The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Investment into AI

As the world continues to advance technologically, the United States Department of Transportation recognizes the need to invest in emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence. In 2023, the DOT has continued to increase its investment in AI, focusing on the development of autonomous vehicles and improving transportation efficiency and safety.

Autonomous Vehicles

One of the main areas of focus for the DOT’s investment in AI is the development of autonomous vehicles. In recent years, the technology for self-driving cars has advanced significantly, and the DOT is working to ensure that the technology is safe and reliable before it is widely adopted. In 2021, the DOT released guidelines for the safe testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles, emphasizing the need for transparency and accountability in the development of these technologies.

The DOT has also invested in research and development to advance the technology for autonomous vehicles. For example, the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office has provided funding for research projects focused on developing and testing self-driving car technologies. The agency has also supported the development of connected vehicle technologies, which enable vehicles to communicate with each other and with infrastructure, improving safety and efficiency.

Efficiency and Safety

In addition to autonomous vehicles, the DOT’s investment in AI is also focused on improving transportation efficiency and safety. One area of focus is the use of AI to manage traffic flow and reduce congestion. The DOT is investing in research and development to improve traffic prediction and management systems, using data from connected vehicles and other sources to optimize traffic flow and reduce travel times.

The DOT is also investing in AI technologies to improve transportation safety. For example, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is using AI to develop systems to detect and mitigate potential safety hazards in the aviation industry. The agency is also using AI to develop systems to analyze aviation data and identify safety trends.

Challenges and Opportunities

While the DOT’s investment in AI has the potential to significantly improve transportation efficiency and safety, there are also challenges to overcome. One of the main challenges is ensuring the safety and reliability of AI-powered transportation systems. The DOT is working with industry partners and other stakeholders to develop standards and guidelines for the safe testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles and other AI-powered transportation technologies.

Another challenge is ensuring that the benefits of AI-powered transportation technologies are distributed equitably. The DOT is working to ensure that underserved communities have access to transportation technologies that can improve their mobility and quality of life.

Despite these challenges, the DOT’s investment in AI presents significant opportunities to transform transportation in the United States. AI-powered transportation technologies have the potential to improve efficiency, reduce congestion, and increase safety, making transportation more accessible and affordable for all Americans. By investing in AI, the DOT is taking an important step towards realizing this potential and ensuring that the United States remains a leader in transportation innovation.

What to know about the XBB.1.5 Covid-19 Variant, and how to protect yourself and others from getting it

A new variant of Covid-19, named XBB.1.5, is spreading rapidly throughout the United States. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in December 2022, the proportion of new Covid-19 infections caused by this variant, also known as Omicron offshoot, increased from 4% to 18%. It is projected to continue rising in the future. In certain areas, it is responsible for more than half of all new infections. The World Health Organization has identified XBB.1.5 as the most highly transmissible form of the Omicron variant yet.

            The recent emergence of XBB.1.5 has sparked concern among the public. While more research is needed to fully understand the variant, here is what is currently known:

  • Studies indicate that vaccines may still be effective in preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death caused by XBB.1.5, but more research is needed to confirm the variant’s exact impact on vaccine efficacy.
  • Current treatments for COVID-19 should still be effective against XBB.1.5, but further research is required.
  • Diagnostic tests are being developed to detect XBB.1.5, but it may not be picked up by current tests.
  • The spread of XBB.1.5 may lead to an increase in hospitalizations, potentially putting a strain on healthcare systems.
  • Mask-wearing guidelines for children in schools may be revisited as the variant’s spread is monitored.
  • As new variants of COVID-19 continue to emerge, it is crucial for public health officials and scientists to closely track their spread and characteristics.

            It is confirmed that PCR tests can detect the XBB.1.5 variant, and there is no reason to believe that rapid home antigen tests will not be able to pick it up as well. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has the virus, it is recommended that you get tested. Although the tests may not indicate which specific strain of the virus you have contracted, it will be able to detect the presence of circulating variants.

