NewsBrief: March 1, 2024

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: March 1, 2024

Energy to fund 16 infrastructure cybersecurity projects

(Government Executive) The Department of Energy announced a $45 million investment into 16 projects dedicated to shoring up cybersecurity across the electric grid and other energy infrastructure, the agency announced Monday afternoon. The project selections, which are spread across university research foundations and private sector firms, include investments into threat detection techniques and authentication systems that would make it more difficult for hackers to hijack power sources. The funding is derived from the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, according to the Energy Department’s office focused on cybersecurity, energy security and emergency response. Read More

DoD calls for more contracting flexibilities in 2025 NDAA

(Federal News Network) As Congress prepares to draft the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act, defense officials are asking lawmakers to include provisions that will enable greater flexibility in contracting procedures. For example, the Defense Department can issue undefinitized contract actions, which authorize contractors to begin work within several weeks, well before all contract terms are finalized. The department usually turns to undefinitized contract actions when it’s absolutely necessary since they involve inherent risks, including cost overruns as the contract progresses and uncertainties about final contract terms. Read More

OPM gives agencies an AI hiring playbook

(NextGov/FCW) Agencies looking to staff up on artificial intelligence talent can now find a consolidated guide that summarizes information on existing pay, leave and workforce flexibilities available for AI specialists and other key government technology roles. The Tuesday guidance from the Office of Personnel Management comes months after a sweeping executive order on AI issued last fall that included a number of mandates around hiring AI experts and retraining current feds on the technology, both of which stakeholders say will be critical to the success of the executive order overall. The order specifically established a to-do item for OPM to issue guidance on how agencies could use existing pay flexibilities for AI positions. Read More

Biden EO aims to safeguard sensitive data on fed employees, facilities

(Federal News Network) The Biden administration, as part of a broader data privacy effort, is attempting to curtail foreign adversaries from gathering sensitive data on federal employees and military service members. The new initiative comes under an executive order President Joe Biden was expected to sign Wednesday. The EO is aimed at protecting Americans’ sensitive data from being accessed by so-called “countries of concern” through data brokerages and other transactions. Under the EO, the Justice Department will issue regulations around the bulk sale of sensitive data to unfriendly foreign nations, including China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela. Read More

Space Force, NRO approach key milestone for GMTI as other programs fall behind: Calvelli

(Breaking Defense) A joint effort between the Space Force and National Reconnaissance Office to track targets on the ground from the heavens is soon set to clear a key development milestone, the Space Force’s top weapons buyer said Tuesday — though he warned the program is at risk due to the ongoing budget impasse on Capitol Hill. After years of territorial squabble, the Department of the Air Force and NRO have recently been co-funding a project to develop satellite sensors that provide what’s known as Ground Moving Target Indication (GMTI), or near real-time tracking of targets on the ground like Russian tanks in Ukraine or Chinese warships in the Pacific. Read More

How to Delegate More Effectively: Four Approaches

(MIT Sloan Management Review) Delegation still bedevils many leaders. From the overworked manager trying to alleviate burnout to the vice president trying to take a vacation, many leaders need to delegate more but avoid it. Transferring responsibilities to someone else often creates worry, friction, or unsatisfying results. But delegation is not optional: Individuals and organizations can’t grow unless people learn how to effectively delegate both tasks and decision-making. In our work over the past decade, we’ve seen delegation arise as a leadership challenge in organizations across many industries. Indeed, in health care, manufacturing, and life sciences companies alike, the question of when and how to delegate remains difficult. Read More

Cosmic lighthouses that cleared primordial fog identified with JWST

(Space Daily) Scientists working with data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) have obtained the first full spectra of some of the earliest starlight in the universe. The images provide the clearest picture yet of very low-mass, newborn galaxies, created less than a billion years after the Big Bang, and suggest the tiny galaxies are central to the cosmic origin story. The international team of researchers, including two Penn State astrophysicists, published their results in the journal Nature. The spectra reveal some of the first visible light from a period in the universe known as reionization, which was powered by the arrival of the earliest stars and galaxies. Read More

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