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.

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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.

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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.

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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

What’s the Future of NETCENTS-2 at Air Force?

Stephanie MeloniBy Stephanie Meloni, consultant

More details have begun to emerge about how the Air Force intends to fulfill procurement of products after NETCENTS-2 expires in November 2019. Recently, GSA blogged about the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Air Force and GSA. This MOU outlines a partnership between the two organizations that will allow the Air Force to establish a blanket purchase agreement (BPA) from GSA’s IT Schedule 70. This will entirely replace NETCENTS-2 for products.

The biggest change affecting potential bidders of this contract will be the requirement to be on GSA IT Schedule 70, which can take some time. However, teaming between companies is allowed, so subcontracting may be an option if that is the case. Many of the other details remain the same—the BPA will still be mandatory, as NETCENTS-2 is, and the competition type remains full and open. The ceiling value of the IT Products BPA is anticipated to be slightly lower than the current ceiling of $5.5B over five years. The number of awardees could marginally exceed the twenty-five NETCENTS-2 products category awardees.

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AI in the Cards for DOD of the Future

Stephanie Meloni

By Stephanie Meloni, consultant

Across the Department of Defense artificial intelligence and machine learning are gaining real traction. And plans are in the works to establish a center dedicated to delivering AI solutions across the DOD, as well as a proposal for an AI and machine learning council as part of the FY19 National Defense Authorization Act.  DOD agencies are very interested in using AI to combat and overmatch potential adversaries — and there’s no shortage of use cases across the DOD. Going forward, technology companies will want to be aware of differences between customer environments before engaging with a potential customer.

Recently, early adapters gathered at an AFCEA DC luncheon to discuss recent developments and challenges in AI and machine learning. Here are some highlights.

DISA, an example of a non-tactical customer, is looking at how to use machine learning for cyber situational awareness. DISA uses commercial machine learning technologies and contractors for Acropolis and their Big Data Platform to combat cyber threats and attacks. AI can help them shift their cyber strategy from reactive to proactive.

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