MA

Avenues for Gaining Work with the Intelligence Community

Published: November 10, 2022

Federal Market AnalysisBusiness DevelopmentIntelligence

Companies interested in entering or expanding their footprint in the Intelligence Community (IC) should look to unclassified requirements postings, small business liaisons, conference attendance, and subcontracting opportunities.

Last week, I had the privilege of interviewing Karyn Hayes-Ryan, a principal at Deep Water Point (DWP), as part of Deltek’s Intelligence Community IT and Acquisition Landscape webinar. Karyn’s breadth of experience within the IC and DOD provided webinar attendees with greater insight into the IC and how to go about finding and obtaining contract work within IC agencies. 

When asked if some IC agencies are easier to break into than others, she offered that “some of the ICs have a greater portion of unclassified work and they tend to lean toward more accessibility.” Where the RFP can be found differs by agency, according to Karyn.  “The fact that some are classified may make it more challenging because past performance is a big component to winning work within the IC,” she said.  “But in the last 10 years, IC agencies have come to realize that some of their needs can be met by existing commercial capabilities and they are no longer interested in having a traditional defense contract where they build a capability from scratch and then deliver it in five years because there are existing technologies that are out there today,” Karyn stated.

Sources for IC contract opportunities and other requirements discussed in the webinar are listed below. Most sources contain classified and unclassified components.

  • NeedipeDIA - Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) - NeedipeDIA is an unclassified website that communicates mission needs to innovators and invites collaborative engagement with industry and academia.
  • SAM.gov – SAM.gov is the official U.S. government site for contract opportunities. IC agencies may post unclassified requirements through this site.
  • Acquisition Research Center (ARC) – The Acquisition Research Center (ARC) is a website operated by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Acquisition Center of Excellence (ACE) that is used by all IC agencies to support e-commerce with industry.
  • NSA’s Acquisition Resource Center (ARC) - The NSA ARC is a business registry that provides industry with a one-stop source for acquisition information. The registry also serves as a market research tool for NSA personnel and a means for distributing acquisition documents to industry partners.

Karyn also mentioned that almost all agencies have an industry outreach initiative such as NeedipeDIA. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) has an industry engagement team that allows companies to present a demo of their capabilities to a team of senior leaders. NRO keeps open Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs) to allow the agency to continually look for technologies of interest. “They understand they are no longer the driving force behind some of those,” Karyn said in the webinar.  

Another “easy button,” according to Karyn, is to take a service or capability and register it with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) as a “service of common concern.” This gives a company the means to work with all IC agencies. Companies can request to be registered through ODNI’s CIO office

According to Karyn, it can be a challenge to position your company to work in a classified environment or to see classified opportunities. “IC agencies recognize the challenge and in the past were proud of it because it restricted who could come in. They only wanted people who had obtained these clearances,” said Karyn. But now IC agencies are recognizing they need to get expertise from broader industry, according to Karyn.

Karyn suggests starting as a subcontractor. The prime contractor can sponsor their subcontractor to obtain the facilities clearance needed. Additionally, the small business offices of some IC agencies, such as NGA, will work with companies to obtain the facilities clearance in advance of winning a contract.  In addition to the facilities clearance, companies must have cleared people to perform the work. Some IC contractors work with a retirement organization to identify cleared personnel who are retiring so they can offer them work opportunities.

Another avenue for finding prime industry partners is to express interest in a subcontracting role using the ARC portal. Small businesses can express interest in working on a requirement and industry partners can approach the company if they are trying to fulfill a specific need.

Karyn also confirmed that networking is a good way to meet agency personnel as well as potential prime contractors. There are several classified and unclassified conferences sponsored by the IC.  See the list below:

Most IC agencies also have small business contracting offices or points of contact:

For more information on doing business with the IC, access Deltek’s Intelligence Community IT and Acquisition Landscape webinar or Deltek’s Defense and Intelligence Market, 2022 – 2024 report