NewsBrief May 1, 2020

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: May 1, 2020

Flying cars will bring new tech, new acquisition models to the Air Force

(fedscoop) The Air Force‘s plan to add 30 “Jetsons-like” flying cars to its fleet by 2023 is rooted in a new acquisition model that leans heavily on private development while the military clears the way for regulatory approval. Called Agility Prime, the acquisition plan leverages a model of public-private partnership where the Air Force acts as an investor in private transportation technology companies that will do the bulk of the development. Meanwhile, the service will provide testing space and trial flight hours needed to clear any regulatory hurdles. It’s a win-win situation both for the military and commercial industry, Will Roper, assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, said Wednesday during a virtual press conference. And it could be a model to solve long-standing issues the Air Force has fielding emerging technologies that have dual-use. Read More

Interior Department inks $95M dollar deal to modernize IT system from 1990s

(Federal Times) The Department of the Interior awarded a $95 million contract to NTT DATA Federal Services to modernize one of its critical information systems, the company announced April 28. The five-year contract will modernize Interior’s Technical Information Management System, or TIMS, which automates business and regulatory functions for the department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management as well as its Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. The latter, BSEE, maintains the system. Under the contract, NTT DATA will “provide operations support, infrastructure and application maintenance, security, cloud transformation and other IT services.” TIMS was established in the 1990s, according to an Interior privacy impact assessment from 2018. The system supports the core mission of the two bureaus and enables the four regional offices and the Virginia headquarters to share and combine data, print maps, and standardize forms and other documents. Read More

Navy opens up $30M in small business tech funding to stabilize supply chain

(fedscoop) The Navy is trying to do its part to support small businesses and startups during the coronavirus. The Office of Naval Research is offering $30 million in contracts for companies that can provide innovative advanced technology to the Department of the Navy. The announcement is a part of a larger effort to send money through the Navy’s supply chain to ensure companies that work with the department stay afloat during the pandemic. The Navy expects to award more than $250 million over the next 90 days to small businesses, the service said in a news release Monday. Read More

RAND report backs up Space Force’s plan for only two heavy launch providers

(Nextgov) The Space and Missile Systems Center says a new report by the thinktank RAND supports its decision to award contracts to only two launch providers under the National Security Space Launch program. The study, which was commissioned by the Air Force, shows that the heavy launch market is unlikely to sustain more than two domestic launch providers over the long term, a conclusion that supports the main thrust of the Defense Department’s acquisitions approach for heavy lift launch services. We asked RAND to independently double check the assumptions we used to build our acquisition strategy,” said Col. Robert Bongiovi, director of SMC’s Launch Systems Enterprise Directorate. Read More

Telling the Data Story Behind Video Gaming

(Knowledge at Wharton) The Sims, FIFA, Battlefield, Need for Speed, Star Wars: Millions of players worldwide enjoy video games like these on a variety of electronic devices. Few stop to think (unless they happen to work in the gaming industry) about the treasure-trove of customer data that is accumulated behind the scenes. Through their game and subscription choices, playing habits and patterns — basically every time they pick up a console or smartphone to play — users transmit a steady stream of information to gaming companies about “what keeps them engaged, what they are excited about, and what things they are not happy with,” according to Wharton marketing professor Raghu Iyengar. Read More

As the coronavirus interrupts global supply chains, people have an alternative – make it at home

(The Conversation) As COVID-19 wreaks havoc on global supply chains, a trend of moving manufacturing closer to customers could go so far as to put miniature manufacturing plants in people’s living rooms. Most products in Americans’ homes are labeled “Made in China,” but even those bearing the words “Made in USA” frequently have parts from China that are now often delayed. The coronavirus pandemic closed so many factories in China that NASA could observe the resultant drop in pollution from space, and some products are becoming harder to find. Read More

Corporate Responsibility in the Digital Era

(MIT Sloan) Sustainability and digitization have been two of the most significant global business trends over the past several years. Sustainability concerns humanity’s relationship with the natural world, while digitization focuses on the virtual world. Lacking obvious common roots, they have developed more or less independently of each other, but it’s time for these two worlds to merge. The need for this merger is simple. The risks to humanity of poor or unethical digital practices are increasing rapidly and can no longer be ignored. Imagine the damage that could be caused by a weapon controlled by malevolent AI, the impact of a total loss of personal privacy, or the social and economic costs of unregulated gig-economy jobs with few or no social protections. Read More