Army’s Big Data Strategy, Budget, and Programs

Published: April 27, 2016


The U.S. Army spends more than $600M every year on programs with a big data-related component. Most of these are in Research and Development, but many are not, having cyber and intelligence applications as well.

In March of this year the office of the U.S. Army Chief Information Officer/G-6 released a new strategy for coordinating the formatting and use of data across the Army. The new Army Data Strategy is part of an effort by the CIO/G-6 to make data available to authorized users in a fashion that increases interoperability and enhances analysis. In effect, the new strategy lays the ground work for an Army big data enterprise in which data can be securely accessed and analyzed across stovepiped systems and organizations.

The Army’s strategy is the data equivalent of its efforts to implement the Joint Information Environment (i.e., IT hardware investments that deliver interoperability across networks) and it comes not a moment too soon. As the Department of Defense struggles to overcome decades of siloed IT investments, forward-looking thinkers like the Army CIO/G-6 see that the key to future success will lie in enabling the use of big data solutions. Investment in these solutions can be located primarily in the Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) portion of the Army’s annual budget request. A small portion can also be found in the Procurement budget (see chart below).

On one hand, the Army anticipates increasing spending on big data-related procurements in FY 2017 despite the fact that the DoD faces budgetary uncertainty in Congress. On the other hand, projected big data-related spending in the RDT&E portion of the budget is expected to drop to a three year low of $613M in FY 2017 after peaking just shy of $700M in FY 2016.

Big data-related spending in this context refers to programs in the Army’s budget request that include the following types of work – modeling and simulation, advanced analytics, software development related to advanced analytics and algorithms, processing, exploitation and dissemination (PED), high performance computing, and predictive modeling.

Listed below are the top 20 identified Army programs and their budgets. An effort was made to parse the data as precisely as possible, meaning that some programs are identified down to the sub-program level.

Of the programs on this list, the ones showing the highest projected growth in RDT&E dollars from FY 2016 to FY 2017 are:
  • Tactical Electronic Warfare Applied Research/Multi-Function ISR Technologies – FY 2016: $4.1M, FY 2017: $8.5M (+105%). In FY 2017, this program “will assess techniques for identifying patterns and behaviors based on the types of data accessible from pertinent sources accessed via the intelligence enterprise; design and code algorithms and software predictive analysis tools that support analysis of big data on the intel enterprise to determine patterns, anomalies, and behavior based upon data from various sources; evaluate the performance of tools against defined measures of effectiveness. The work is performed at the Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command, Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center (CERDEC), at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD.

  • Defensive Cyberspace Operations - Big Data Pilot – FY 2016: $0, FY 2017: $6.97M. In FY 2017, this program “will provide an advanced analytics capability capable of ingesting structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data from multiple data sources (e.g., intrusion detection systems, intrusion prevention systems, network device log files, trouble tickets, firewalls, proxies, web and applications server log files, etc.) and improve situational awareness of the cyberspace battlefield. It provides a common analytic platform that informs and reduces risk associated with future material solutions and forms a blueprint for future Big Data Analytics.” Work on the pilot will be performed at Project Director, Enterprise Services (ES) Cyber, located in Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS) at Fort Belvoir, Va.
Given the stability promised by the Bi-Partisan Budget Act, it appears that the Army boosted its planned big data-related spending for FY 2016. The picture is not bleak for FY 2017 either as the Army projects spending $612B in RDT&E funding on projects with big data-related work of one kind or another. Vendors with big data and high tech capabilities should keep tabs on developments at Army research centers in particular as these will be where the lion’s share of budgetary resources are directed. Attention should also be directed to work being done at Program Executive Offices like EIS, IEW&S, C3T, and Soldier.