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Quick Hits for Oct. 23

*** The White House reconfigured the posts of director and deputy director of the U.S. Digital Service as two-year career positions. Matt Cutts, currently acting director, got an official appointment as USDS director. Eddie Hartwig also got the "acting" cut from his deputy director title.

"They bring a wealth of experience and leadership to their positions and will play a critical role in the government’s mission of modernizing citizen services," Margaret Weichert, the deputy director of management at the Office of Management and Budget, said in a statement. “Matt, Eddie and the USDS team provide technology leadership to transform services to American citizens, like improving access to veterans benefits online at vets.gov.” The USDS chief reports up the chain to the DDM, on the management side of OMB.

USDS was established in 2014 in the wake of the troubled launch of the HealthCare.gov website. Former Google engineer Mikey Dickerson was its first director.

*** The intelligence community's research arm wants to hear from developers about computer systems that aren't just super-fast, but that possess some form of self-awareness. The Future Computing Systems Program solicitation from the Intelligence Advance Research Projects Activity is looking for the development of computers that reason, learn from experience, as well as analyze and remember massive and diverse data sets -- and that can work with both humans and other intelligent computers. "It is necessary to lay the foundations now for a revolutionary change in the design and usage of future computers that will shift software and hardware architectures from their current focus on compute-intensive only to include data-intensive and, most importantly, intelligence -- through knowledge and learning -- as integral to the system,” the request for information reads. Responses need to examine whether such a futuristic system could be developed in the next 20 years.

*** The IT modernization centers of excellence program could be expanding beyond the initial agencies, General Services Administration Director Emily Murphy said in an interview on the Oct. 21 Government Matters program. GSA has "list of parties that are interested" in becoming CoE hosts.

So far, just the Departments of Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development have been tapped to house centers of excellence, but Murphy said the early lessons learned already have GSA asking "how would we set up contract vehicles for a third, or a fourth or a fifth customer?" Agriculture, which recently entered phase two of its award, is now "getting real-time data on things like procurement, HR, real property, all their CXO functions," Murphy told Government Matters at the Executive Leadership Conference, adding that GSA is "going to get started" replicating the dashboards created by the USDA CoE team. Offering these services to all agencies "is not the next step, but it's a step out there," she said. 

*** A bill to give the administration two-year authority to come up with a government reorganization plan and streamline the plan's path through Congress wouldn't have a significant effect on the federal budget, according to an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. The Reforming Government Act of 2018 "would have no significant effect on the federal budget because it would not expand the duties of executive agencies," CBO said.  There's no way for CBO to predict what sort of government reorganizations would be permitted under the expanded authority provided by the bill or what they would cost.

*** Key House and Senate committee chairs have received the National Cyber Strategy and its classified annex, as required under the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act, according to a White House press blast. The public-facing strategy was released in September, generating a largely positive response.

Posted on Oct 23, 2018 at 12:37 AM


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