            The level of concern regarding the XBB.1.5 variant varies among individuals. Some people may not be too concerned about contracting the virus, as they may be young and healthy, have recently recovered from a previous infection, or may find the downsides of continuing precautions to outweigh the risk of infection. It is important to note that XBB.1.5 is not likely to be the last variant of concern and does not appear to cause more severe disease.

On the other hand, there are individuals who may be more worried about the potential of severe illness from COVID-19. People who are older or have underlying health conditions are at an increased risk of severe illness and should speak with their physician about their specific risk. If they are still at a high risk even after getting the bivalent booster, they may want to consider additional precautions such as requesting others to take a rapid test before socializing and wearing a high-quality N95 or equivalent mask while in crowded indoor places to avoid infection while this highly transmissible variant is circulating.

            Genomic surveillance is crucial in identifying and studying new variants of COVID-19 as they emerge. It is a part of the new normal, and it is expected that new variants will occasionally lead to an increase in infections. The important thing is to ensure that people are protected against severe disease and that healthcare systems are not overwhelmed. It is also essential that everyone utilizes the available tools, such as vaccines, to combat the spread of the virus.

            It is important for individuals to stay informed about the latest developments surrounding XBB.1.5 and continue to follow public health guidelines such as vaccination, social distancing, mask-wearing, and monitoring their health.

How you can still receive free Covid-19 tests from the United States government

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact communities around the world, it’s important to have access to reliable testing options. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is now offering free at-home COVID-19 test kits for residential households in the United States. This is a great opportunity for people to get tested from the comfort of their own homes, and it’s important to know how to get your hands on these kits and how to use them properly.

To order a set of four rapid antigen COVID-19 tests, simply visit and fill out a brief form with your full name, email, and shipping address. Please note that there is a limit of one order per residential address. Orders will begin shipping the week of December 19, 2022, and shipping is free.

When you receive your test kit, it’s important to make sure that it has not expired. You can check to ensure that your kit is usable. Once you have confirmed that your kit is still good, follow the instructions provided to administer the test. It’s important to follow the instructions carefully to ensure the accuracy of your results.

It’s also important to remember that these test kits are for at-home use only. If you are experiencing severe symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, it’s best to contact your healthcare provider for further guidance.

In summary, residential households in the U.S. can now order one set of four free at-home COVID-19 test kits from Simply fill out a brief form with your personal information and shipping address to get your hands on these kits. Remember to check that your kit has not expired before using it, and follow the instructions carefully to ensure the accuracy of your results. If you are experiencing severe symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, it’s best to contact your healthcare provider for further guidance.

A Brief Intro into the SBA’s HUBZone Program

The SBA HUBZone program is a federal program that was created to help small businesses located in historically underutilized business zones (HUBZone’s) gain access to government contracts. These zones are typically located in economically distressed areas, such as inner cities or rural areas, and are designated by the Small Business Administration (SBA) as eligible for the program. Sabre88 is headquartered in Newark NJ and has the intent to pursue a HUBZone certification.

Under the program, qualified small businesses located in HUBZone’s are given preference when bidding on government contracts. This can provide a much-needed boost for small businesses that may have otherwise struggled to compete with larger, more established companies. In addition to the preferential bidding treatment, businesses that are certified as HUBZone small businesses are also eligible to receive a 10% price evaluation preference in full and open contract competitions.

To be eligible for the SBA HUBZone program, a business must meet the following criteria:

  • It must be a small business as defined by the SBA
  • It must be located in a HUBZone
  • At least 35% of its employees must reside in a HUBZone
  • At least 51% of the business must be owned and controlled by U.S. citizens, or a community development corporation, an agricultural cooperative, or an Indian tribe

To become certified as a HUBZone small business, a company must submit an application to the SBA, along with supporting documentation. The application process can be completed online, and the SBA provides assistance to businesses that need help with the process.

