NewsBrief: September 16, 2022

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: September 16, 2022

Agencies probe AI’s impact on the American workplace

(FCW) Top officials at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs are warning about the potential for automated technology in the workplace to accelerate discrimination. They hosted a roundtable of experts on September 13 as their agencies consider the proliferation of automated tech including artificial intelligence for job recruiting, interviewing and hiring. “We have important work to do ahead,” said Jenny Yang, director of the OFCCP, which enforces equal employment opportunity laws among federal contractors. The two agencies are focused on promoting equity in tech-based hiring systems as part of a joint venture to expand access to jobs for underrepresented communities, called the Hiring Initiative to Reimagine Equity. Read More

Army acquisition chief ‘not uncomfortable’ with US stockpiles, considers multi-year deals

(Breaking Defense) The Army’s top acquisition official said today he’s “not uncomfortable” with the state of Army munitions stockpiles in the wake of months of arms transfers to Ukraine, but said the Army is doggedly working with industry — including potentially offering multi-year procurement contracts — to boost the production of certain weapons systems to keep Kyiv armed and the US well stocked. Doug Bush, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, told reporters that he spends the bulk of his time working to expand US production of 155mm artillery, High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers, Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) or Javelins that have so critical to Ukraine’s recent successes against Russia. Specifically, Bush said the Army was aiming to “dramatically increase” production of GMLRS and is “doubling or more than doubling” production rates for HIMARS launchers. Read More

Army pilots using AI to streamline selection boards

(Federal News Network) Army command selection boards in the future may depend on computer automated scoring of past evaluations. Lt. Col. Kristin Saling, director of the innovation cell at the Army Human Resources Command (HRC), said her team used a natural language computing program to input thousands of evaluations which can then be scored and used for selection boards. The program is part of an initiative to use artificial intelligence to save time on the selection process. It will be tested out in a pilot program to see how the results measure up against the results of a traditional selection board. “Instead of convening a board of I don’t know how many general officers to go through and review these files over the course of three weeks, we pull them in for about three days, and have them do quality control on that selection process,” Saling said during a webinar hosted by Defense One. Read More

Wormuth: Here are the 6 areas the Army must be prepared for in 2030

(Breaking Defense) As the US Army prepares to fight on the battlefield of 2030, Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth is making public six key areas the Army must be prepared for as it anticipates “transparent” battlefield, where “Army forces are going to be under constant observation, and what can be seen can be targeted.” Speaking at the Maneuver Warfighter Conference at Fort Benning, Ga. on Tuesday, Wormuth described a fighting force that must be more lethal, mobile, and protected in order to successfully fight against near-peer threats like China or Russia, as the service moves forward with its modernization strategy. “The advent of longer range fires, cyberattacks and …proliferation of UAS on the battlefield means that anyone can come under attack whether you’re on the edge of the battlefield, whether you’re in the rear areas, or even if you’re in the homeland,” Wormuth said. Read More

Why the US government will require software vendors to certify the security of their products

(FedScoop) New guidance issued by the White House on Wednesday gives agencies a timeline for beginning to obtain self-attestations from software developers before using their products, rather than relying on third-party assessments. Self-attestation refers to documentation that developers must provide to demonstrate their compliance with the Secure Software Development Framework. This is a key framework that federal IT leaders and the wider tech industry have been aware of since at least March, when the White House required agencies to start adopting it. Read More

FAA Launches Data Visualization Dashboard to Better Inform Public About the National Airspace

(NextGov) The Federal Aviation Administration has launched a new dynamic, interactive online dashboard to make the agency’s collected data more accessible and understandable for the general public, as part of an effort to showcase how the nation’s airspace system operates. Last year, the FAA held an internal data visualization challenge that gave agency employees the opportunity to help redesign the Administrator’s Fact Book, a static PDF document that is generally updated on an annual basis and includes a range of collected data and information about the national airspace system. Participants in the challenge took the FAA’s existing data and submitted visualizations to be included in the agency’s new Fact Book, which went live earlier this month. Read More

New method for comparing neural networks exposes how artificial intelligence works

(ScienceDaily) A team has developed a novel approach for comparing neural networks that looks within the ‘black box’ of artificial intelligence to help researchers understand neural network behavior. Neural networks recognize patterns in datasets; they are used everywhere in society, in applications such as virtual assistants, facial recognition systems and self-driving cars. Read More

GSA’s New Federal Buying Advisory Panel to Convene Next Week; Robin Carnahan Quoted

(ExecutiveGov) The General Services Administration’s newly formed advisory body plans to discuss the role of climate and sustainability in government contracting at an open public meeting scheduled for Sept. 22nd. GSA said Wednesday the Acquisition Policy Federal Advisory Committee will initially look into potential improvements in laws and processes to ensure the two key environmental issues are factored into federal acquisition programs. The agency first announced its intent to assemble the panel in April and its Office of Government-wide Policy reviewed more than 100 nominations for committee membership from small businesses, public sector organizations, academic institutions and trade groups. Read More

NIH Injects $130M to Provide Quality Tools, Data for AI in Medicine

(NextGov) As part of the National Institutes of Health’s launch of the Bridge to Artificial Intelligence program—or Bridge2AI—the agency is investing $130 million over four years in an effort to increase the use of artificial intelligence in biomedical and behavioral research. NIH noted that while AI is present in biomedical research and healthcare, it is not widely used because of the difficulties of applying AI technology to diverse types of data. This is due to the fact that, oftentimes, the collected biomedical or behavioral data sets are insufficient—or lack important information like type of data and collection condition—which prevents the data from being correctly analyzed and interpreted. Subsequently, AI technology may “inadvertently incorporate bias or inequities unless careful attention is paid to the social and ethical contexts in which the data is collected,” NIH stated. The agency noted that for researchers to properly use AI for biomedical research, the researchers need ethical and well-described data sets, standards and best practices. Read More

What would you name a Uranus probe? The internet’s answers are about what you’d think

( Earhart, Tempest or MUSE? Fans of planet Uranus have many ideas to name the next mission there, if an informal Internet poll is any indication. ExploreIGO, a Twitter fan account devoted to icy worlds, asked its community yesterday what to call a spacecraft visiting the big blue world. “We want to know, what would YOU name the #Uranus Orbiter & Probe Mission?” the account asked (opens in new tab), generating tens of thousands of likes, retweets and comments. That name the account references is an early stage proposal for NASA to finally revisit the planet that hasn’t seen an up-close view since Voyager 2 swung by in 1986. Read More

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