Observations from the 2nd Annual IC Acquisition and Tech Summit

Published: May 04, 2022

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Key members of the IC share their thoughts on acquisition and technology changes in covert settings, as well as ways to do business with intelligence agencies.

Held on May 4, 2022, GovConWire hosted its 2nd Annual IC Acquisition and Technology Innovation Summit, with guest speakers from ODNI, NGA, CIA, NRO and the NSA. The event held a mixture of keynote speakers as well as panelists to discuss the latest innovations across the IC.

Specifically, speakers touched on undergoing acquisition changes within the IC, with efforts to acknowledge and remove barriers to IC procurements and increase transparency to IC needs and challenges. As a whole, the IC is rethinking its approach to acquisition, inviting traditional and nontraditional contractors to keep agencies at the edge of innovation and ahead of U.S. adversaries.

Likewise, the IC is undergoing a technology evolution by rethinking remote work, classification of information and cloud migration. The overarching goal for IC tech is to remove barriers to innovation and invite cutting-edge technologies and solutions to operate quickly and accurately.

Below are key highlights from the acquisition and technology discussions held at the event:

Acquisition Evolution:

  • Empower the IC acquisition workforce to take calculated risks, diversify resources and solutions, and ignite a culture shift
  • Lower barriers to private sector partnering by straying from all projects classified at the highest settings to more realistic classifications. Moreover, break up large contracts into smaller ones with work in unclassified settings to attract nontraditional contractors
  • Exploit acquisition authorities through increased use of OTA’s, CRADAs, grants, etc.
  • Increase transparency in IC challenges to allow industry to help, i.e., ODNI released the Science and Technology Landscape document
  • Increase sharing of IC contractor work and successes to reduce duplication and match vendor solutions with needs across the agencies
  • Automate processes in acquisition programs to speed up repetitive tasks and eliminate staff burdens, i.e., RPA used at ODNI and the CIA for contract close-out process
  • Continue to convert LOE contracts to performance-based ones
  • Leverage technologies and other efficiencies to reduce security clearance wait times

Technology Evolution:

  • Acquire vendor solutions to address cyber needs including, network monitoring tools, detections of all types of intrusions, contain instances of attack, predictability of attacks, remove barriers to share threats, cross domain solution improvements and logging standards
  • Develop platforms to enable collaboration across IC agencies in technical and analytical capabilities
  • Apply AI/ML tools and algorithms to data to quickly sift through the information and deliver to customers while also protecting civil liberties
  • Reduce platforms and increase commercial ecosystems
  • Implement agile software development to entire portfolios (NRO)
  • Provide a common framework to evaluate and develop software to ensure specific practices are followed (NGA Software Way brochure)
  • Decommission legacy applications (an IC-wide challenge), which hinder the adoption of new technology and innovation
  • Automate processes through low code and no code products (NGA)
  • Move from human-initiated workflow to machine-initiated, shift priorities from U.S. government imagery to focusing on all data types and nontraditional sources, and move from an aggregated world to working in the lowest domain possible (NGA tech focus areas)
  • Shift to more commercial cloud platforms for business functions, pursue additional modernization initiatives such as O365 for classified settings, and reengineer tech processes with as-a-service contracts (NSA and govCloud initiative)

All speakers and panelists welcomed interest and feedback from vendors looking to work with the IC. Intelligence agencies continue to seek creative vendor solutions in areas of multi-cloud solutions, AI/ML, quantum, cyber and ubiquitous technology. IC speakers and panelists stressed to the audience the importance of responding and asking questions during RFI and Draft RFP phases to help shape requirements. Moreover, the IC is more open to newer solutions if industry allows them to sample the solutions, in a “try before buy” model. Lastly, industry is encouraged to be explicit and knowledgeable in meetings with senior management by clearly defining product/solution achievement and knowing the government’s needs.