NewsBrief October 4, 2019

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: October 4, 2019

How the Army is wrangling its 187 personnel data systems

(fedscoop)The Army Talent Management Task Force has been charged with turning the branch’s archaic personnel system into a data-driven one, and in October it will be implementing a key part of that process: Most active-duty officers will receive their summer 2020 unit assignments through an overhauled method. Currently a limited amount of information is used to match unit commanders with officers, but the new system will allow the Army to consider a much wider range of data. The goal is to grow from using two criteria — time in the service and competency grades — to more than 200 fields of data across 187 personnel systems that were never designed to talk to each other. Read More

LPTA Restrictions Coming to FAR, Finalized in DFARS

(MeriTalk)Criteria for acquisitions to use the lowest price technically acceptable (LPTA) process will be released on the Federal Register Oct. 2 and have been finalized for Department of Defense (DoD) agencies, according to an upcoming Federal Register post and a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released September 26. The report details the progress agencies have made in implementing mandates from the fiscal year 2017 and fiscal year 2019 National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAAs) to revise the usage of LPTA for certain acquisitions, like IT. Read More

The Pentagon Has Officially Taken Over the Security Clearance Process

(Nextgov) The Office of Personnel Management on Tuesday handed off its National Background Investigations Bureau to the Defense Department, leaving the Pentagon in charge of conducting the vast majority of government’s security clearance investigations. At midnight, NBIB officially ceased to exist, and its operations and more than 2,900 employees were subsumed by the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency. The agency, formerly known as the Defense Security Service, is now charged with adjudicating roughly 95% of the background investigations for the federal government. Read More

Unleashing the Power of Blockchain in the Enterprise

(MITSloan) Too many of us take for granted how well the internet worked for business in the early 1990s. By the time the National Science Foundation lifted commercial restrictions on internet use, Tim Berners-Lee had already launched the World Wide Web, and Marc Andreessen had developed the Mosaic web browser.1 Andreessen’s startup Netscape took about a minute to raise $2.7 billion, which was jaw-dropping at the time for an initial public offering.2 Thus began the dot-com boom, 30 years in the making. In contrast, blockchain technology was born commercial, in the sense that it was minting scarce units of digital value from the beginning with cryptocurrency. As of this writing, the market cap of the Bitcoin blockchain hovers around $180 billion. Read More

This is data FEMA needs for disaster recovery

(Federal Times) The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awarded a contract potentially worth over $3.6 million to help it prepare for business recovery after natural disasters. According to a listing on FedBizOpps Sept. 30, FEMA, which heads disaster response for the federal government, awarded the contract to New Jersey-based data analytics company Dun and Bradstreet. The firm-fixed price contract will be for an annual subscription to a national economic data set to help emergency managers prepare for disasters. Read More

Air Force Research Lab Selected for 2019 Defense Innovation Award

(ExecutiveGov) A group within Air Force Research Laboratory has been recognized for a portable technology that allows users to secure doors during gunfights. The team, consisting of members from AFRL’s 711th Human Performance Wing, is the recipient of a 2019 Defense Innovation Award, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base said Monday. “We’ve been hard at work to mature this technology so it can transition out of the labs and into the real world where it can hopefully help people and maybe even save lives,” said John McIntire, team lead and research psychologist. Read More

GAO Overall DATA Act Compliance Good, But Can Improve

(MeriTalk) The Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) compliance with the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) for the first quarter of FY2019 was timely and complete but still has room for improvement, according to a Sept. 27 Office of Inspector General (OIG) report. The DATA Act was enacted to “increase the transparency of Federal spending data by making it more accessible, searchable, and reliable to taxpayers,” OIG said, by requiring agencies to report their financial and award data in accordance with Federal financial data standards. Read More

Lawmakers Propose $1 Billion Purge of Chinese Telecom Equipment

(Nextgov) AA bipartisan group of lawmakers wants to devote $1 billion to purging the country’s telecom infrastructure of equipment manufactured by Huawei and other foreign companies that the government identifies as national security threats. The funds, which would be provided under the newly proposed Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act, would help small and rural providers replace compromised telecom equipment with safer alternatives. Under the bill, the Federal Communications Commission would be responsible for distributing the money and ensuring recipients comply with the law. Read More

USSOCOM Unveils AI, Machine Learning Lab in Florida

(ExecutiveGov) U.S. Special Operations Command has opened a Data Engineering Lab in Tampa, Fla. for the command’s artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation projects, Military Times reported Saturday. The lab is located within the SOFWERX complex in Tampa, which houses activities aimed at addressing current warfighter requirements. Maj. Jennifer Bocanegra, a spokeswoman for USSOCOM, told Military Times that DEL was launched to allow defense entities, private sector partners and the academe to “develop, test and employ new technical approaches to modernize warfighting decision making.” Read More

Stealthy no more? A German radar vendor says it tracked the F-35 jet in 2018 — from a pony farm

(C4ISRNET) OLOGNE, Germany — In the illustrious history of the F-35 fighter jet, add a pony farm outside Berlin as the place where one company claims the plane’s stealth cover was blown. The story that follows is a snapshot in the cat-and-mouse game between combat aircraft — designed to be undetectable by radar — and sensor makers seeking to undo that advantage. In the case of the F-35, the promise of invisibility to radar is so pronounced that it has colored much of the jet’s employment doctrine, lending an air of invincibility to the weapon: The enemy never saw it coming. But technology leaps only last so long, and Russia and China are known to be working on technology aimed at nixing whatever leg up NATO countries have tried to build for themselves. Read More