Space Force…Lasers, Satellites, Debt, Oh My!

By Toné Mason, DOD Senior Analyst

The Space Force has finally been established and its focus will be on national security and the preservation of satellites. But what exactly is it and where is it going? Will it include spaceships that shoot out laser beams?

Lots of people are asking lots of questions, but let’s get started with the biggest elephant in the room – armed combat. The Space Force will not include armed combat scenarios and the Air Force has no intentions to make it that way. Now that bubbles have been burst, what is the point of the Space Force if it won’t include armed combat? Why do we need a Space Force if there will be no armed combat? Read more of this post

Tips for Preparing for DOD’s New CMMC

By Hollie Kapos, Corporate Counsel

The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) has been one of the hottest topics in government contracting this year. In fact, one of my colleagues addressed the topic in a blog on DOD and CMMC just a few months ago.

And no wonder everyone’s talking about it – it applies to ALL companies doing business with DOD, including OEMs, distributors and resellers. Here’s some basic information to help you prepare no matter where you are in the supply chain.

What is CMMC?

Intellectual property theft and cybercrime cost the United States billions of dollars and threatens national security. In order to protect government information from theft and other malicious cyber activity, DOD is making cybersecurity an acquisition foundation. Accordingly, DOD is developing the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification – a certification process to measure a company’s ability to protect sensitive government data.

Read more of this post

Federal Modernization Challenges and Priorities for FY20

By Jessica Parks, Analyst

Data visibility, cloud and emerging technologies were important themes at a the recent IT Modernization summit hosted by FCW. The conference sessions brought together acquisition and IT officials from a variety of federal agencies, small and large, both civilian and DOD, who shared how their agencies are delivering on modernization goals.

Here are more details about these topics and advice on how you can position your company and solutions to stand out from the crowd.

Data Visibility

Agencies need improved visibility into their data. Data is the cornerstone of multiple technologies, powering AI and machine learning algorithms and bolstering cybersecurity efforts. It is, quite simply, crucial for government agencies to be able to gain as much insight into their data as possible in order to keep pace with rapid technological developments. Don Heckman, Principal Director in the Deputy Chief Information Office for Cybersecurity at DOD, noted that “visibility into assets is a huge challenge” for the agency. Read more of this post

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

Data Centricity: The Heart of Federal IT

Tom O'Keefe

By Tom O’Keefe, Consultant

If there’s been a common theme I’ve been hearing lately, it’s data centricity.

It’s a fundamental shift in federal IT that’s been building for a few years that could have broad implications for the types of technology investments agencies will look to make in the future. Federal agencies are beginning to realize that not only is data their core asset, they know they need to make start making investments in the stewardship and utilization of that data. It’s not enough to just have data or protect data, that data needs to be operationalized and transformed from data to knowledge to action – and support the execution of the mission.

At an AFCEA Bethesda breakfast I attended in March, speakers from the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security affirmed the increasing understanding within their agency of the value of the data they capture throughout the course of their operations. It’s fair to note here that agencies have been talking about making better use of their data for years, but much like we’ve seen the slow and steady progression to cloud adoption, I believe we’re seeing a steady progression toward realizing the importance of data and turning it into actionable intelligence to enable the mission. 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

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