Pentagon to open new office for advancing artificial intelligence

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  • The Pentagon is planning, along with intelligence agencies, on setting up a new office to oversee the acquisition and development of artificial intelligence. Speaking at the Hudson Institute, Michael Griffin, defense undersecretary for research and engineering, said he and other Defense officials are alarmed at recent advancements made by U.S. adversaries. DoD will submit details of the plan to Congress later this summer. (Hudson Institute)


  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis blamed cuts in pilot hours and a decrease in ready aircraft for the recent rise in aviation accidents. Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee the issue cannot be fixed quickly and cannot be addressed purely through fixing aircraft. Earlier this month, a Thunderbird pilot was killed in an accident in Nevada.


  • The House Armed Services Committee has begun its 2019 defense authorization bill process. Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) declared the process open and will now start hearing legislative proposals. The defense authorization bill is the biggest defense policy bill of the year and has passed more than 50 years in a row.


  • The Defense Department is planning to spend half a billion dollars to demolish buildings that aren’t worth saving anymore. The major investment in demolition is mostly a response to lawmakers’ ongoing refusal to authorize another round of base closures. Even though leveling buildings is expensive, Defense officials said something has to be done to reduce the military’s excess facility inventory. Demolishing some of those structures also cuts down on the military’s massive building maintenance backlog, which currently stands at $116 billion.


  • Lawmakers want the Government Accountability Office to review the Census Bureau’s progress with the 2020 count. Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee asked GAO to review the bureau’s hiring and recruiting practices, and how it’ll train workers on using census-taking technology. The Census Bureau is currently doing field test work in Providence, Rhode Island. Last year, GAO added the 2020 count to its list of high-risk programs. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)


  • The personal information of congressional staff members may be at risk. The Office of Compliance is not doing enough to protect the sensitive information of congressional employees who may have been sexual harassed. That is what Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) claims in a letter to the chairwoman of the Board of Directors for the congressional office that is charged with protecting employees’ rights. Wyden writes the office needs to ensure that basic cyber protections are in place for the data that is managed by an outside contractor. Wyden asks for the OOC to tell him their plans to fix the cyber vulnerabilities. (Sen. Ron Wyden)


  • President Donald Trump intends to nominate Bonnie Glick to serve as Deputy Administrator of USAID. Glick currently serves as the deputy secretary of Maryland’s Department of Aging, but started her career as a Foreign Service Officer in the State Department. Glick also spent 12 years at IBM managing accounts for USAID and the State Department. USAID Administrator Mark Green said he welcomes Glick’s upcoming nomination for the job. (U.S. Agency for International Development)


  • After five years of having acting commissioners, President Donald Trump nominated Andrew Saul to lead the Social Security Administration. Saul served as the chairman of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board and vice chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The president also nominated David Black to be deputy commissioner of SSA. Black is the White House senior adviser at the agency. (White House)


  • The White House sent a slew of nominations to the Senate, where a backlog is building. The names of 29 nominees arrived at the Senate’s in-box. Agencies include Defense, Justice, Transportation, USAID and U. S. Marshals, plus the judiciary. They include James Anderson for assistant secretary of Defense and John Pallasch for assistant secretary of Labor. An Agriculture Department nominee drew praise from Secretary Sonny Perdue. President Donald Trump nominated long-time Colorado forester James Hubbard as Undersecretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment.


  • More details on the White House’s plans to modernize the federal workforce were revealed. All agencies will work with the Office of Personnel management to identify the lowest 20 percent of major components and bureaus on the 2017 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. OPM will identify the most promising practices to address poor employee performance. The agency will also work an automated hiring capability for managers. (Federal News Radio)

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