NewsBrief: July 16, 2022

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: July 15, 2022

Watchdog report identifies four agencies with lower quality spending data

(FedScoop) The federal agencies with the most incomplete and opaque spending data reported include the Federal Communications Commission, the Agriculture Department, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, and the U.S. African Development Foundation, according to a federal spending transparency report released Tuesday. Spending data reported at the end of 2021 by the Offices of Inspector General (OIG) at 57 federal agencies were analyzed by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), which found that while most agencies had high or excellent quality of data reporting, there were four agencies that had ‘lower’ quality spending data reported and eight that had ‘moderate’ quality data. Read More

DoD Loosens Travel Restrictions for Civilian Employees, Others

(FedWeek) The Pentagon has loosened travel restrictions on DoD civilian personnel and others, in the first major change to pandemic-related policies since it consolidated in early April policies previously scattered across numerous issuances. The changes: remove pre-travel viral testing requirements for military service members, DoD family members, DoD civilian employees, and DoD contractor personnel; remove additional guidance relating to travel testing requirements, including exceptions from those requirements; and incorporate recommendations regarding pre-travel testing for all travelers arriving in the United States through or from a foreign country. Read More

White House wrangles with Congress over ship, aircraft retirements

(DefenseNews) The White House on Tuesday doubled down on a brewing fight with Congress over legislative efforts that would prevent the retirement of several ships and aircraft as well as the scrapping of a nuclear modernization program. With the House set to vote on the National Defense Authorization Act later this week, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget released a statement that said it “strongly opposes” congressional efforts to block its retirement and divestment plans. The White House argued that blocking its efforts “to divest or retire lower priority platforms” inflated the top line of the $840 billion defense authorization bill, which already stands at $37 billion more than President Joe Biden’s budget request. Read More

Return-to-office plans a major cause for decline in 2021 Best Places to Work results

(Federal News Network) Uncertainty over the future of work and the transition back to the office permeated the results of this year’s “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” rankings. Employee engagement and satisfaction dropped to a score of 64.5 out of 100 in the 2021 Best Places to Work rankings, which the Partnership for Public Service released on June 13. That’s a decrease of 4.5 points since 2020. The 2021 Best Places to Work rankings, compiled by the Partnership and the Boston Consulting Group, are based on the 2021 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The Office of Personnel Management, which administers FEVS annually, reported that employee engagement dropped from 72% to 71% and employee satisfaction declined from 69% to 64% between 2020 and 2021. Read More

Machine Learning Predicts Gut Microbe Communities

(NextGov) A new computer model predicts the communities formed by human gut microbes, report researchers. The making of the model also suggests a route toward exploring the thousands of microbe species that may be present in human digestive systems. “Whenever we increase the number of species, we get an exponential increase in the number of possible communities,” says Alfred Hero, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan and co-corresponding author of the study in the journal eLife. “That’s why it’s so important that we can extrapolate from the data collected on a few hundred communities to predict the behaviors of the millions of communities we haven’t seen.” Read More

This Navy rescue swimmer saved lives after a boat capsized in San Diego

(Navy Times) Even before the migrant smuggling boat crashed, capsized and splintered off the rocky shores of Point Loma, California, even before he sprang into action to save lives, Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 1st Class Cale Foy suspected something wasn’t right with the vessel. It was May 2, 2021, and Foy was hiking near Cabrillo National Monument with his wife and kids, an idyllic Sunday tradition for the family. But in the day’s low tide, Foy recalled seeing the boat going through a seaweed patch. The 36-year-old and his family started hiking north along the beach line and down near the water, when Foy’s wife noted that the boat appeared to be approaching the craggy, windswept coast. Read More

Video game players show enhanced brain activity, decision-making skill study

(Science Daily) Frequent players of video games show superior sensorimotor decision-making skills and enhanced activity in key regions of the brain as compared to non-players, according to a recent study by Georgia State University researchers. The authors, who used functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) in the study, said the findings suggest that video games could be a useful tool for training in perceptual decision-making. “Video games are played by the overwhelming majority of our youth more than three hours every week, but the beneficial effects on decision-making abilities and the brain are not exactly known,” said lead researcher Mukesh Dhamala, associate professor in Georgia State’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and the university’s Neuroscience Institute. Read More

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