Navy unveils new strategy for science, technology

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  • The Navy has a new strategy for science and technology. Navy leaders have branded it a “call to service” for scientists and engineers from across the country to help solve military problems. The focus areas include autonomy and artificial intelligence, power and energy, manufacturing, and a host of other issues. The plan does not spell out how the Navy will make progress on those objectives, but Navy Secretary Carlos del Toro said the new work will involve partnerships with the Office of Naval Research, the Naval Postgraduate School, the U.S Naval Academy and the Naval War College.
  • An Air Force legislative proposal to transfer National Guard space units to the Space Force is sparking a backlash among state governors. The National Governors Association has called for the immediate withdrawal of the proposed legislation to eliminate governors’ authority over their National Guard units. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said reducing governors’ authority over their National Guard personnel will affect military readiness, recruitment, retention and the National Guard infrastructure across the country. Air Force officials proposed legislation to bypass governors in seven states and move 14 Guard units with space missions to the Space Force.
  • Two agencies have obtained extra money for IT modernization projects. NASA won its first award from the Technology Modernization Fund. The Labor Department garnered its sixth in almost six years. These are the fourth and fifth awards the board has made since January 1 and continues its focus on cybersecurity and application modernization. The space agency is receiving $5.8 million to accelerate cybersecurity and operational upgrades to its network. Labor is getting $42 million for the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs to replace its outdated Integrated Federal Employee Compensation System. The TMF board now has invested in 43 projects since receiving the $1 billion appropriation in the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021.
  • U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) is considering the best way to build its forces in the future, by conducting a study on future force generation models. The command has typically relied on the military services to train and equip its digital warriors. But leaders have pushed to embrace a more independent U.S. Special Operations Command-type model in recent years. And others have called for the Defense Department to establish an independent cyber service. CYBERCOM is slated to brief Pentagon leadership on the results of the study this summer.
  • Chandra Donelson is the Department of the Air Force’s new acting chief data and artificial intelligence officer. In her new role, Donelson will be responsible for implementing the department’s data management and analytics, as well as AI strategy and policies. Donelson previously served as the space data and artificial intelligence officer for the Space Force, a role she will continue to hold. Her fiscal 2024 goals include integrating data and AI ethics into the department’s mission systems and programs.
  • The Postal Service is looking to raise prices on its monopoly mail products for the sixth time since 2020, when it gets approval from its regulator to set mail prices higher than the rate of inflation. USPS is planning to raise the price of a first-class Forever stamp from 68 to 73 cents. If approved by the regulator, these new USPS prices would go into effect on July 14. A recent study warned that USPS price increases are driving away more customers than the agency anticipated. But USPS said the data behind the study is “deeply flawed.”
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is reviewing more than 4,000 positions that are at risk of a downgrade in their respective pay scales. The six VA positions under review include a mix of white-collar General Schedule (GS) and blue-collar Wage Grade (WG) positions. They include housekeeping aides, file clerks and boiler-plant operators. The VA expects to complete its review of these positions by the end of May. The American Federation of Government Employees said affected employees have received notices in the mail. But, the union said, it has not received notice from the VA about any imminent downgrades.
  • With cyber attacks on the rise, incident response is a big part of managing security risks. Now the National Institute of Standards and Technology is seeking feedback on new recommendations for cyber incident response. The draft guidance is tied to NIST’s recently issued Cybersecurity Framework 2.0. The revised publication layout is a new, more integrated model for organizations responding to a cyber attack or other network security incident. Comments on the draft publication are due to NIST by May 20.

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