NewsBrief June 26, 2020

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: June 26, 2020

DHS exploring 5 additional blockchain use cases

(fedscoop) The Department of Homeland Security’s research arm wants to expand its current testing of blockchain technology to prevent forgery and counterfeiting of certificates and licenses. The Science and Technology Directorate issued a five-year other transaction solicitation (OTS) through its Silicon Valley Innovation Program for proposals from blockchain startups in 2018, but agencies have since identified five additional uses. The directorate reissued the OTS on June 9, this time for solutions specific to the needs of the DHS Privacy Office (PRIV), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Read More

NSA launches pilot program to secure defense contractors

(FCW) The National Security Agency is testing a secure domain name system model to better secure companies in the defense industrial base, whose networks house critical weapons technology information. Anne Neuberger, the NSA’s cybersecurity director, announced the agency began a pilot program, Secure DNS, during Defense One’s Tech Summit June 18. The pilot, which has been ongoing for a little more than a month, can reduce malware attacks 92% on a given network, she said. Six weeks into the pilot program she said “we certainly see that secure DNS has an impact … we’ve seen it block [malicious activity] in the set of companies that are using the pilot.” Read More

Contractor Confidence in Government Market Less Certain Amid Pandemic

(Nextgov) Before the coronavirus outbreak, the contracting community expressed “high confidence” in public sector sales for 2020, expressing optimism in steady government buying following 2019’s lengthy government shutdown that set many companies back. Now, amid a pandemic with no end in sight, a largely remote workforce and other contractor challenges, the contracting forecast for 2020 and beyond is much less certain. “We saw a strong performance across the board in 2019, and as we entered 2020, the outlook was rosy,” said Amy Champigny, senior product marketing manager at Deltek. “Now, to some degree, that has happened, but not in the way people expected. The COVID-19 pandemic is going to force a lot of contractors to think carefully about how they come out of this.” Read More

The DOD wants better cybersecurity for its contractors. The first steps haven’t been easy.

(fedscoop) One of the biggest, most complicated projects in the defense industrial base isn’t a new weapons system or cloud computing environment. It’s the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), which is set to upend how the Department of Defense does business with 300,000 contractors who provide everything from advanced aircraft to the shoelaces in soldiers’ boots. The program is the Pentagon’s latest response to years of neglect that left the door open to hackers to steal critical defense information, and the second half of 2020 will be a crucial stretch for the new, 15-person volunteer board at the heart of the CMMC process. Read More

NASA Names Headquarters After ‘Hidden Figure’ Mary W. Jackson

(NASA) NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Wednesday the agency’s headquarters building in Washington, D.C., will be named after Mary W. Jackson, the first African American female engineer at NASA. Jackson started her NASA career in the segregated West Area Computing Unit of the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Jackson, a mathematician and aerospace engineer, went on to lead programs influencing the hiring and promotion of women in NASA’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers. In 2019, she was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Read More

What history can teach us about the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic

(McKinsey Global Institute) The war against COVID-19 is unlike other wars in that the enemy is invisible and inhuman, without armies, generals, or deadly hardware, and all the more insidious for being microscopic. Yet in terms of its economic consequences, the global struggle against the coronavirus does resemble previous wars in some—but not all—respects. As countries tackle reopening, history can provide helpful clues about what to expect next, in terms of the speed of recovery, potential winners and losers, and the changed role of government. The current economic cycle is similar to the mass mobilization of the two world wars. This time, though, the mobilization is happening in reverse, an at-home mobilization of residents being asked to stay home, forgo paychecks, and risk unemployment rather than enlist to fight. Read More

Newly discovered alien planet spotted zipping around highly active star

( veteran NASA planet-hunting missions found a Neptune-size planet that circles its young star every Earth week. But don’t expect habitability here: The star throws epic temper tantrum-like storms. The newly found planet — called AU Microscopii b or AU Mic b for short — was discovered by plumbing data gathered by the agency’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), as well as the recently retired NASA Spitzer Space Telescope. Researchers hope to learn more from AU Mic b about how planets evolve, including how their atmospheres form and interact with their parent stars. Read More