DISA’s New Directorate: Emergent Technology

By Mark Wisinger, Senior Analyst

Few organizations do as much restructuring as DISA. Not a year goes by without an organizational change or shuffle! If all goes according to plan, there is going to be a new group at DISA – the Emergent Technology directorate.

DISA System Innovation Scientist Stephen Wallace, who spoke at a recent AFCEA luncheon, is lined up to lead this new group, which will be focused on adopting emerging technologies more rapidly into the DISA enterprise.

Slated for formal establishment in November 2019, the directorate will be composed of three divisions: Innovation Support, Infrastructure and Collaboration & Defense. It’ll be a “smaller, tighter-knit group” according to Wallace. A smaller group will lend itself to closer collaboration and rapid decision making.

The directorate will not be duplicating what DARPA does because they will be looking for solutions much closer to reality — think 3-5 years away from maturity.

Wallace indicated that there will be close collaboration between DISA’s Emergent Technology directorate and NSA’s Commercial Solutions for Classified program. Cybersecurity vendors currently doing business with DISA should familiarize themselves with the NSA CSfC program, especially for tools operating on the DODIN network.

The new Emergent Technology directorate will be using OTAs, but not as a first option, in order to avoid possible acquisition holdups. The directorate will be trying to buy quickly but realizes that OTAs must be used carefully to avoid any headlines – like the TRANSCOM REAN Cloud OTA situation in 2018. DISA recently utilized an OTA for a browser isolation solution – so it’s safe to say we’ll see the DOD becoming more and more comfortable with OTAs, including DISA.

In addition to providing information about the new directorate, Wallace made a point of remarking that in conversations with vendors, oftentimes technology and capabilities are overhyped. He’d prefer a frank discussion about a solution, including both the positives and the negatives. He stressed the importance of having candid conversations with your DOD customers. DISA decision makers are more likely to be receptive if the conversation is an honest, back-and-forth evaluation of a solution.

As FY19 is well underway, keep an eye out for DISA’s newly forming directorate and remember to have realistic conversations with your DISA customers!

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2 Responses to DISA’s New Directorate: Emergent Technology

  1. Todd says:

    Quote – DISA decision makers are more likely to be receptive if the conversation is an honest, back-and-forth evaluation of a solution.

    I think what you are trying to do from a scientific approach is a wonderful thing, but I have to ask the hard question, if an organization like DISA, NSA, DHS, DHA, DoD (3 divisions) have a group of contractors that they respect and work with on a daily basis, who is to say that once we submit the idea, concept to the group, they would not take that idea, concept or application, give it to their onsite incumbent and continue to move forward? Is there a website where ideas are presented, individuals who presented that idea are able to see if different groups are interested in the concepts presented. The problem often times we run across is that we provide ideas and concepts from AI, Next Generation Firewalls with enhanced machine learning intelligence, Cloud (Multi-cloud migration), NFV/SDN (Network Functions Visualization/Software Defined Networking), IPv6 (IPSec AES256 ESP/AH VPN capability), Enterprise Architecture, SOA and NVMe. With all of this said, after presenting the ideas and concepts, nothing from our perspective has moved forward, but later we find out that our ideas are being used by the incumbent on site (they had no clue during the initial conversation).

    So I am not not so sure how we can really develop an objective program when those ideas, products and concepts are being utilized even after numerous meetings with the government organizations. There really needs to be a Non-Disclosure Agreement and Non-compete agreement (with teeth) where the submission can be reviewed online by a panel whose ideas are shared in an isolated and secretive environment. This gives the person or group who initially submitted those ideas should to be able to site at the table. this ensures fair and equitable treatment across the board.

    Thank you for allowing ideas to be sharing, please provide some of your thoughts, let’s keep the conversation going.

    Todd

  2. Todd says:

    Quote – DISA decision makers are more likely to be receptive if the conversation is an honest, back-and-forth evaluation of a solution.

    I think what you are trying to do from a scientific approach is a wonderful thing, but I have to ask the hard question, if an organization like DISA, NSA, DHS, DHA, DoD (3 divisions) have a group of contractors that they respect and work with on a daily basis, who is to say that once we submit the idea, concept to the group, they would not take that idea, concept or application, give it to their onsite incumbent and continue to move forward? Is there a website where ideas are presented, individuals who presented that idea are able to see if different groups are interested in the concepts presented. The problem often times we run across is that we provide ideas and concepts from AI, Next Generation Firewalls with enhanced machine learning intelligence, Cloud (Multi-cloud migration), NFV/SDN (Network Functions Visualization/Software Defined Networking), IPv6 (IPSec AES256 ESP/AH VPN capability), Enterprise Architecture, SOA and NVMe. With all of this said, after presenting the ideas and concepts, nothing from our perspective has moved forward, but later we find out that our ideas are being used by the incumbent on site (they had no clue during the initial conversation).

    So I am not not so sure how we can really develop an objective program when those ideas, products and concepts are being utilized even after numerous meetings with the government organizations. There really needs to be a Non-Disclosure Agreement and Non-compete agreement (with teeth) where the submission can be reviewed online by a panel whose ideas are shared in an isolated and secretive environment. This gives the person or group who initially submitted those ideas should to be able to site at the table. this ensures fair and equitable treatment across the board.

    Thank you for allowing ideas to be sharing, especially this forum.

    Todd

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