DARPA to invest $2B in AI technology

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  • A new campaign from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency means big money for artificial intelligence. DARPA is launching its AI Next effort and wants to spend $2 billion dollars to help develop new AI technologies. DARPA director Steven Walker said the money will go towards multiple projects aimed at transforming computers from specialized tools to partners in problem-solving. (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)
  • Over 150 House Democrats write to congressional leadership in opposition of the president’s planned pay freeze for civilian employees next year. They said Congress should take up the Senate’s proposed 1.9 percent pay raise instead. House and Senate members are currently conferencing over the idea as part of appropriations discussions. Maryland Reps. Steny Hoyer, Jamie Raskin and Elijah Cummings, and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) lead the signing of this letter. (Rep. Jamie Raskin)
  • The Agriculture Department extended the deadline for cities and states to express interest in housing two of its components. USDA is giving localities an extra 30 days until Oct. 15 to propose ideas for hosting the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The extension comes on the heels of a letter from Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) objecting to USDA’s plan to relocate these bureaus. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
  • The Office of Personnel Management said agencies can check to make sure their health and wellness programs are up to par. OPM said it will once again administer the Well Check online assessment for agencies who want to participate. The Well Check tool measure 131 evidence based workplace strategies that impact employee health and wellness. Agencies in the past scored best on addressing vaccine preventable diseases, tobacco free living and occupational health and safety. (Chief of Human Capital Officers Council)
  • Three good government organizations are joining together to develop a new policy agenda for the Senior Executive Service. The Partnership for Public Service, Volcker Alliance and Senior Executives Association is pursuing a set of ideas to improve the SES. They want to strengthen SES onboarding and performance management, find better promotion paths for senior level and senior technical executives, and reduce the number of political appointees. The organizations said they’re taking their ideas to Congress, the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management. (Partnership for Public Service)
  • OMB is taking steps to relieve some of the burden on grant making agencies. Agencies have until April 30 to detail to OMB how they plan to adopt new grant data standards. The Grants Management Federal Integrated Business Framework will finalize the requirements by Sept. 30. OMB said agency plans must also describe how they plan to migrate to shared services along with projected implementation timelines. Additionally, OMB said the System for Award Management or SAM.gov will be the central repository for common governmentwide certifications and representations required of federal grants recipients by Jan. 1. (White House)
  • A program manager with the State Department was sentenced to 13 months in prison for taking kickbacks and stealing money from the agency’s Sport Visitors Program. Kelli Davis admitted to falsifying vendor-related invoices and making fraudulent checks payable to a government contractor. The Justice Department said together Davis and the contractor stole over $17,000. (Department of Justice)
  • The world’s biggest naval base is getting ready for major impacts from Hurricane Florence. Sailors spent much of the weekend getting ships at and around Naval Station Norfolk ready to head out to sea, out of the storm’s path. Navy officials said a major sortie could begin later today, depending on the hurricane’s strength and track. Meanwhile, officials at the Virginia base are urging all of their personnel not to leave vehicles parked there, since much of the installation is subject to severe flooding. (Federal News Radio)
  • Results from the Census Bureau’s “other” population count raise concerns for the 2020 decennial. Georgetown Law’s Center of Poverty and Inequality analyzed results from the agency’s American Community Survey. It finds households skipped a question on citizenship status more than any other question. The bureau plans to include the question on the 2020 census. The citizenship question isn’t new on the ACS form, but it’ll be the first the time in 50 years that it’ll be on the decennial census form. (Georgetown Law)