Once a business is certified as a HUBZone small business, it can begin bidding on government contracts. The SBA provides a list of current contracting opportunities on its website, and businesses can also find opportunities through the Federal Business Opportunities website.

The SBA HUBZone program has been successful in helping small businesses located in economically distressed areas gain access to government contracts since 1997. In addition to providing opportunities for small businesses like Sabre88, the program also helps stimulate economic development in these areas by creating jobs and supporting local businesses. Here at Sabre88 we are planning to apply for a HUBZone certification within the coming months, and if you are interested in learning more feel free to contact us. If you own a small business located in a HUBZone, consider applying for the SBA HUBZone program to take advantage of the opportunities it offers.

How the U.S. Government celebrates Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of 11 federal holidays recognized nationally by the United States government. All non-essential federal agencies are closed on Thanksgiving, and all federal employees are paid, even on holidays. Most federal employees work Monday through Friday, so if the holiday falls on a weekend, the holiday will be observed on the next regular business day. If the holiday falls on a Saturday, it will fall on Friday; if it falls on a Sunday, it will fall on Monday. Many private sector employees also take paid or special leave on Thanksgiving.

 Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks for last year’s harvest. The holiday is rooted in the tradition of harvest festivals held by early American settlers. It is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November each year and has been a national holiday since 1941.

The history of Thanksgiving

 On September 28, 1789, just before leaving for vacation, the first Congress passed a resolution encouraging the President of the United States to hold a day of national appreciation. A few days later, President George Washington issued a proclamation designating Thursday, November 26, 1789, as “public Thanksgiving Day,” marking the first time Thanksgiving was celebrated under the new constitution. Subsequent presidents have issued Thanksgiving proclamations, but the dates and months of celebration vary. It wasn’t until President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed in 1863 that Thanksgiving took place regularly on the last Thursday in November.

 However, in 1939, the last Thursday of November became the last day of the month. Worried that the shortened holiday shopping season could dampen the economic recovery from the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to the second-to-last Thursday in November. As a result of the proclamation, 32 states issued similar proclamations, but 16 states refused to accept the amendment and declared Thanksgiving to be the last Thursday in November. For two years, Thanksgiving was celebrated over two days. The president and some of the country celebrated his Thanksgiving on the second-to-last Thursday in November, and the rest of the country celebrated it the following week.

 To end the confusion, Congress decided to set a fixed date for the holiday.On October 6, 1941, the House of Representatives passed a joint resolution making the last Thursday of November annual Thanksgiving Day. Did. However, the Senate changed its decision to set the holiday on the 4th Thursday, given the year November 5th Thursday. The House approved the amendment, and President Roosevelt signed the bill into law on December 26, 1941, making the fourth Thursday in November a federal holiday for Thanksgiving. The turkey’s national presentation ceremony has been held since 1947, but President George H.W. Bush was the first to actually offer a presidential pardon to Turkey. Last year, President Biden pardoned two turkeys from Jasper, Indiana at his National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation on Friday, November 19, 2021, as part of the White House’s ceremony.

Thanksgiving in the Military

The U.S. Navy celebrated Thanksgiving in some form even before it became an official American holiday. Roasted turkeys, roasted ham, and pumpkin pie are still part of nearly every Thanksgiving at sea or on land to this day.

 During World War I, the Red Cross and other charities began helping Soldiers on Thanksgiving Day, but families in places like France where Soldiers were stationed didn’t take them home that day.

 During World War II, the holiday C-or-K ration were replaced with turkey and cranberries. It was either shipped by the military or gathered from local farmers. Today, the Defense Logistics Agency ships Thanksgiving’s traditional turkey, pumpkin pie, and all the trimmings to tens of thousands of military personnel around the world.

Overall Thanksgiving is a sacred American tradition that for a day brings a nation together around family, food, football and fun.

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President Biden has signed the One Stop Shop for Small Business Compliance Act

On Monday of this week, President Biden signed the bipartisan One Stop Shop for Small Business Compliance Act. The bill was cleared by both the House and Senate.

