DoD awards $40M in research grants to four Historically Black Colleges and Universities

In today's Federal Newscast: The Defense Department awards $40 million dollars in research grants to four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). ...

  • The Navy is taking Operation Flank Speed to sea. With more than 800,000 sailors, seamen and civilians using a common set of Microsoft tools now, it is time to try this cloud-based approach on ships at sea. Navy acting Chief Information Officer Jane Rathbun said the service plans on experimenting with cloud services on ships in the coming year as part of how they want to extend enterprise IT to the edge. Rathbun said this Operation Flank Speed effort is part of how the Navy needs to rethink cloud services in the tactical environment.
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  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is filling a big gap in its cybersecurity controls. It usually takes at least a few months, if not longer, for NIST to revise its cybersecurity guidelines. But NIST is now proposing a new patch release for federal cyber guidelines to add a new control on identity and authentication. The update will be finalized in early November. “Really, given the severity of this vulnerability, the time to act is now,” said Victoria Pillitteri, who oversees the cybersecurity publications at NIST. Identity and authentication controls have become a major focus in recent months after Chinese hackers broke into federal agency email accounts using a stolen Microsoft authentication token.
  • The IRS is letting taxpayers from 13 states beta-test its free, online tax-filing platform next filing season. The IRS expects several hundred thousand taxpayers across the country will participate in the pilot program of its direct-file system in 2024. The platform works like most commercially available tax software like TurboTax and will guide taxpayers through a set of questions to fill out their federal tax returns. IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said the pilot is invite-only and that it won’t include all residents of participating states. “We aim to get a lot of people into this process, but not everyone in the state will be eligible to participate,” Werfel said.
  • The Defense Department has awarded $40 million in research grants to four Historically Black Colleges and Universities or minority-serving institutions. Awardees will perform technology research in areas important to the Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control (C-JADC2). These research areas include: advanced computing and software, future-generation wireless technology, integrated sensing and cyber, and renewable energy generation and storage. The awardees will conduct research over the next five years. Arizona State University, Florida International University, Georgia State University and Virginia Tech won the awards.
  • Federal employees and supervisors will get even more hybrid work training opportunities. An Office of Personnel Management training series call, “thriving in a hybrid environment” has upcoming, in-person sessions in Seattle, San Antonio and Boston. Virtual training opportunities will also be available for feds. The free sessions cover both the benefits and challenges of hybrid work, and how to effectively collaborate and communicate in a hybrid setting. The training aligns with the first pillar of the President’s Management Agenda, which is, "strengthening and empowering the federal workforce."
  • The Census Bureau is planning its 2030 population count based on feedback it is getting from the public. The bureau is looking at offering chatbots and employees to give online chat support when people have questions filling out their census forms. It is also looking into giving respondents the option to leave a “time capsule” message for future generations, when data is made public more than 70 years after the count.
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is providing more details on how software companies should securely build their products. CISA and 17 U.S. and international partners released updated “secure by design” guidance this week. The first version was released in April. The latest guide said software manufacturers should only ship secure products to their customers. CISA said software companies could publicize their security advantages and compete on the basis of performance and security.
  • The Defense Department will provide new guidance for assessing mergers and acquisitions in the defense industrial base, while it secures funding to assess them and monitors transactions with identified risks. A Government Accountability Office report found that DoD may be overlooking risks from mergers and acquisitions if it only weighs in when the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are involved. There could be instances when these agencies are not involved that it would benefit DoD to assess because of the potential impact on competition, price and innovation. DoD agreed with these recommendations.

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