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Palantir, BAE win Army DCGS contract

The Army selected Palantir Technologies and BAE Systems this week to help modernize its portion of the legacy Distributed Common Ground System — a global network that the military uses to send information and intelligence to commands and outposts of all services around the world. Under the seven-year, $823 million firm-fixed-price contract, the companies will compete for orders to build out a strategic data platform for the system, according to an award notice from the Defense Department. This is the second major award Palantir has won to work on Army's DCGS in recent years. Jackson Barnett has the scoop.

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Census' machine learning journey

The Census Bureau, like many agencies, is looking to machine learning to reduce expenses and workloads. But on top of that, the agency found another, unexpected use for the technology: It can help employees find data that they never knew they needed. The bureau’s dissemination branch exports data in a consolidated system where discovery and preparation is “difficult” for employees, said Zachary Whitman, chief data officer of the bureau. So the agency is piloting ML that flags valuable information employees may not have even been searching for originally. “How do you get people to translate into information they might not know about but would be very valuable to them?” Whitman said. “That’s where a lot of our AI is coming into play, not only with our search services, but also with our user engagement.” Dave Nyczepir has more from Whitman.

Pentagon campaigns for emerging tech R&D

Top Pentagon leaders took to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to defend the Department of Defense budget request for fiscal 2021. Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spent part of their time during a House Armed Services Committee hearing campaigning to increase the military’s “foundation” of emerging technology research and development for things like artificial intelligence. Because of the rapid changes in technology in recent years, “we are in the biggest shift of the character of war,” Milley said. And of course, the department's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract was a topic of discussion, if only briefly. Jackson was at the hearing.

GAO reverts to old website after outage

The Government Accountability Office's website is back online. But rather than the new version of the site launched last week, the watchdog has reverted to the old version after the data center that hosts the redesigned site went down earlier this week. Even though the underlying issue "seems to be fixed ... we’ll stick with the old site for a couple more days to be sure they have their issues worked out,” a GAO spokesperson told FedScoop on Wednesday. Dave is following GAO's outage.

When is GOTS not in the national interest?

Many believe that Government-off-the-Shelf is the best way for agencies to acquire software. In this model,the government builds the software itself or, more likely, contracts with an external firm. The government then owns and maintains the source code and any government agency can apply to use the GOTS software for free. But not only can it often be much more costly for an agency, but the second-order impacts on the American technology sector can be very damaging, according to Shyam Sankar, president of Palantir Technologies. In an Op-Ed, Sankar explains how GOTS isn't really in the best interest of the nation and can give an advantage to the U.S.'s adversaries by pitting the government toe-to-toe with American software companies. Read Sankar's Op-Ed.

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