“Now more than ever, we must pursue commonsense legislation that allows small businesses to thrive in our recovering economy,” said one of the sponsors of this bill Rep. Van Duyne (R) said in an April press release. “Often times, small businesses are unaware of their new responsibilities as federal laws are updated. The One-Stop Shop for Small Business Compliance Act of 2021 will consolidate the resources necessary to navigate the seemingly never-ending web of bureaucratic red tape.” Said Van Duyne

“We should be doing everything in our power to support small businesses in New York and across the country by making the resources available to them clear and easy to access”  said another sponsor Rep. Delgado (D).

Current law requires federal agencies to publish small business compliance guides for certain regulations. However, these guides are housed on different agency websites, making it nearly impossible for small businesses to find and utilize them. The One-Stop Shop for Small Business Compliance Act of 2021 creates a centralized, online “one-stop shop” for small business owners. The online clearinghouse would also list contact information for the appropriate agency staff who could provide regulatory assistance to small businesses.

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The U.S. Government is responding to the rising Inflation, and the demand for acquisition

It’s hard to remember a time when FAS had to deal with so many moving parts than 2022. Beginning with the transition from DUNS numbers to Universal Entity Identification Numbers, to Polaris’ GWAC’s now highly infamous government-wide small business takeover deal, and the unforeseen challenges of inflation affecting nearly every aspect of public and private life. The acquisition sector has experienced rapid mutations since January.

Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner Sonny Hashmi continues to simplify the buying and selling experience through organization-monitored schedules and GWACs. The GSA has announced the planned launch of a new bidders experience based on human-centered design. GSA said in an April 13 press release. “The updated buyer experience will offer buyers access to acquisition tools and market research solutions, as well as documents, templates and pricing resources to help plan acquisitions”. According to the GSA, the goals of these messaging tools are typical, including reducing burdens and simplifying the client agency experience. But digging deeper, the FAS is looking to address long-standing complaints about the acquisition process. The challenge with the acquisition process is trying to communicate with the client. Additionally, ensuring consistent implementation can be another hurdle. The fact that the FAS seems to be struggling to scale back the constant change of contracting officers is a bit of a concern, especially given that agencies haven’t planned enough for inflation and its impact on providers. The Department of Defense underestimated our current inflation and expected inflation to be 4%. A senior Pentagon official told Congress on April 5 that the military is now feeling the effects of higher-than-expected inflation. However, the Department of Defense has not released calculations for the reduction in purchasing power.A final decision from the GSA that you may have missed was made in February and published in March. The GSA has decided not to use agents to remove price as a rating factor when awarding contracts for flight planning programs under Section 876 of the Defense Authorization Act of 2019. After a series of conversations with industry and agency clients, GSA decided to maintain contract level pricing. GSA wrote in a March 23 blog post. “Customer agencies expressed deep concerns about moving the pricing negotiation requirement from the contract level to the order level. Most agencies stated that this move would significantly reduce the value that MAS contracts give them”. In a white paper outlining its decision, the GSA said its integration project team conducted six listening sessions with government and industry clients to develop a list of “pros” and “cons”.

One of the reasons for the need to implement 876 agencies under the Roadmap program that includes the is the potential reduction in contracting agency workload and industry support for change. On the other hand, the list of reasons for not implementing 876 agencies is much more sizable. Included in this 876 agencies is the GSA, which already ensures that contract-level pricing is competitive, agencies can request further job-level discounts based on volume purchases, and contract employees can There is no need to engage in formal negotiated procurement as required by FAR Part 15. at the order level.

