NewsBrief July 17, 2020

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: July 17, 2020

Agencies Still Failing to Identify IT Workforce Needs, GAO Says

(Fedweek) The federal government “needs a qualified, well-trained cybersecurity workforce to protect vital IT systems” but agencies “have not made planning for their IT workforce a priority despite 20 years’ worth of laws and guidance that have called for them to do so,” GAO has said. In a posting recapping a series of reports it has issued in recent years, GAO said that having the right personnel is critical since “IT projects frequently fail, go over budget, or face unexpected delays. Additionally, threats to federal IT infrastructure continue to grow in number and sophistication.” Agencies are required to identify and categorize all of their IT and cyber-related positions, “unless agencies improve how they track and code their IT and cyber workforce, they may not have the necessary information to effectively examine their cybersecurity workforce and identify critical workforce needs,” it said, citing one review in which it found that all but two of 24 agencies had assigned a non-IT code to about a fifth of their IT positions. Read More

Army nominates new top-ranking uniformed IT officer

(fedscoop) After a recent shakeup to the structure of the Army’s Office of the Chief Information Officer, the service nominated a general to be the next top uniformed IT officer. Maj. Gen. John Morrison has been nominated as deputy chief of staff of the G-6, a Senate Armed Services Committee spokesperson confirmed to FedScoop. If confirmed by the Senate, Morrison will also receive a rank promotion to lieutenant general. Currently, Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford holds the CIO role for the Army under the current CIO/G-6 model. However, the service recently split the role into a civilian CIO and the uniformed deputy chief of staff to the G-6, which will become official Aug. 31. The shakeup comes as several other top IT and cyber positions are being reshuffled in the Pentagon and the military services. Read More

DOE Seeks Input on Draft Roadmap for Energy Storage Effort

(ExecutiveGov) The Department of Energy has issued a request for information to seek feedback on a draft roadmap of an initiative meant to speed up the development and commercialization of energy storage technologies. The Department of Energy has issued a request for information to seek feedback on a draft roadmap of an initiative meant to speed up the development and commercialization of energy storage technologies. DOE said Tuesday it aims to sustain energy storage exports and usage by 2030 through a secure domestic manufacturing base and supply chain as part of the Energy Storage Grand Challenge. Read More

Navy automates supply chain analysis for microelectronics

(fedscoop) The small computer chips in just about everything from weapon systems to IT platforms often take a long and winding supply chain journey before joining Department of Defense networks. So the Navy recently acquired a new supply chain risk assessment tool from KSM Consulting for quicker analysis of its microelectronics and to serve as an example in monitoring broader supply chains for IT-related products. To determine if a product is safe for the Navy’s networks, analysts pore over documents that show if a company is vulnerable to adversary influence. Read More

National Reconnaissance Office launches “revolutionary” satellites from Virginia

(C4ISRNET) The National Reconnaissance Office successfully launched four classified payloads into orbit July 15 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility — the agency’s first dedicated launch from the Virginia facility. NRO is in charge of acquiring, launching and operating the nation’s intelligence satellites, and while the agency does not typically reveal the details or purpose of its classified satellites, the agency’s director noted that the four payloads will demonstrate revolutionary capabilities. Read More

‘Data is my new perimeter’: CISOs cope with challenges of remote workforce

(Federal News Network) You’ve heard the truism before: Cybersecurity is a moving target. That took on a whole new meaning with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, as the federal workforce moved en masse out of their offices and into their homes. Suddenly, federal cybersecurity professionals were looking at a completely new challenge: How do you secure a primarily remote workforce? “The data is my new perimeter. No longer am I concerned about those that are inside the walls of USDA. Now it becomes what happens that my data is now in the many homes of over 100,000 people who use it at the Department of Agriculture, and how do I as a CISO address that?” said Venice Goodwine, chief information security officer at USDA, during the July 14 Splunk Cloud Virtual Summit. Read More

Data Science, Quarantined

(MITSloan) The economic impact of COVID-19 is unprecedented, dramatically changing markets and prospects for economic growth. Supply chains, transportation, food processing, retail, e-commerce, and many other industries have transformed overnight. Unemployment in the U.S. has reached levels unknown in recent memory, and GDP is expected to fall around the world. As one economic journalist summed up the situation: “Nearly everything in the world is super-weird and disrupted right now.” Read More

Giving robots human-like perception of their physical environments

(ScienceDaily) Wouldn’t we all appreciate a little help around the house, especially if that help came in the form of a smart, adaptable, uncomplaining robot? Sure, there are the one-trick Roombas of the appliance world. But MIT engineers are envisioning robots more like home helpers, able to follow high-level, Alexa-type commands, such as “Go to the kitchen and fetch me a coffee cup.” To carry out such high-level tasks, researchers believe robots will have to be able to perceive their physical environment as humans do. Read More

AI for Self-Driving Cars Doesn’t Account for Crime

(Nextgov) Existing approaches to artificial intelligence for self-driving cars don’t account for the fact that people might try to use the autonomous vehicles to do something bad, researchers report. For example, let’s say that there is an autonomous vehicle with no passengers and it’s about to crash into a car containing five people. It can avoid the collision by swerving out of the road, but it would then hit a pedestrian. Read More

Don’t miss Comet NEOWISE in the evening sky now. It won’t be back for 6,800 years.

( An amazing comet that thrilled early-morning stargazers earlier this month is now visible in the evening sky, and it’s a sight you won’t want to miss. After all, this comet won’t be back for 6,800 years, NASA says. Comet NEOWISE can now be seen just after sunset for observers in the Northern Hemisphere, according to NASA. (Sorry, Southern Hemisphere skywatchers, it’s not visible there.) The comet made its closest approach to the sun July 3 but was only visible before dawn until now. Read More