NewsBrief March 15, 2019

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: March 15, 2019

GSA Chief: Leadership Must Protect Workforce to Drive Innovation

(NextGov) Senior leadership must be willing to “provide cover” to the workforce as agencies pursue innovative projects and purchases, the General Services Administration chief said. “We can’t be asking our journeyman-level or entry-level acquisition professionals or program managers to be taking a risk, and then when things go wrong—and some things will go wrong—leave them out there on their own,”
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DoD laying groundwork for ‘multi-generational’ effort on AI

(Federal News Network) For the Defense Department, last month’s executive order on artificial intelligence was the starting gun, and the department doesn’t mean to lose the race it’s been preparing for for some time. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, director of the DoD’s new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, told lawmakers that he’s already trying to stand up a small office around robotic process automation, a specific type of AI aimed towards improving business practices. Read More

Bill Would Ban Federal Contractors From Asking About Criminal History Early in Job Application Process

(Government Executive) A House committee appears poised to advance legislation that would enshrine in law a policy banning federal agencies from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history until after a conditional offer has been made, and expand that prohibition to federal contractors. Read More

Department of Energy Contracting: Actions Needed to Strengthen Subcontract Oversight

(US GAO) Almost the entire $30 billion Department of Energy budget goes to contracts, most of which have subcontracts. What sort of scrutiny do these subcontracts get? In a 10-year look back, we found more than $3.4 billion in subcontract costs that had not been audited as required—some of which was already past the 6-year statute of limitations to recover unallowable costs. Read More

QinetiQ wins US Army’s small ground robot competition

(Defense News) The U.S. Army has chosen Waltham, Massachusetts-based QinetiQ North America to produce its new small ground robot following a head-to-head competition with the company’s Boston-based neighbor Endeavor Robotics. The serviced awarded a production contract for up to $152 million to QinetiQ on March 11 for its Common Robotic System—Individual or CRS-I program, which is its first small-sized — less than 25 pounds — ground robot program of record, according to an Army statement from Fort Benning, Georgia. Read More

Federal Acquisition Security Council to hold first meeting soon

(Federal News Network) The Federal Acquisition Security Council is “on the cusp” of holding its first meeting with agencies, and will work closely with the Department of Homeland Security’s National Risk Management Center, according to its director. NRMC Director Bob Kolasky, speaking Wednesday at an ACT-IAC panel in Washington, said the council consists of senior agency leadership at the director or undersecretary level from more than half a dozen agencies. Read More

DoD 2020 budget puts heavy emphasis on development of emerging technologies

(Federal News Network) After spending the last few spending cycles focused on rebuilding readiness within the military, the 2020 defense budget is expanding its aperture and asking for increased funds to invest in the development of emerging technologies. The $750 billion budget request for 2020 asked Congress for almost $104 billion for its research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) fund.

Miscategorized Tech Jobs May Hinder Agency Efforts to Fill Critical Vacancies

(NextGov) Agencies are still struggling to identify which critical cybersecurity and IT jobs they need to fill. A Government Accountability Office report released this week found most agencies miscategorized the work roles and functions of many vacant positions. GAO suggested that failing to correctly categorize their tech-related vacancies would add greater challenges as the agencies work to fill gaps in technology roles across the workforce. Read More

DoD wants to sharply cut commissary budget as overall defense budget increases

(Military Times) The commissary budget will take a 21 percent cut in fiscal 2020, if the Defense Department’s budget request is approved by Congress. Defense officials are asking for $995 million in taxpayer funding to operate the 236 commissary stores worldwide, down from $1.27 billion in fiscal 2019, according to DoD budget documents released Tuesday. Read More

How Returning to the Government Affects Annuities

(FedWeek) The effect on an annuity if you return to work for the government after retiring depends on how you retired. In certain circumstances, your annuity will continue; in others it will stop. If you are a CSRS retiree who is reemployed, your annuity stops if you fall into one of four categories. If you are a FERS retiree, only the first two apply. Read More