Big Data Provisions in the Senate Draft of the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act

Published: June 19, 2019

Big DataDEFENSEInformation TechnologyNational Defense Authorization ActPolicy and Legislation

The Senate’s draft of the FY 2020 NDAA contains several provisions related to big data, offering potential opportunities for contractors.

The Senate Armed Services Committee recently completed the markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2020 (S. 1790), sending the sweeping bill to the Senate floor. Another version of the NDAA is also making its way through the House (H.R. 2500). The NDAA provides a trajectory of comprehensive actions DOD must take, and often times includes measures that call for government-wide implementation. The proposed legislation for FY 2020 is no different; full of technology-driven efforts DOD must implement to strengthen its forces, enhance innovation, and improve combat and operational effectiveness. While there is tech-related language on AI/ML, cyber and cloud throughout the bill, this specific piece will focus on the big data provisions contained in the FY 2020 NDAA and their implications for defense contractors.

Streamlining Operational Processes

Sec. 831 calls for DOD to utilize an analytical framework to assess risk in the acquisition process. The framework is to include the identification and monitoring of supply chain risks, violations from contractor behavior, acquisition process and procedures, and the financial health of defense industry.

Sec. 1638 requires DOD to “conduct an enterprise assessment of accreditation of standards and processes for cybersecurity and information technology products and services.” In addition to the findings, such a report will include proposed modifications, and the use of innovative methods such as automation and ML to foster exchange among DOD officials.

Contractor Implications: Both provisions offer the opportunity to implement data-driven tools and provide analytical support to perform the evaluations listed. Additionally, an assessment of standards and processes for cyber/IT products and services may lead to openings further down the line for analytical and automation methods to help DOD enhance its accreditation process.

Cyber and IT Personnel Evaluation

Sec. 1632 obligates DOD to conduct a thorough review of all cyber and IT personnel with analysis of the roles and functions for each, and comparisons and evaluations of the effectiveness and efficiency of personnel to current cyber and IT missions.

Contractor Implications: One of the purposes of the review is to assess whether a function of any cyber or IT position can be replaced by the acquisition of innovative solutions. Such solutions pave the way for investments in automation, data analytics, and AI/ML to optimize responsibilities of DOD IT personnel.

DOD CDO Authority

Sec 903 outlines the role of DOD’s Chief Data Officer as holding the key responsibility for providing available “common, usable, Defense-wide data sets.” The CDO will also have “access to all DOD data, including data in connection with warfighting missions and back-office data” and report directly to the CIO.

Contractor Implications: With authority and insight into all mission and operational data sets and executive-level connections, the CDO will play a significant role in shaping the business opportunities at DOD to collect, disseminate, govern and manage its data.

Big Data Platform

Sec 1631 advises DOD to transition Big Data Platforms (BDP) to a cloud-computing environment.

Contractor Implications: Contractors may see opportunities should DOD decide to use a commercial platform to host the BDP. The transition of BDP to the cloud will allow for faster, scalable processing of DOD data, permitting room for growth in other analytical capabilities and solutions to help process the data.