The GSA wrote, “Early talks with industry during the Office of Governmentwide Policy (OGP) listening sessions indicated the risk that there may be some level of industry backlash as a result of not implementing Section 876. While the IPT acknowledges that compared to customer agencies more of our industry partners are open to implementing Section 876, this initial discovery phase did not produce any solid evidence that industry would turn away from MAS if Section 876 was not implemented.”  GSA wrote. “Instead the opposite was stated by some industry partners during the IPT’s interview. Some voiced the fear that implementation of Section 876 would put more burden on customer agencies and deter them from using the MAS Program. In addition, while some stated that they would rather be able to develop pricing at the order level, the majority of industry partners interviewed by the IPT acknowledged that there were benefits to having pricing at the contract level”. GSA uses or will use Section 876 agencies for several large multi-award contracts. It’s also considering its use for the upcoming new services multiple award contract.

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What is the GSA

The General Service Administration (GSA) is a government organization that delivers real estate, acquisition and technology services to the U.S. government and the American people. The organization values its self on its service accountability and innovation. Often the GSA will outsource their needs to government contracting businesses who is willing and able to provide a solution. Contracting officers within the GSA put their requests on public portals, and private portals often known as schedules.

From the GSAs about us page:

“GSA provides workplaces by constructing, managing, and preserving government buildings and by leasing and managing commercial real estate. GSA’s acquisition solutions offer private sector professional services, equipment, supplies, and IT to government organizations and the military. GSA also promotes management best practices and efficient government operations through the development of governmentwide policies.”

Contracting With The GSA

The GSA issues long-term, governmentwide contracts that provide federal, state, and local government buyers access to commercial products, services, and solutions at pre-negotiated prices.

If you become a GSA Scheduled contractor you will be able to:

  • Sell products and services directly to government agencies using streamlined ordering procedures
  • Maintain compliance with federal regulations and policies
  • Offer products and services at fair and reasonable prices

If you decide to submit an offer to GSA to be considered for a Multiple Award Schedule contract, you will need to give complete and accurate information that describes your company’s:

  • Financials
  • Experience
  • Past performance
  • The commercial products, services, and/or solutions you are offering

Obtaining a Schedules contract is a challenging process for a company of any size. GSA offers substantial help with this process, including free training held online and at GSA regional offices.

Alternatively to schedules there are Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs).  GWACs provide access to IT requests such as systems design, software engineering, information assurance, and enterprise architecture.

The GSA’s policy on GWACs was issued on September 17th 2012. It states that GSA employees are required to use existing GSA acquisition vehicles before establishing new contracts for similar products or services.

Some Agencies Report 100% Vaccine Mandate Compliance as Others Begin Suspensions

Agencies continue to see vaccination rates rise as disciplinary actions ramp up.

The federal government gave its agencies and contractors time to comply to President Biden’s vaccine mandate, but not all employees have complied. Counseling and education were a first step among many agencies trying to get all their personal vaccinated, but it seems now more and more are taking steps towards more severe punishments. While all agencies have seen an improvement in vaccination and compliance status since the mandate was announced in November, the administration did suggest pushing back the harsher punishments till January.

Agencies are still pushing for compliance, and some are doing better than others. The department of Education, for example, is now 100 percent compliant. All its employees have been vaccinated or have an exemption pending. “The Environmental Protection Agency and Nuclear Regulatory Commission have seen their vaccination rates jump by an additional 3% of their workforces in recent weeks. Below are the compliance and vaccination rates for every major federal agency, which in some cases date back to December” (Katz 22).

The Agricultural Department still has around 1,600 employees that are not vaccinated and not in compliance. They plan to move into the next phase of disciplinary action immediately. As with other agencies, they are hopeful that this will encourage the rest of the employees to comply. “As we move forward with the next steps of the enforcement process, which will involve letters proposing brief suspensions for those few still not in compliance with the vaccination requirement, we anticipate that even more of our employees will get vaccinated in the days and weeks ahead,” a spokesperson said.

Some agencies were ready to move forward with harsher procedures in December but used that time instead to send letters to employees not in compliance warning them of the repercussions as the government asked agencies to wait till January. Some even went as far as reminding workers of friends, family, and colleagues that would be affected by their decision to not comply. According to the agencies, carrying out these suspensions and possible firings have not impacted the services that the American people rely on.

