What the Defense Innovation Unit Wants Industry to Know About CSOs – Part 2

Stephanie MeloniEarlier this week we published Part 1 of “What the DIU Wants Industry to Know About CSOs”. Here, in Part 2, DIU answers additional questions, which delve deeper into the use of CSOs and possible future expansion as the need for adopting advanced commercial technologies continues.

A special thank you to DIU for the outreach and answering my questions!

SM: Do you think the spread of the CSO process is indicative that the Department is embracing a shift toward executing more OT agreements?
DIU: The past few NDAAs encouraged OT and CSO utilization. As more DoD partners experienced or witnessed the successes of DIU prototype projects as well as the capabilities of the non-traditional ecosystem, we have seen a groundswell in interest to adapt CSO procedures for different mission set use-cases. Additionally, OSD leadership issued a highly regarded OT guide and OT policy in November 2018 to help acquisition professionals leverage and demystify authority.

SM: Why use CSOs as opposed to traditional acquisition methods?
DIU: The ultimate goal of a CSO is to enable project teams the flexibility and freedom to execute purpose-driven contracts with best-of-breed companies, including traditional (subject to cost-sharing requirements) and non-traditional vendors. CSOs provide an opportunity for acquisition professionals to develop a deliberate based process focused on project outcomes instead of a default-driven process focused on compliance. CSOs and OTs in general are great acquisition instruments for experimenting and prototyping new technology, methodologies, etc. whereas the traditional acquisition authorities are geared towards procuring supplies and services. Truly, the authorities are highly complementary and should be used in conjunction with one another. Moreover, the potential to scale successful prototypes into production contracts provides a clear value proposition that incentivizes companies to seek out opportunities to work with the Department. Read more of this post

What the Defense Innovation Unit Wants Industry to Know About CSOs – Part 1

Stephanie MeloniBy Stephanie Meloni, Market Intelligence Manager

We received a tremendous response to my blog posting on Commercial Solutions Openings (CSOs) as another innovative option the government is using to quickly acquire commercial solutions—in fact, it was my most viewed blog ever!

In that blog, I mentioned that CSOs, a type of OTA designation, were initially piloted by the Defense Innovation Unit beginning in 2016. Defense Innovation Unit read my blog and offered to answer more in-depth questions I had about CSOs and OTAs and how they can help solve military challenges. I share their answers with you here, in a two-part series.

A special thank you to DIU for the outreach and answering my questions!

SM: What is DIU’s mission?
DIU: The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) delivers advanced commercial technology into the hands of men and women in uniform to enhance national security. DIU partners with the services, combatant commands, and component organizations to seek out and rapidly prototype commercial solutions to military challenges while lowering barriers to entry for non-traditional companies interested in working with the Department of Defense (DoD).  There has never been a more important time for the military to leverage commercial technology. Former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter established DIU in August 2015 to capitalize on U.S. businesses’ growing investment in research and development (R&D) and venture capital funding of high-tech startups. Rapid technology developments led by the private sector and the global diffusion of emerging dual-use capabilities are changing the character of warfare. It is DIU’s mission to ensure the Department has a pathway for integrating these commercial capabilities at the speed of relevance to maintain a decisive military advantage over our adversaries. Read more of this post

DOD Space Organizations: What IT Companies Need to Know

Stephanie Meloni

By Stephanie Meloni, Market Intelligence Manager

DOD has made it clear: the space domain is a huge modernization priority. Concern over peer adversaries’ capabilities and adverse effects are a concern in every domain—sea, land, air, cyber—and space.

So many critical U.S. assets are hosted in space, and an attack on them would be potentially devastating. Because satellites are so vital to the technology we use in daily life, lawmakers and DOD leadership want to ensure that their ability to operate is better protected. As such, DOD has requested a 17% increase to the portfolio of space programs, bringing the total to $14B for the FY2020 budget request.

What DOD has not made quite clear–because there are still so many details to be worked out, many of them dependent on lawmakers–is exactly how its proposed and existing space organizations will align to support the goal of advancing U.S. space capabilities. Here’s an overview and status of the organizations DOD is looking at to strengthen the space domain. Read more of this post

Changes Coming for IT at DOD Fourth Estate Agencies

Stephanie Meloni

By Stephanie Meloni, Market Intelligence Manager

The DOD CIO office continues to put a strong emphasis on moving as many IT functions as possible to an enterprise construct. This includes efforts like milCloud, JEDI, data and network consolidation.

A newer consolidation and standardization project that will be picking up steam this year is the Fourth Estate network consolidation. Fourth Estate agencies consist of 28 Pentagon agencies outside of the Service branches. Combined, these agencies are responsible for about a fifth of the DOD’s budget.

The FY19 NDAA initially requested budget cuts for the Fourth Estate, and a GAO report which came out last September requested some efficiency initiatives around consolidation for the Fourth Estate. As a result of these budget and efficiency recommendations, DOD plans to consolidate network and other IT functions.

Read more of this post

AI in DOD: Three Places to Get Started

Stephanie Meloni

By Stephanie Meloni, Market Intelligence Manager

The Department of Defense is considering artificial intelligence for everything from improved maintenance and repair of weapons systems to supply chain management and improving business processes. Industry can expect to see exponential growth once implementation takes off.

Consider Project Maven, for example. The DOD’s AI solution for analyzing imagery for intel purposes, has seen funding grow from $16 million in fiscal 2018 to $93 million in fiscal 2019 — a 480 percent increase!

Central to DOD’s AI implementation efforts is the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. JAIC was created quickly to ensure that DOD effectively and ethically builds out its AI capabilities. The organization will look at AI cross-domain solutions across the service branches, as well as specific component projects.

Read more of this post

The CSO: DOD’s New Way to Acquire Commercial Technology

Stephanie MeloniBy Stephanie Meloni, Market Intelligence Manager

As the use of Other Transactional Authority grows across the Department of Defense as a way to cut back on the time and cost of traditional acquisition programs, a new breed of OTA is emerging. The Commercial Solutions Opening, or CSO, has the potential to have significant value to commercial technology vendors and will give government procurement officers more flexibility in making commercial technology awards.

What are CSOs?

CSOs are a type of OTA designation aimed at buying new and innovative commercial technology. Whereas OTAs are designed for researching, developing and prototyping technology projects, CSOs are aimed specifically at commercial technology that already exists, but will be new to the Department.

Initially, the CSO was piloted only to be used by the limited number of buying activities with OTAs already in place, but a memo released last summer expanded their use across the entire DOD.

Read more of this post

How the DOD’s FY19 Modernization Priorities Align to Technology

Stephanie MeloniGlobal communication concept. Technological abstract background.

By Stephanie Meloni, consultant

The Department of Defense continues to evolve at a fast pace to modernize and stay ahead of adversarial threats. This past year has brought many changes in terms of organizations within the DOD. To name a few, we have the Army Futures Command, the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center and the Defense Innovation Unit, that dropped the “X” (for experimental), to imply its permanent role in helping the DOD stay on the cutting edge of technology.

These organizational shifts and changes show the DOD’s response to the changing warfighting environment. Last year, much of the priority was on restoring readiness—now the Department has shifted to modernization. Increases in budget (and actual appropriations) are allowing decision makers to more strategically align funds to the investment priorities that need the most attention. IT spending is set to peak in FY19, so it will be a critical year for technology companies to come in and help the DOD with solutions that will help them stay focused on modernization. Here are just a few of those priorities: Read more of this post

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