NewsBrief May 29, 2020

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: May 29, 2020

Agency efforts to cut duplication, overlap have saved $429B, GAO says

(Federal News Network) At a time when government has injected trillions of dollars into the economy to address the fallout from the coronavirus crisis, the Government Accountability Office suggests agencies could uncover billions in additional savings — simply by better managing existing programs and finding ways to weed out duplication, fragmentation and overlap. “The federal government has made an unprecedented financial response to the COVID-19 pandemic, GAO said. “At the same time, opportunities exist for achieving billions of dollars in financial savings and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of a wide range of federal programs in other areas.” In its 10th annual report on fragmentation, overlap and duplication, GAO pointed to 168 new actions federal agencies and Congress could take to generate more efficiency in government programs and functions.
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DoD rolls out new process to reduce coronavirus travel restrictions

(Federal News Network) The Pentagon on Tuesday began work to gradually unwind the global travel restrictions that have been in place for its military and civilian personnel for the past two months, moving toward a new methodology for relaxing travel bans that officials said would be “phased” and “conditions-based.” Defense Department officials said they would begin lifting the global stop movement order on a geographic basis, starting in locations where there are clear signs that the spread of coronavirus has slowed. The Pentagon said some places already meet its new criteria to resume “unrestricted travel,” and that the travel ban for those places could be lifted as early as Tuesday evening. Officials have not yet publicly identified those locations. Read More

Defense Department’s AI Center Seeks Own Acquisition Authorities

(Nextgov) In the two years since its conception, the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center has built out its staff from four people to 175 and now commands an annual budget of approximately $240 million. And while the JAIC has been able to meet the Defense Department’s mission demands so far, its chief—Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan—believes that the JAIC will need its own acquisition authorities to meet future technological demands. “What I need honestly is our own acquisition authorities in the JAIC, I don’t have them right now,” Shanahan said Thursday, speaking at a virtual event held by AFCEA. “If I project another year or two forward, we are going to have to come up with different models.” Read More

NASA, SpaceX bringing astronaut launches back to home turf

(MilitaryTimes) CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — For the first time in nearly a decade, U.S. astronauts are about to blast into orbit aboard an American rocket from American soil. And for the first time in the history of human spaceflight, a private company is running the show. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is the conductor and NASA the customer as businesses begin chauffeuring astronauts to the International Space Station. The curtain rises next Wednesday with the scheduled liftoff of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule with two NASA astronauts, a test flight years in the making. Read More

The inside story of two supersonic flights that changed how America operates the F-35

(DefenseNews) WASHINGTON — The F-35 pilot who flew the two infamous supersonic missions that inflicted damage to the jet’s stealth coating and tail wants to set the record straight. When pilots conduct supersonic intercepts or find themselves needing to race away from an enemy during combat, they will be able to take the F-35 to its furthest limits of speed and altitude — most likely without any permanent damage to the aircraft, he told Defense News in an exclusive interview. Last June, Defense News revealed that the Pentagon had instituted time limits on the number of seconds the F-35B short-takeoff-and-landing variant and the F-35C carrier variant could spend at supersonic speeds. Read More

Who Gets What When Supply Chains Are Disrupted?

(MITSloan) The COVID-19 pandemic has upended normal life and many supply chains. Between hoarding (such as toilet paper), unexpected demand surges (such as yeast, for baking), and spot supply shortages (because of factories or warehouses closed due to infection or mandate), some products are in short supply. The most tragic examples, of course, involve shortages of ventilators, personal protective equipment, and pharmaceutical supplies required to care for people infected with the coronavirus. When disaster strikes, suppliers, original equipment manufacturers, and retailers may find that they cannot offer all their products or fulfill all their customer orders. They must decide who gets what. But how? Read More

The touchscreen controls of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon give astronauts a sci-fi way to fly in space

( Veteran NASA astronauts who’ve flown countless vehicles as test pilots will have to cope with something out of the ordinary with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon: touchscreens. The company’s crewed capsule, which is set to launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center as part of the Demo-2 mission tomorrow (May 27), is an autonomous vehicle with a stark, futuristic appearance. But the spacecraft doesn’t just look cool, it also employs a number of modern technologies. Read More