Procurement Dollars for Big Data in the Fiscal 2017 Defense Department Budget Request

Published: March 30, 2016


The DoD plans to invest at least $260M in big data related investments in FY 2017, with Air Force leading the way.

Locating big data related budget items can be a challenge. The terminology used in the documentation isn’t uniform and it’s rare that anyone comes right out and labels planned investments in the Department of Defense’s budget “big data.” But while finding investments may be difficult, it isn’t impossible. There are in fact plenty of investments listed in the Procurement section of the DoD’s budget request for fiscal year 2017 if one searches hard enough using an array of terms. The data this search yields shows that planned big data procurement by the DoD is generally stable, but not necessarily rising at the rate some might expect given the level of chatter about DoD’s big data needs in the media and on the speaking circuit.

The chart below provides a high-level view of the dollars related to big data investments that can be found in the DoD’s FY 2017 Procurement Budget Request. Those relying on this data for market sizing purposes are advised to consider these numbers the baseline for DoD’s planned big data investment because there are undoubtedly big data components in some programs that Deltek could not identify. Please note as well that this data does not include totals from the FY 2017 Research, Development, Test & Evaluation portion of the DoD’s budget request. RDT&E also includes a significant number of big data investments. These will be covered in a subsequent post.

This data shows the total budget dollars by fiscal year that DoD organizations intend to spend on procuring big data-related solutions, including equipment, software, and services. Most of the investments are classified under “Communications and Electronics Equipment,” but a detailed examination of the investment descriptions reveals that software and services are intrinsic parts of the solutions that DoD customers desire.

When broken out by military department and DoD organization, the same data reveals considerably more insight. Right off the bat, we see that the level of planned investment by the Air Force dwarfs that of the other military departments and DoD components combined.

What are the programs on which the Air Force is spending?

The Distributed Common Ground System takes the prize, commanding far larger annual totals than any other Air Force program. The Army’s instance of DCGS may get all the press, but the DCGS-AF is also dedicating considerable procurement dollars to it. In FY 2017 these dollars will be going to the following components of DCGS-AF:

  • Network Infrastructure Transformation ($45.4M) – The Infrastructure Transformation effort modernizes the AF DCGS infrastructure to improve data ingest, transfer, and storage capabilities while migrating the network toward a cloud architecture.
  • Multi-Intelligence (Multi-INT) ($23.4M) – The Multi-INT effort will deliver sustained/modernized Multi-INT Communications and address issues that are identified with legacy systems/components that AF DCGS must interface with. Additionally, upgrades will meet the operational need to integrate new and/or improved sensor capabilities and storage and architecture requirements to support DCGS OCONUS and enhance interoperability by migrating to an Open Architecture construct to improve information sharing and compliance with DoD direction.
  • Signal Intelligence Transformation (SIGINT) ($18.2M) – The SIGINT Transformation effort rapidly integrates new capabilities (i.e., software), leverages mission partner methods and tools, exchanges data, and migrates SIGINT-specific applications/capabilities into the open architecture framework.

Wrapping up, the available procurement budget data shows that the DoD intends to spend at least $260M procurement dollars on big data related investments in FY 2017. Parsing the Air Force’s portion of this total reveals that industry should keep a broader definition of big data in mind when considering where this spending is going. Big data related investment also means investment in the infrastructure that supports use of the technology. Spending on advanced analytics is certainly part of the equation, but spending on hardware and network equipment is equally critical for enabling big data solutions to be used effectively.