DC Dispatch

T2 Touchpoint - January 29, 2018

Published bi-weekly as part of the FLC’s DC Perspective content, T2 Touchpoint gathers updates from inside and around the technology transfer community. News is collected from agency publications, news sites, and DC-central organizations, with original sources, contacts, and links provided in addition to our streamlined synopses. For more information and Touchpoint-related inquiries, please contact dcnews@federallabs.org.

Budget Bulletin 

2019 Federal Budget Request to Be Unveiled in February

As Government Executive reported last week, President Trump will deliver his fiscal budget request by February 12. The last T2 Touchpoint discussed the budget negotiations, which ultimately caused a short government shutdown. After 69 hours, President Trump signed a short-term spending bill to fund the government through February 8. That leaves only a short time for his budget request to be agreed upon and processed. In fact, although President Trump submitted his 2018 budget request last May, it was heavily rejected by agency leaders and Congress—stalling progress. In last year’s reportage, Republican senator Bob Corker said, “I think you know that the budget that’s been presented is not going to be the budget we’re going to deal with…it’s just not.”

Nevertheless, the 2019 budget request should be closely monitored, as it is slated to discuss and honor reorganization proposals submitted by government agencies. Such reorganization promises workforce-cutting measures, a move criticized for its lack of transparency and potential hiring freezes. Check future T2 Touchpoint columns for updates.

Policy Pulse

DoD Basic Research Office Director Steps Down and Reflects on Policymaking Career

After a decade of promoting scientific interests in the defense community, Robin Staffin departed his post as the Department of Defense (DoD) Basic Research Office Director. In his final remarks, Staffin claimed that basic research remains the “pacemaker of technological progress,” and his career reflected this priority. As Director, Staffin recalled his career as existing at the intersection between research, policy, and administration. He quipped that such a position proves “government is harder than physics”—a nod to his doctorate background—and that a focused balance of these three concepts ensures long-term federal progress in each area.

Agency Activities

Nine U.S. Cities Recognized for Data-Driven Excellence and Decision-Making

Earlier this month, Bloomberg Philanthropies and What Works Cities recognized nine cities at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ (USCM) 86th Annual Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. The USCM, according to its official website, is comprised of mayors of each American city with populations of 30,000 or more. A total of 1,408 such locales exist in the U.S. today.

At this meeting, What Works Cities recognized the following cities—most major metropolitan areas—as emblematic for their standard. To quote the official criteria, the standard is divided into four key components to measure cities’ data usage:

  1. Commit: Standard-following cities use data and evidence when making budget and policy decisions.
  2. Measure: Standard-following cities use data and tools to both measure municipal progress and engage their residents.
  3. Take Stock: Standard-following cities review and reflect on data, evidence, and tool use to make improvements.
  4. Act: Standard-following cities use data to inform major decisions.

Los Angeles was the only city to receive a gold rating for its data decision-making, which was awarded for “great” understanding of data, tracking progress, and data-informed decisions. The remaining cities—Boston, Kansas City, Louisville, New Orleans, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.—earned silver ratings, recognized for their “good” data usage.

DHS to Develop Defenses Against Federal Research Lab Cyber Attacks

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate has begun investing in software products to safeguard government labs from hackers and cyber attacks. Labs use the internet to automate all building functions, including those that prevent contained diseases, such as tuberculosis and yellow fever, from escaping into public space.

Red Balloon Security was awarded $1 million to begin testing its Symbiote Embedded Defense technology, which injects software into any operating system and analyzes code to find vulnerabilities and mitigate them accordingly.

Red Balloon’s contract, which has progressed alongside a pilot program for the software solution, is highly adaptable to any laboratory and industrial production environment, as well as all applications of the “internet of things.” If successful, such a defense could expand to other federal or private sectors.

DC Dispatch