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The latest TMF project

Customs and Border Protection is the latest federal agency to receive money from the Technology Modernization Fund. The customs agency is using the $15 million award to modernize a COBOL-based platform it uses to track imported goods as part of its Automated Commercial Environment, a project it's been developing since 2001. The funding comes as House Democrats hope to give the TMF a significant boost of at least $1 billion in the upcoming coronavirus relief package. However, they must convince Republicans in the Senate, who have been wary of the TMF, that the fund is deserving of such a robust payday. Billy Mitchell has the story.

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Air Force picks "Skyborg" pool

The Air Force has selected Boeing, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Kratos Defense and Northrop Grumman as the vendors that will compete for task orders on its $400 million Skyborg Vanguard Program, which will team autonomous drones with human-controlled planes. The program is one of the Air Force’s most “far-reaching” technology programs that aims to leverage artificial intelligence to support the autonomous network of drones and link to other emerging technology programs like the Advanced Battle Management System. The program’s focus is on “attributable” aircraft — meaning that the autonomous drones should be relatively low-cost in a way that makes them expendable in a high-risk operation. Jackson Barnett has the latest on Skyborg.

A federal enterprise risk officer?

The Office of Management and Budget should appoint an enterprise risk officer to address growing cyberthreats to both government and industry, according to a new report from the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council. The officer — like the chief risk officer of a corporation — could spearhead efforts to quantify threats to data, information technology and intellectual property, according to the former federal officials who wrote the report. ACT-IAC also recommends that the enterprise risk officer should address threats nationwide, not just within federal agencies. Other sections of the report — the group's first set of recommendations ahead of the 2020 election — focus on making agencies more outcome-based and making government more agile. More from Dave Nyczepir.

Agencies for COVID-19 data partnership

The departments of Energy, Health and Human Services, and Veterans Affairs formed the COVID-19 Insights Partnership to coordinate and share data on potential COVID-19 vaccines and therapies. The departments will use DOE’s high-performance computing resources for research and data analysis. “Our nation’s understanding of COVID-19 has already benefitted greatly from our world-leading high-performance computing and artificial intelligence resources,” Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette said. “And we look forward to continuing our coordination across Federal departments and agencies in the fight against this virus.” Dave has this too.


Expanding chatbot, virtual agent use to meet citizen needs

Government leaders learned this year that when emergencies increase needs for citizen services, chatbots and virtual agents can help agencies to reduce the volume of questions on its employees. The coronavirus pandemic, in particular, has increase the urgency among leaders to improve their technical capabilities to scale services and better manage its data, says the acting assistant secretary of Illinois’ Department of Innovation and Technology. Hear more from Illinois’ Jennifer Ricker.

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