FCW Insider

The latest news, analysis and other updates from FCW's reporters and editors.

This year's Fed 100 winners show just how much committed and talented individuals can accomplish in federal IT. Read their profiles to learn more!

Two more telecoms got the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions go-ahead. GSA granted AT&T and Verizon authorities to operate under the agency's mammoth next-generation telecommunications contract. Mark Rockwell has the story.

The 35-day government shutdown saw an extraordinary level of hardship withdrawals from federal retirement plans, but with the spike over, the agency that manages the plans is turning its attention to budgetary and legislative activity – including a group of bills designed to make it easier for feds to withdraw money without penalty during future shutdowns. Chase Gunter has more.

A move of the Public Buildings Service's lease broker data to the cloud snarled contracts and ran afoul of acquisition best practices because of changed security requirements, according to an oversight report. Mark explains.

Quick Hits

*** A group of tech and government advocacy groups are urging states to reject proposed legislation that requires keystroke-level oversight of government contractors to obtain greater billing transparency. A March 25 letter signed by the Information Technology Industry Council, the Association of Government Accountants and other groups is critical of bills popping up in state legislatures nationwide that would require vendors with state contracts over $100,000 or so to install monitoring software.

The bills, the letter states, are "based on model language being pushed by a single company, ostensibly as a mechanism to increase transparency and oversight in state contracting." The company, which is not mentioned in the letter, is TransparentBusiness. It sells software that promises accountability to remote and contract workforces by monitoring keystroke activity.

In February, the National Association of State CIOs issued a statement opposing the same sort of contractor monitoring legislation "because of significant risks to citizen privacy and federal regulatory compliance concerns."

*** The Department of Defense is "light years" away from developing the kind of lethal, autonomous weapons systems contemplated in sci-fi, according to Lt. Gen. John Shanahan, director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center in the Pentagon's CIO shop.

JAIC is charged with coordinating all DOD AI projects with an annual budget of more than $15 million. While JAIC isn't in control of every project, Shanahan will have visibility into how DOD spends nearly $1 billion in AI research and development funding planned in the FY 2020 budget.

This week, Shanahan and other AI experts will be out and about at several Washington, D.C., events talking up the promise of AI. At a March 12 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Shanahan teed up some of the big concerns DOD is facing as it goes all-in on AI.

"Based on my work in Project Maven, I can tell you the algorithm for a field hit are light years away from Skynet and fully autonomous weapons systems," Shanahan told lawmakers. "But we know we have to start thinking about the policy implications of that. If you were to ask ... where the highest temperature is outside the department, it's on the question of lethal autonomous weapons"

There's more process-oriented work to iron out as well, including common tools, shared data libraries, governance and architecture. There's also infrastructure -- AI is one of the big rationales behind the Pentagon's $10 billion warfighter cloud push.

NEXT STORY: Quick Hits

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