs between £3-5M, but the rail operator says Theale station has three tracks and four platforms and is a very busy station for freight in particular. This means the opportunities to do work while trains are not running is limited and the extra width of the three tracks also means a longer span across the railway and more difficult construction. Read More

FAA rethinks its return-to-office policy, sets lower in-person goal than previously expected

(Federal News Network) The Federal Aviation Administration is bringing its employees back to the office more often later this month — but less often than it previously expected. The FAA expects telework-eligible employees with approved telework agreements will report in person to their official worksite for an average of four days each two-week pay period, starting Jan. 28. The agency revised its return-to-office expectations, after getting pushback last summer from the unions that represent the FAA workforce. The FAA previously announced its employees would return to the office at least three days per week — or six days per pay period — starting on Oct. 9, 2023. Read More

The Next Full Moon is the Cold, Frost or Winter Moon

( The next full Moon will be Tuesday evening, December 26, 2023, appearing opposite the Sun (in Earth-based longitude) at 7:33 PM EST. This will be on Wednesday in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and for most of Eurasia, Africa, and Australia. Many commercial calendars use UTC and will show this full Moon on Wednesday. The Moon will appear full for 3 days, from Monday evening to Thursday morning. The Maine Farmers’ Almanac began publishing “Indian” names for full Moons in the 1930s. Over time these names have become widely known and used. According to this almanac, as the full Moon in December this is the Cold Moon, due to the long, cold nights. Other names are the Frost Moon, for the frosts as winter nears or the Winter Moon. Read More

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