NewsBrief May 8, 2020

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: May 8, 2020

Pentagon’s JAIC on the hunt for technology, technical experts to develop and test AI

(fedscoop) he Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center is in search of people to help build AI and the software to test it, according to a pair of new market research documents. In late April the center posted an announcement seeking information on hiring 18-40 “highly technical” contractors who could assist in a range of mission support activities. These contractors would perform systems engineering, cybersecurity and user experience design development, among other tasks. Also last month, the center sought input on acquiring software for the testing and evaluation of a range of AI technologies. The solicitation shows the JAIC’s interest in implementing and developing its own AI systems in addition to being a hub of AI policy for the department. Read More

COVID-19 Is Accelerating AI in Health Care. Are Federal Agencies Ready?

(Nextgov) Artificial intelligence is rapidly expanding its foothold in health care, including at many federal health agencies such as Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services departments and the Defense Health Agency. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is demonstrating the power of AI-enabled capabilities for private and public sector health care organizations responsible for responding to today’s health care challenges. For example, the pandemic has catalyzed numerous AI-enabled development efforts for vaccines. After scientists decoded the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2—the virus causing COVID-19—and publicly posted the results on January 10, the race was on. Read More

Library of Congress plots $150M multi-cloud acquisition for legislative branch

(fedscoop) The Library of Congress has launched a $150 million acquisition to scale up its work with three of the largest commercial cloud providers and expand it to all legislative agencies. Through a single-award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract, the library wants a managed provider to offer the services of Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure across the legislative branch. While the contract is developed primarily for Library of Congress offices to build upon the work it already has done with those providers, it will also be made available to all legislative agencies, such as the Senate, House of Representatives, Government Accountability Office, Congressional Budget Office, U.S. Capitol Police and others, contracting documents say. Read More

Homeland Security’s Biometrics Database Is on Its Way to the Amazon Cloud

(Nextgov) The Homeland Security Department is in the midst of migrating its central biometric database—used to store, manage and disseminate biometric data on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals—to the Amazon Web Services GovCloud, the first step in a major overhaul of the decades-old legacy system. With significant advancements in biometric technologies—like iris and facial scans—and computing technology, DHS decided it was time to upgrade its decades-old Automated Biometric Identification System, known as IDENT, originally developed in 1994. In 2015, the Office of Biometric Identity Management began work on the Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology, or HART, system, which will introduce new capabilities and shift the entire system to the cloud. Read More

Lessons learned from the rocky transition of FedBizOpps

(FCW) The General Services Administration learned some important lessons about modernizing critical back office contracting systems from the rough transition of contracting opportunity data from FedBizOpps to beta.SAM late last year, according to top managers in the agencies’ federal acquisition service. “We learned we needed to help the community come along with us,” in moving legacy contracting and grant management systems to GSA’s system, said Judith Zawatsky, assistant commissioner of GSA’s Office of Systems Management Federal Acquisition Service during a May 5 ACT IAC webinar. Read More

Senators Push for $26 Billion in the Next Stimulus Package to Support U.S. Researchers

(Nextgov) More than 30 senators teamed up this week to jointly request the inclusion of $26 billion in emergency relief funding for the nation’s scientific research workforce in the next coronavirus stimulus package. Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and dozens of others penned a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Monday urging new protections and additional support for the U.S. research and science community in the fourth coronavirus relief package. By Tuesday, more lawmakers expressed their support. Read More

Vacation on hold? House bill would allow feds to carry over unused annual leave

(Federal News Network) Some federal employees likely aren’t taking vacation right now, either because they’re under state stay-at-home orders or there’s simply too much work to do — or some combination of both. A few House Democrats are eyeing new legislation that would ensure federal employees can hold onto the annual leave they’d otherwise have to forfeit at the end of the year. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) introduced the Federal Frontline Worker Leave Protection Act, which would specifically allow employees to carry over unused annual leave due to the coronavirus pandemic. Read More