NewsBrief May 7, 2021

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: May 7, 2021

Former GSA CIO: It’s time for a federal ‘Agile First’ strategy

(fedscoop) Government should prioritize agile methodologies not only in software development but in IT procurement, finance, budgeting and hiring as well, according to a former CIO of the General Services Administration. Tasks should be done in parallel rather than sequentially when possible, and paper-based processes should not only be digitalized but done in real-time, Casey Coleman told FedScoop. The federal Cloud First strategy prioritized cloud migration, while the Cloud Smart strategy directed agencies to take advantage of as-a-service offerings. Ensuring adoption of the agile method is a logical next step and a recommendation ACT-IAC made to the Biden administration during the presidential transition. Read More

DOD seeks clean acquisition data for better policy oversight

(FCW) TThe Defense Department needs better data to improve its oversight of acquisition policies to adequately assess investments and risks over time, according to a watchdog official. Shelby Oakley, the director for contracting and national security acquisition for the Government Accountability Office said the ability to conduct data-driven oversight was the Pentagon’s acquisition office’s biggest challenge. “The biggest thing that I see right now that is a challenge from [the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment] office is their ability to, in fact, conduct data-driven oversight,” Oakley told the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness at an April 28 hearing. Read More

Pentagon leaders emphasize role of emerging technologies in battle

(fedscoop) The top two leaders in the Pentagon in some of their first major public speeches shared visions for a Department of Defense that heavily relies on emerging technologies and creating new strategies to use them. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin emphasized the need to depart from previous ways of waging war and focus on new, technology-driven tools and strategies during his first major speech, given in Honolulu at the change of command ceremony for Indo-Pacific Command last Friday. The same message was echoed later that same day by Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks, who said that the department must “aggressively take steps to be a data-centric organization” and create new ways to use data in the field and in command centers. These remarks designate a much more specific stance than in past administrations around building a military force of the future that is dependent on tech. Read More

GAO worried foreign adversaries are getting their hands on NIH-funded discoveries

(Federal News Network) When federal agencies make financial grants to science and technology researchers, scouring their proposals for possible conflicts of interest is a big part of the process. But some agencies are focused on financial conflicts, and less on guarding against the risks of new scientific discoveries being sent to potential foreign adversaries. That appears to be the case with the National Institutes of Health, according to the Government Accountability Office. Candice Wright is acting director for Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics at GAO. She talked about the problem with Federal News Network’s Jared Serbu on Federal Drive with Tom Temin. Read More

How AI Can Live Up to the Hype

(aitrends) While we see a lot of hype around AI, the industry is capable of living up to its potential. Here’s the problem: Global spending on AI is widely forecast by IDC analysts to double over the next four years, from $50.1 billion in 2020 to more than $110 billion in 2024. However, much of the money does not yield a return: Some 87% of AI projects fail to even reach production, according to a 2019 account in VentureBeat. That’s a lot of wasted investment. How do we bridge the gap so that reality meets the high hopes? Read More

Adopting a smart data mindset in a world of big data

(McKinsey & Company) Industrial companies are embracing artificial intelligence (AI) as part of the fourth digital revolution. AI leverages big data; it promises new insights that derive from applying machine learning to datasets with more variables, longer timescales, and higher granularity than ever. Using months or even years’ worth of information, analytics models can tease out efficient operating regimes based on controllable variables, such as pump speed, or disturbance variables, such as weather. These insights can be embedded into existing control systems, bundled into a separate advisory tool, or used for performance management. Read More

DHS set to launch its ‘most significant hiring initiative’ as part of cyber workforce sprint

(Federal News Network) The Department of Homeland Security is building momentum on its plans to get ahead of an escalating ransomware threat, and getting started on 60-day sprint focused on ramping up its cyber workforce to get ahead of these threats. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Wednesday marked day one of its workforce sprint, the second of six sprints the agency has planned. “We intend to execute the most significant hiring initiative that the Department of Homeland Security has undertaken in its history,” Mayorkas said speaking at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event on ransomware. The sprint, he added, will rethink recruiting with a focus on improving diversity, equity and inclusion, will also look at developing future generations of cyber professionals. Read More

$570M Emergency Leave Fund Now Available for Federal Employee Use

(FEDweek) OPM has told federal agencies that they may now begin allowing their employees to take a special form of paid leave under the “emergency paid leave” program created nearly two months ago, although agencies now in turn must set up their own procedures and requirements for employees to take that leave. New guidance carries out provisions of the pandemic relief law creating a $570 million fund which agencies draw on for employees who are “unable to work” because of certain pandemic-related considerations. Read More

Simple robots, smart algorithms

(ScienceDaily) Anyone with children knows that while controlling one child can be hard, controlling many at once can be nearly impossible. Getting swarms of robots to work collectively can be equally challenging, unless researchers carefully choreograph their interactions — like planes in formation — using increasingly sophisticated components and algorithms. But what can be reliably accomplished when the robots on hand are simple, inconsistent, and lack sophisticated programming for coordinated behavior? Read More

Business Scents: The Rise of Digital Olfaction

(MITSloan) The aroma of freshly baked bread wafting through supermarket aisles. The percolating pot of coffee in a house for sale. The leathery richness of a new car’s interior. We may not always realize it, but our sense of smell is central to many decisions we make as consumers, be it purchasing a new car or deciding to grab a doughnut and coffee on the run. According to the Scent Marketing Institute, leather and cedar aromas will induce you to buy furniture, and floral and citrus notes will make you linger longer in the bookshop. One study showed that adding ambient scents to a Nike showroom increased consumers’ pleasure and stimulation, willingness to spend more money, and likelihood of returning to the store, compared with a nonscented environment. Read More