Senate Intelligence Committee asks DoD for advanced civil nuclear technology on U.S. bases

Chairman Mark Warner and nine other Senators ask miltary leaders to consider deployment of advanced nuclear reactors.

  • Lawmakers are urging the Defense Department to explore nuclear power to bolster the country’s critical infrastructure. Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee sent a letter to the Pentagon on Friday asking the department to consider deployment of advanced nuclear reactors to secure critical infrastructure. Lawmakers want the Army to brief the committee on the service’s plans to deploy nuclear technologies to power military bases. The 2024 defense policy bill requires the Defense Department to consider advanced nuclear technologies for some military installations.
    (Dear Secretary Austin and Secretary Wormuth - Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.))
  • Congress has bumped up the Defense Department's funding for artificial intelligence. DoD is slated to receive almost $2 billion to accelerate the adoption of artificial intelligence this year. Senate and House lawmakers, in approving the final set of 2024 spending bills late last week, are also giving the DoD Chief Digital and AI Officer’s office $10 million for projects focused on autonomy. With that additional funding, $100 million more than DoD requested for 2024, the Pentagon will have to provide a report to House and Senate Defense committees identifying collaborative objectives for 2024 for each service, combatant command and defense agency participating in Alpha-1. Alpha-1 is a platform offering best-of-breed capabilities through an enterprise pipeline, that lets users take more advantage of existing data and reduce technical risk.
    (DoD to get $100M more than it asked for in 2024 for AI - Senate Appropriations Committee)
  • Vendors will likely have to wait a little longer for the final solicitation of the SEWP VI governmentwide acquisition contract. The NASA SEWP program office is holding an information session on April 2 to provide an update about the schedule. NASA had hoped to get the final request for proposals (RFP) out by late March or early April. Part of the reason for the delay was the more than 1,600 questions NASA received about the draft RFP. Joanne Woytek, the SEWP program manager, said earlier this month that the SEWP VI solicitation is in the final stages and going through internal reviews. Woytek also said that there are many steps that still need to happen before the solicitation is released.
  • Congress is calling for a fix to staffing concerns at the Federal Bureau of Prisons. BOP currently faces a 40% staffing shortage nationwide. The agency will see reductions in part of their budget for the rest of the fiscal year, but now as part of the spending agreement Congress reached last week, there are some new requirements aiming to help BOP with staffing and pay issues. Lawmakers are telling the Office of Personnel Management to work with BOP to research ways to improve pay and recruitment techniques for federal correctional officers. The American Federation of Government Employees, the union representing BOP staff, said it is pleased about the forthcoming efforts.
    (Reaction to FY 2024 minibus - American Federation of Government Employees)
  • The Defense Department's Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office (CDAO) is expanding its data integration efforts to enable the Pentagon’s vision of the Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control initiative. CJADC2 is the Pentagon’s effort to connect all sensors across the military services into a single network. The CDAO recently achieved the minimum viable capability for CJADC2 and now plans to spend the next six months developing requirements to allow more companies to join in. The minimum viable capability for CJADC2 came out of the latest iteration of the Global Information Dominance Experiment.
  • In the transition from military to civilian life, service members sometimes lose their housing, pay or health care. The Defense Department typically provides one-on-one assistance to members at higher risk of homelessness or unemployment, but the Government Accountability Office has found that over the last two years, more than 4,300 at-risk service members did not receive the right assistance. Officials at DoD and the Department of Veterans Affairs said they are now outlining plans to address the issue, and aiming to provide better help for those who need it.
  • The FDIC will take six steps over the next year to shore up its cyber defenses against ransomware. Among the steps the organization will take is to assess alternatives for testing the restoration of their Active Directory infrastructures from backups. In August, the CIO's office improved its ability to protect backup data and tested capabilities to restore systems from those files. These and other actions came after an FDIC inspector general report found some shortcomings in the agency's planning and policies. The audit, however, did find the FDIC was generally well prepared to deal with a ransomware attack. The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) recently reported an 18% increase in ransomware complaints in 2023.

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