Agencies also must consider all their medical and religious exemption requests that they have received and begin working on them. “Agencies are in the process of reviewing and adjudicating exception requests,” the OMB official said. “That process will continue to pick up pace as agency personnel return from the holidays and last week’s federal office closures due to inclement weather.” Agencies are handling thousands of requests and the majority of employees have not heard back and could still face disciplinary action if their requests are denied and they do not get the vaccine.

By: Beth Gray

How to Avoid Achy Feet while Working at Home

One side effect of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic may come as a surprise: sore feet. Here are some tips on how to get relief.

As the pandemic spirals on, working from home is becoming more prevalent and for many companies, permanent. With the ability to work from home comes some perks, one being comfort! Instead of dress slacks, we slip on sweatpants, and instead of heels or dress shoes, we go right to our warm comfy slippers or completely barefoot! According to Sean Peden, an orthopedic foot and ankle specialist from Yale University Medicine, these habits can lead to foot pain and other issues. “Many people are continuing to work at home part- or full-time, which for some can mean wearing slippers or walking around barefoot,” Peden says. “And because of that, many patients are coming to us with foot problems.” Taking care of your feet is extremely important and can prevent common injuries in your feet, ankles, knees, and your back. Below are a few examples of injuries and how you can protect against them.

Walking barefoot or with soft cushy slippers with no real sole is ill advised. Peden states that when selecting shoes for at home, it should be similar to ones we would wear out of the house. Our shoes need to have harder soles in order to absorb the shock of walking. After weeks or months of not having proper footwear, injuries can begin to occur, like calluses, but also bigger issues like arch collapse. Peden suggests having house shoes that are only worn indoors. “To be practical, I suggest a slip-on clog or slipper without laces. That way, you don’t have to tie and untie your shoes 10 times a day,” Peden says. “A hard sole is important because the harder the sole, the less stress the joints and tendons in your foot experience with each step. The hard sole transfers that stress to the shoe rather than to the foot. A good rule of thumb is if it isn’t something you could walk in for a few blocks comfortably, you shouldn’t wear it around the house all day, either.”

Two of the most common foot problems Peden has seen since the beginning of the pandemic is Achilles Tendonitis and Planter Fasciitis. Tendonitis can really impact an individual that has flat feet. The tendon in the arch of the foot becomes inflamed and can cause damage. Peden says if you experience pain from this, stay off your feet, ice the area, and find a good supportive pair of shoes to wear daily! Secondly, planter fasciitis, which is normally pain in your heel, is caused by inflammation in the foot at the band of tissue on the bottom of your feet. “The pain is usually on the bottom part of the heel,” Peden says. “It’s associated with tight Achilles tendons and calf muscles. If people spend a lot of their day sitting, for example, the muscles can tighten up, and wearing improper footwear can exacerbate the issue.” The fix for this is mostly proper footwear according to Peden, there is also a flexible splint that can be worn at night to stretch out the muscle, so it is not so tight by the morning. “Exercise, physical therapy, and weight loss can all make a difference in addressing foot pain, too. “One pound of additional weight on your body leads to six pounds of additional pressure on your foot. So, if you lose 10 pounds, that is really taking 60 pounds of pressure off your foot,” Peden says. With the pandemic, many people have gained weight, which compounds the problem. But the key is not to do too much too quickly to try to reverse it, Peden says. “If you try to lose weight by suddenly walking too much, that’s hard on your feet, too, and may lead to other foot problems. So, I often recommend cross-training, including low-impact cardio activities like biking or swimming. You can walk, but try to take it easy and, as always, wear good, supportive shoes. “Hiking shoes are often a good option, particularly if you walk on uneven surfaces, including trails. “They are a little safer than sneakers, and protect your foot and ankle better,” he says (Futurity 22)

Overall, Peden advises if you are having foot pain, seek medical attention. There are many comfort levels amongst people right now when it comes to visiting doctors, but if you are having foot pain, it is best to see an orthopedic doctor as it could be a very easy fix.

By: Beth Gray