Technocrat | February 15, 2019: Show Me the (AI) Money!

What’s New This Week:

Show Me the (AI) Money!

Before we dive into the news, let’s bid farewell to Opportunity, one of two NASA rovers sent to Mars in 2004. During its 15 years of exploration, the rover sent some impressive images from the Red Planet, and this slideshow captures the magnitude of that journey.

Technology has come a long way, especially artificial intelligence. Military money always played a major role in its growth. But only now does the government believe AI has evolved enough to serve as a pillar of national security.

On Feb. 11, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to create the American Artificial Intelligence Initiative, a long-awaited plan aimed at boosting U.S. technological competitiveness. Without mentioning China directly, the document alludes to Beijing’s pledge to become the world’s AI leader by 2030.

Unlike China’s strategy, the U.S. AI initiative doesn’t include long-term milestones and it doesn’t mention funding. In fact, the federal government hasn’t yet provided an estimate of what agencies will spend on AI annually. BGOV’s Chris Cornillie explains why the national AI plan has received mixed reviews from industry and policy experts in this week’s exclusive story.

Just a day after the president signed the executive order, the Pentagon unveiled its AI strategy, which is essentially a “national security component of the American AI Initiative,” according to Cornillie. The strategy outlines how the Defense Department will develop and use AI to “advance security and prosperity.” Yet it too excludes a dollar amount.

Forbes summarizes the shortcomings well in a recent article: There needs to be a strategy that addresses the Chinese plan, as well as long-term, dedicated funding. Suggestions and recommendations only go so far, but they will not guarantee U.S. dominance in AI.

It’s important to note that China’s swift AI development plan also has limits. A new report from the Center for a New American Security found China is not outpacing the U.S. in AI just yet, though Beijing is working hard to remove existing hurdles.

Are you hungry for more news? Keep reading!

From the Edge to AI 

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Get Smart

“For every agency making progress on AI, there are others that don’t feel empowered. Funding is critical, but so is empowering [chief information officers] and program managers with a mandate to invest in new technologies.”

—Steve Harris, senior vice president of IT contractor Dell EMC Federal Inc.

Read more in this week’s exclusive from Bloomberg Government.

Big Contracts

11 Vendors Awarded Geospatial Data Contracts

The General Services Administration and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency have partnered on purchase agreements for geospatial Earth observation data, products, and services under IT Schedule 70. Eleven vendors are now in this new contracting category. Read more.

Pentagon Outlines Back-Office Cloud Security Needs

The Pentagon has clarified the security requirements vendors will have to meet to compete for its $8 billion back-office cloud contract. Uncertified vendors can still bid on Defense Enterprise Office Solutions, if they’re able to meet level 6 certification later. Read more.

Strategy & Leadership

Navy Introducing Powerful New Position to Oversee IT

The service is establishing a new position for an assistant secretary who manages IT and cyber-related issues across the Navy and Marine Corps. The move would make the Navy the first of the military branches to create such a senior-level position dedicated to technology. Read more.

Trump Nominates Chief of Federal Procurement Policy

Michael Wooten could be the next administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. If confirmed by the Senate, Wooten would become the government’s chief acquisition officer, and IT procurement would be a major part of the job. Wooten has held senior acquisition posts at the Department of Education and the government of the District of Columbia. Read more.

Identify Opportunities Arising From Cloud Adoption

Join BGOV for a free webinar to track the federal government’s spending and progress on adopting cloud technologies. Hear how cloud services open up a host of possibilities for streamlining security procedures and simplifying acquisition processes, and learn what hurdles agencies still face in the journey to the cloud.

Click here to view our speaker lineup, agenda- and to register.

This free 60-minute webinar will cover:

  • Measuring progress on cloud adoption
  • Assessing what’s left for agencies to achieve
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This presentation is sponsored by Cloudera.

Beyond Legacy

Technology Modernization Fund Grants Money to GSA

The Technology Modernization Fund is giving the General Services Administration $20.7 million to support a project called NewPay, a cloud-based pay and personnel management system designed for federal agencies. TMF has $11 million left to fund other federal IT projects. Read more.

Why Agencies Must Meet FOIA Interoperability Standards was created to simplify the Freedom of Information Act and allow anyone to submit requests to federal agencies online. Now the Office of Management and Budget has set a May deadline for agencies to come up with a plan for National FOIA Portal interoperability. Read more.

Eye on Security

DISA Issues Another Certification for Impact Level 5 Data

PTC Cloud Services joined an elite group of cloud offerings that meet the Defense Department’s rigorous security requirements, after the Defense Information Systems Agency granted it a 12-month provisional authorization to host Impact Level 5 (sensitive unclassified) data. Read more.

Pentagon Invests Millions in Cyber Training for Soldiers

The Pentagon is putting tens of millions of dollars toward new cyber training centers, following criticism that American soldiers don’t get enough hands-on experience. Three recent solicitations from the Air Force and Army focus on expanding those efforts in cyberspace. Read more.

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