NewsBrief July 31, 2020

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: July 31, 2020

GAO: More Than Half of COVID-19 Government Contracts Not Competitively Awarded

(Nextgov) The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge of spending among federal agencies, particularly those with health and emergency response missions. As of June 11, agencies spent upward of $17.8 billion, much of which was not awarded through full and open competition. Auditors at the Government Accountability Office did a deep dive into Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation, searching for all contract obligations tagged with the COVID-19 National Interest Action code, as well as any awards containing the terms “coronavirus” and “COVID-19” in the contract description. In order to focus specifically on the pandemic response, “For contract actions over $1 million, we removed obligations that were identified in the contract description as not related to COVID-19,” according to a report published Wednesday. Read More

Pentagon planning for the next 25 years of cybersecurity

(fedscoop) The Department of Defense isn’t just focused on the cybersecurity of today — it’s looking 25 years into the future. The Pentagon’s undersecretary of research and engineering — essentially the department’s CTO — issued a request for information late last week, asking for help building out a roadmap of science and technology activities related to advances in cybersecurity over the next two-and-a-half decades in line with the 2018 National Defense Strategy. The solicitation asks interested parties to help inform the Pentagon’s future cybersecurity guideposts by sharing “their R&D projections, technical capabilities, and demonstrated experiences in cybersecurity and cyberspace operations,” the RFI says. Read More

US Army begins experimenting with new network tools

(C4ISRNET) WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army’s combat capabilities development team kicked off a monthslong experiment last week to test emerging technologies that could be added into the service’s tactical network. The third annual Network Modernization Experiment at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey started July 20 and ends Oct. 2. NetModX provides an opportunity for the Combat Capabilities Development Command’s C5ISR Center — or Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Center — to perform field tests with emerging capabilities that have largely been tested in the lab. Field tests with simulated threat environments, as opposed to lab tests, are important because technologies react in unexpected ways due to realities like different types of trees or terrain. Read More

AFRL, Republic of Singapore Air Force collaborate on coating systems

(U.S. Air Force) WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) — The Air Force Research Laboratory’s coatings and corrosion teams are dedicated to providing the latest state-of-the art coating systems for aerospace products to enable the warfighter to safely and effectively conduct operations while protecting Air Force and Department of Defense assets. Currently, hexavalent chromium is the go-to for corrosion protection material. However, it is a compound that is highly toxic, carcinogenic and is in the process of being phased out. “To ensure that alternative coating systems can perform as well as chromated systems, understanding the durability of non-chrome materials is a must,” said William Hoogsteden, AFRL coatings team manager. Read More

Extend contractor reimbursement period, trade groups urge Congress

(DefenseNews) WASHINGTON ― Trade groups are urging lawmakers to extend the window for reimbursing government contractors for costs related to COVID-19 as Congress works to reach a deal on its next stimulus package. The current window is set to close Sept. 30. Government contractors, “are continuing to face the same ‘ready state’ workforce sustainment challenges that justified” the initial authorization of reimbursements under Section 3610 of the CARES Act, the National Defense Industrial Association and seven other groups said in the latest letter Friday to lobby top congressional leaders. Read More

Does the White House need a new risk management chief?

(FCW) Whether President Donald Trump wins a second term or challenger Joe Biden becomes the next president, key management changes are needed to improve the agility and resilience of federal government services and operations, according to a leading government technology group. In a new policy paper titled “Delivering Outcomes, Building Trust,” the American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC) offers guidance on shoring up technology, infrastructure and the federal workforce to prepare for future crises and improve trust in government. Read More

To lead in the postcrisis tomorrow, put leadership and capabilities in place today

(McKinsey Accelerate) One silver lining of the COVID-19 crisis has been to show businesses how to manage better and achieve greater speed, quality, and cost control. A wartime mindset—defined by decisive crisis management, scenario planning, and a human reflex attuned to the economic and health shocks affecting employees—has been the hallmark of leaders in the crisis so far. Now, as the world feels its way toward recovery and the new opportunities of the next normal, another risk looms. It is that inertia will set in, along with a longing for a return to the operating style of the days before COVID-19. Read More

Navy automates supply chain analysis for microelectronics

(GAO) How many people have COVID-19, and what will the pandemic look like in the future? Forecasting models can help predict trends such as infection or mortality rates. But these models rely on data that is collected by different jurisdictions and reported under different standards. This makes it harder to compare data across places and over time. Knowing about these data limitations can improve analysis. For example, since there are challenges tracking COVID-related deaths, COVID-related mortality might be better measured by comparing the number of deaths from all causes during the pandemic with the expected number of deaths for the same period. Read More

Cost of Perseverance

(Planetary Society) The Perseverance rover is projected to cost $2.7 billion dollars, of which $2.2 billion was for spacecraft development, $243 million for launch services, and approximately $300 million for operations and scientific analysis for its 2-year primary mission. The Ingenuity helicopter cost an additional $80 million to build and $5 million to operate during its 1-month mission. During its development from 2013 to 2020, the Perseverance rover accounted for 0.0075% of all spending by the United States government. Read More

Data, Not Digitalization, Transforms the Post-Pandemic Supply Chain

(MITSloan) That COVID-19 dramatically accelerated digital transformations worldwide has become C-level consensus and a truism. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella publicly observed, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months. From remote teamwork and learning to sales and customer service, to critical cloud infrastructure and security.” Even discounting for hyperbole, pundits and practitioners have been echoing Nadella’s sentiment. Organizations understandably seek to wring digital virtue from pandemic necessity. While many business operations can swiftly transform, other key processes defiantly resist digital acceleration. Read More