DIA Reverse Industry Day

Published: April 09, 2019


The DIA held its first Reverse Industry Day on April 3, 2019 at the Defense Intelligence Agency Headquarters in Washington D.C. The Keynote speaker was Ms. Jill Singer who is the Vice President of National Security, AT&T Public Sector and Wholesale Solutions. The Panel members included:

  • Ms. Jennifer Walsmith, VP & GM of Northrop Grumman Mission Systems
  • Mr. Tony Cothron, VP of General Dynamics Information Technology
  • Mr. Hector Cevallos, Sr. BD Executive of KEYW Corporation
  • Mr. Christian Schnedler, VP of IDEMIA National Security Solutions
  • Ms. Babs Doherty, President & CEO of Eagle Ray Inc.
  • Ms. Maisha Glover, Sr. Client Advocate at Mckinsey & Company
  • Mr. Sharles Sowell, COO of iWorks Corporation
  • Ms. Marybeth Wootton, CEO of Berico Technologies LLC

The main objective of this event was to identify how the industry determines what technologies and concepts the industry invests in based on the way DIA presents their requirements and how industry determines what opportunities they choose to prime, sub or no bid on. In addition, panel members explain more precisely what determines a bid or no bid outcome by talking about return on investment, risk mitigation, mission relevance, business size standards and the multiple benefits for increasing dialogue.

One critical factor in determining if the industry will bid on a requirement is the return on investment (ROI). This is and will always be a major driving factor and directly affects the amount of bids the DIA receives on any given requirement, therefore it’s important that requirements are stated in a clear and timely manner to give industry ample time to decide whether or not they can provide a valuable solution while optimizing profit within the specified timeframe. From an industry viewpoint, compiling a proposal can be costly and time consuming, so before vendors decide to bid they want to be sure they have a decent chance obtaining the award. In the early stages of the procurement cycle, the industry is focusing on many factors but in particular is looking to see if an incumbent is present, how close the response date is in relation to the release date, how technical a requirement is or isn’t. In the end it comes down to pricing, labor and putting resources where it counts and figuring out if they can actually provide the goods or services. The industry will absolutely not bid on a requirement if they can’t make a profit. These are just a few key areas in which the industry focuses on.

Another topic of discussion was the transition or phase in period in which the new contractor and incumbent go through; and, contributing to the experience, what causes some of the issues brought to the forefront. This period of time can sometimes be difficult for both sides and can spawn a variety of issues. For example, incumbents worry about losing current employees to the new contractor while the new contractor is interested in obtaining all the crucial and important pieces of information from the incumbent but doesn’t always receive.

Due to the current ratio of candidates that hold a TS/SCI clearance to the number of jobs available are inadequate, which is why incumbents make sure they try to retain as many employees as they can. The lack of TS/SCI clearances among people is creating upward pressure and is already having significant effects. This is mainly due to the clearance process taking up to 2 years, whereas before it was approximately 6-10 (or 12) months depending on one’s own background and the urgency of the position. Due to the limited amount of TS/SCI candidates, companies end up having to pay a higher salary then they would if there was an abundance of qualified candidates which has a direct effect on the company’s bottom line. In result, not only does it have financial implications, but moral issues come into play as well.

In addition to the topics above, the industry spoke about the relationship between a thorough debrief and a protest. When the DIA makes an award, it’s crucial to provide a debrief that precisely explains why that particular contractor didn’t win the award. This approach enables them to analyze how they can increase their chances to win an award in the future for other similar DIA opportunities. Even though the number of awardees may vary depending on the requirement, there is much to gain for those vendors that didn’t win which comes from a debrief that’s thought out and provides some good insight as to what they did well but also and maybe more importantly what they could improve upon.

Although the topics above were gone over in more depth, the following topics were also mentioned.

  • Investment prioritization
  • Market analysis
  • Feedback process
  • Approaches to decrease IGCE
  • Strategic importance
  • Risk mitigation
  • Business size standards

In conclusion, this event provided a much needed platform for attendees to gain an understanding of how the industry values more communication while taking into consideration the importance of all the various factors that go into the decision making of whether a bid is place or not. As we learned, not only do vendors focus on the mission of their company, they also center their attention to areas such as return on investment, risk mitigation, mission relevance, business size standards and market analysis. In order to maintain the mission of both the DIA and industry, it’s imperative that both understand how important team work, acquisition process and communication between one another are and how that has a direct correlation of how successful both will be.