Friday, August 11, 2023
Articles & insights in public management & leadership that we found of interest for the week ending August 11, 2023

 Pentagon launches new task force to map future of generative AI. The Pentagon wants to start taking advantage of recent advances in generative artificial intelligence. But to embrace it responsibly, officials think they first need to take a deep dive into the specific use cases and implications of inserting the rapidly evolving technology into defense applications. The people in charge of that effort will be a new task force, which the Defense Department announced Thursday. Dubbed “Task Force Lima,” the group will keep tabs on generative AI implementation across the military services and Defense agencies, and develop and recommend capabilities of its own, officials said.

Three ways the proposed NDAA could change the way contractors do business. When Congress returns from the August recess and tackles the job of reconciling the House and Senate versions of the fiscal 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, companies doing business with the Defense Department will be watching several issues that could impact how they do business. Several sections of the bill address oversight and accountability, including language limiting how soon government employees can go work for companies that do business with DoD.

Office of Strategic Capital hits road bumps on future funding. While some lawmakers and Defense Department officials frequently hold up the Office of Strategic Capital (OSC) as a success story, a disagreement on Capitol Hill appears to have put its funding in question as the office comes under criticism for allegedly allowing conflicts of interest. The Senate Appropriations Committee’s  fiscal 2024 defense appropriations bill described the office’s funding request as “unexecutable.” Appropriators say that’s because the office, which DoD set up to help fund innovative small businesses, hasn’t had its programs formally authorized by Congress.

Zeleke: DoD Balancing Mission With Modernization Steps. The Defense Department’s (DoD) efforts to move from a highly networked legacy environment to a data-driven environment require a careful balance between modernizing network systems and meeting mission requirements, a senior Pentagon technology official explained this week. Lily Zeleke, deputy chief information officer for the DoD, said the agency cannot break mission at the expense of modernization. Therefore, the department wants to ensure as it onboards modern capabilities that it continues to deliver capabilities to the warfighter at the speed of operational relevance.

Amid historic hiring surge, NSA considers hybrid, unclassified work options. The National Security Agency, amid an unprecedented hiring push, is considering options for hybrid work and other flexibilities previously unimaginable at the highly secretive agency. The agency has launched a “Future Ready Workforce” initiative to consider ways the NSA could address the typically complex and lengthy process for getting hired into the intelligence community, as well as considering more flexibilities for agency employees.

Easterly Says CISA Looking to AI Capabilities for Cyber Defense. CISA is looking to utilize AI capabilities to bolster the nation’s cyber defense. CISA Director Jen Easterly said that while AI offers a range of possibilities, her agency is focused on its risk reduction capabilities. “When we saw in November, the release of [Chat]GPT, it’s like the world cracked open and things have been accelerating in terms of the integration of large language model capabilities into all forms of technology and into critical infrastructure,” Easterly said. “So, even as we figure out how to use these capabilities in amazing ways, to keep us safe, we do have to think about how they can be used by adversaries, by terrorists, by criminals, by rogue nations, for unimaginably terrible things.” 

FEMA Seeks to Develop Cloud-Based Data, Analytics Platform. FEMA is looking for insight from the private sector on the agency’s plans to develop a cloud-based data and analytics platform to replace its legacy data system. It is looking for insight from industry on current commercial capabilities for agile IT product design, development, and delivery services for the FEMA Data Exchange (FEMADex), which is planned as a modernized cloud-based data and analytics platform. The push for a new cloud-based platform comes after years of data analytics struggles across the enterprise. The new system will replace FEMA’s legacy data system – the Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) – designed before Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

GSA’s commercial platforms gaining steam, but data, other concerns persist. Three years into the Commercial Platforms Initiative, the vision Congress had for the initiative isn’t necessarily coming to fruition. But new data and analysis shows that doesn’t mean it’s a failure by any means. Agencies told the Government Accountability Office in a new report that it is saving them time, money and giving them better data about their purchase card spending — all of which were major reasons why Congress created the program in the fiscal 2018 Defense Authorization Act.

OMB Establishes the Council on Federal Financial Assistance (COFFA). This is a new Interagency Grants Council - the Council on Federal Financial Assistance — and Agency Chief Grants Officer — called the Senior Financial Assistance Officer. Will help steer trillions in federal grant funding.

Britain’s government wastes time—not moneySince the 1980s the idea that state expenditure is a popular concern—the notion of “taxpayers’ money”—has taken hold. Yet a more precious resource is treated carelessly: the working hours of ministers and civil servants.