President Donald Trump last week issued an Executive Order on veterans’ health care that included an announcement that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would adopt the same electronic records systems as the Department of Defense (DoD), signing off on what was already a done deal. Emphasis on “deal,” because although the departments are on board with a project that could cost $10 billion over 10 years, history raises doubts as to whether a unified health records system can actually be achieved. […]

The Pentagon, well aware that private sector innovation has outstripped its own in key technologies, is expanding its courtship of industry with a new pilot program that encourages academic industry collaboration on what its calls “use-inspired basic research.” The program will concentrate on development projects aimed at creating applications that can be implemented in the field.






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The Department of Defense’s (DoD) push toward greater adoption of commercial cloud computing could raise some questions for the military services and component agencies, including what type of cloud environment would work best while meeting unique DoD needs such as security and high-volume transactions. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) took a stab at answering those questions last week while offering a plan for enterprise cloud adoption.






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Weapons systems these days are run by computers, and as with other computer system, software upgrades are a constant fact of life. The trick is to install and test those upgrades effectively with a minimum of downtime. Case in point: the Navy’s venerable, but always improving, Aegis Combat System (ACS). The Navy has awarded Lockheed Martin a $102.5 million contract modification to continue its long-running work on the development and integration of ACS capabilities, while exploring a way to test those upgrades without incurring downtime or extra costs.






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After years on the backburner, electronic warfare (EW) is moving up the ranks as an integral part of the Pentagon’s military focus. The Army last month received approval to move ground-based EW efforts into the Terrestrial Layer Intelligence System, joining cyber, signals, and other intelligence as part of the Multi-Function Electronic Warfare (MFEW) structure. The service wants to include airborne EW later this year.






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North Korea’s persistent efforts on nuclear weapons development and some loose talk about red buttons have raised new fears internationally about the possibilities of nuclear conflict. At home, government agencies also are addressing the questions about what to do in the case of a nuclear detonation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for example, will hold one of its Public Health Grand Round teaching sessions Jan. 16 on how medical professionals should respond–and although the event has been planned for months, it’s timing suddenly seems to be on the mark.






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As the new year begins, Alfred Rivera, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA) Development and Business Center, will retire from the Federal government. Rivera, who stepped down today, has been in the Federal service for 35 years, and spent all but 10 of those years at DISA. Rivera will begin consulting following his retirement from the public sector. 






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Turning that job over to robotic systems is the idea behind the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) latest competition, the Subterranean Challenge. DARPA is inviting teams from around the world to develop new ways of mapping, navigating, and searching underground environments, and is offering $2.75 million in prize money to the eventual winners.






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In a data scientist’s dreams, the Internet of Things (IoT) would cover the Earth. And in fact, that dream might not be that far off–ground-based sensors, unmanned vehicles, mobile devices of all kinds, and satellites already combine to offer a pretty clear picture of what’s going on around us, and the resolution is only going to improve.






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