Big Data Related Provisions in the Draft FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act

Published: October 28, 2020

Federal Market AnalysisBig DataDEFENSEInformation TechnologyNational Defense Authorization ActPolicy and Legislation

Requirements for analytics capabilities may be coming.

Key Takeaways

  • Multiple provisions in the FY 2021 NDAA call for the Department of Defense to employ advanced analytics.
  • Business opportunities for analytics providers and/or software developers could emerge from the final legislation.
  • Although they are not called out specifically, cloud-based analytics are likely to be of interest to defense customers.

Deltek’s Federal Big Data Market, 2020-2022 report is out this week and intensive work done by the Federal Market Analysis team to identify big data-related spending reveals a rapidly growing market. Some of that growth is organic, as agencies discover the utility of data dashboards and analytics related to cyber security. Other drivers include the positive impact of data-centric policies from the White House and requirements driven by legislation. Now, with the House and Senate Armed Services Committees set to resume reconciliation efforts for the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act this week (or next), it is worth taking a look at how provisions related to big data technology might affect federal investment in the year to come.

The provisions listed below come from both the House version (H.R. 6395) and the Senate version (S. 4049) of the legislation. The potential implications for contractors are listed after each provision.

Provisions in H.R. 6395

Sec. 220: Digital Management and Analytics Capability – Calls for the implementation of an advanced digital data management and analytics capability to: Integrate all elements of the DOD acquisition process; Record and track all data generated during research, development, testing and evaluation of systems; Maximize the use of data to inform improvement and acquisition process of such systems.

Implication – Could result in an enterprise-wide software and development acquisition to secure the required capability.

Sec. 819: Plan to Improve Department-Wide Management of Investments in Weapon Systems – Directs the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment to develop and acquire databases and analytical and financial tools to improve DOD assessment and management of investments in weapons systems.

Implication – Could result in another opportunity for companies selling analytical tools to the DOD, unless the department chooses to engineer a solution from existing capabilities. It is possible that any requirement which emerges will leverage cloud computing for hosting.

Sec. 1631: Cyber Threat Information Collaboration Environment – Directs the development of an information collaboration environment, complete with associated analytic tools, to enable entities to identify, mitigate and prevent malicious cyber activity.

Implication – May result in a contract competition to meet the requirement, but could also be a function built onto the existing Big Data Platform already being leveraged across the DOD for cyber defense. Unclear at this point if responsibility for the requirement would fall under U.S. Cyber Command.

Provisions in S. 4049

Sec. 903: Modernization of Process Used by the DOD to Identify, Task and Manage Congressional Reporting Requirements – Directs the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs to re-examine the process DOD uses to identify reports to Congress required by annual NDAAs, including an assessment of commercially available analytics tools, technologies and services to help meet business process reengineering.

Implication – Unclear. Probably will not result in the competition of a new requirement as achieving the objective could easily be done using existing capabilities.

Sec. 2881: Military Family Readiness Considerations in Basing Decisions – Requires the Secretary of a military department to consider decisions related to military family readiness to be determined using an analytical framework based on quantitative DOD data and other resources outside the DOD.

Implication – Dashboard builders take note. Several organizations across the Department of Defense are already using analytics dashboards to inform promotion and billeting decisions.

Concluding Thoughts

Summing up, if passed and signed into law with these provisions intact, the FY 2021 NDAA will direct the DOD to build or buy analytical capabilities for several purposes. Vendors providing such capabilities should keep an eye out for requirements appearing in late FY 2021 or even FY 2022 as it often takes the department a year or more to translate requirements in the NDAA into actionable contract competitions.