NewsBrief July 9, 2021

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: July 9, 2021

Army launches personnel records app

(fedscoop) The Army has launched its first app that allows soldiers to access personnel records without the need for a Common Access Card. Called the Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army (IPPS-A), the app is available on Apple’s App Store and is expected to have roughly 1 million users among active-duty personnel and members of the Army National Guard and Reserve by December when the third update of the app. It will serve as a modern hub for the Army’s human resources system, allowing users to send in help requests on personnel matters, updating records and monitoring personnel actions.Read More

Bots starting to help DoD figure out right price for weapons systems

(Federal News Network) Making sure the government gets fair and reasonable prices for goods and services is a core function of the procurement system. But getting those assurances can be slow and costly for both agencies and vendors, so the military services are turning to automation for help. The Army, for instance, is looking to supplement its ranks of pricing specialists with algorithms that have the potential to replace some of the most manpower-intensive aspects of reaching those fairness conclusions. As part of a pilot project now underway, the service is experimenting with bots that can scrape through the bills of materials (BOMs) that make up certain complex vendor proposals and make determinations about whether each of those line items’ proposed prices are realistic. Read More

Argonne’s machine-learning work may help ease U.S. microchip shortage in time

(fedscoop) Argonne National Laboratory researchers have used machine learning to rapidly optimize the application of thin films to semiconductors, a move that may eventually help ease the microchip shortage in the U.S. The researchers spent a couple of months developing machine learning (ML) algorithms and custom software capable of finding the ideal conditions for achieving high, stable film growth in the least time and then refined the scalable process in a two-year project. Researchers currently perform atomic layer deposition (ALD), the formal name for the process, by placing samples in a chemical reactor and then removing them to take measurements. But Argonne‘s new, closed-loop system can conduct experiments, learn from the results and suggest new experiments all on its own. Read More

How a data team became the heroes of one agency’s pandemic response

(Federal Times) As the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the U.S., and as public and private sector workplaces scrambled to keep employees on the job but out of the office, health agencies and experts soared to the front of American media to advise and lead the pandemic response. But for the Farm Credit Administration, which had the highest COVID-19 response scores of any federal agency in the recent Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings, leaning on their newly minted Office of Data Analytics proved essential to keeping employees safe and satisfied. Read More

DARPA makes hardware bug bounty platform open source

(fedscoop) Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has made its hardware vulnerability disclosure platform for white-hat hackers open source. The platform, known as Finding Exploits to Thwart Tampering (FETT), was first launched last year, and the agency hopes that moving to an open-source structure will help ethical hackers to spot flaws with chip design and aid the creation of new processor prototypes. The system virtualizes hardware and firmware, giving hackers a full range of access to chip designs before they are produced and installed into agency systems. Read More

GAO Recommends TSP Assess Risk to Investors of Climate Change

(FEDweek) Investment risks associated with climate change are expected to impact the global economy and cause unprecedented disruption to the financial markets, and investors, including retirement plans, are considering how their portfolios may be exposed to these risks. Passive investment strategies, like those used by TSP, are generally seen as providing the important benefits of broad diversification and low costs, leading to greater risk-adjusted returns when compared to active investment strategies. However, even passive investment strategies are exposed to financial risks from climate change as the impacts are expected to be widespread across all economic sectors. Cli Read More

Pentagon office left military designs for body armor, vehicle gear open to hackers, watchdog finds

(fedscoop) The office in charge of the U.S. military’s 3D printing left designs for defense technology vulnerable to theft by hackers and adversaries, according to a watchdog report made public on Wednesday. If left unfixed, the security gaps could lead to a number of nightmare scenarios, including adversaries stealing military designs, compromising Department of Defense networks or even introducing flaws into design data that could make its way into battlefield products, the report’s authors concluded. Designs included blueprints for protective body armor, tactical vehicle gear, weapons systems brackets and prosthetic body parts, according to the report. Read More

IoT Data: Key to Future Product Innovation

(iot for all) Like a lot of kids, I spent countless hours of my youth dreaming up futuristic drawings. My go-to project was maps of city roadways, where the cars and streets continuously talked to each other. While the promise of a Jetsons-like existence with flying cars folding into briefcases has yet to materialize, the countless hours that kids like me spent dreaming up fantastical worlds seem to have come to fruition in the form of IoT connectivity. Read More

Overcoming barriers to multitier supplier collaboration/span>

(McKinsey & Company) The COVID-19 crisis has disrupted production and logistics activities across the world, leaving many organizations struggling with uncertain delivery times and critical shortages of parts and materials. Recent shortages of semiconductors, lumber, and steel are a reminder of how vulnerable today’s globally integrated supply chains can be—and of technology’s strategic value in revealing potential disruptions along the n-tier supply chain. Read More

A ‘strange signal’ is coming from the Milky Way. What’s causing it?

( On April 28, 2020, two ground-based radio telescopes detected an intense pulse of radio waves. It only lasted a mere millisecond but, for astonished astronomers, it was a major discovery, representing the first time a fast radio burst (FRB) had ever been detected so close to Earth. Located just 30,000 light-years from our planet, the event was firmly within the Milky Way, and it was, to all intents and purposes, almost impossible to miss. Read More