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

National Cyber Strategy – What Does It Mean for Those Selling Security Tools to the Government?

Lloyd McCoy Jr.

By Lloyd McCoy, Market Intelligence Manager

You’ve probably heard of the release last week of both the National Cyber Strategy and the Department of Defense (DOD) Cyber Strategy. Some of the priorities highlighted are robust information sharing, greater resilience, encryption, cyber scalability and hardening of IT systems. In fact, we’ve seen demand for these capabilities reflected in recent cyber budgets which have hovered between $13 and$15 billion over the last couple of years. While the documents bring together much of the cyber policies heard from the administration over the past year, there are some important key takeaways you should be aware of as we head into FY19.

Offensive Cyber
One of the most notable developments is a more overt embrace of offensive cyber operations. The DOD Cyber Strategy especially, hones in on this “defending forward” strategy, where the U.S. will confront threats before they reach U.S. networks.

By giving the government more latitude to conduct proactive and offensive cybersecurity, we could see more funding and resources allocated to these operations as early as next year. Expect more demand for network mapping and reconnaissance, data extraction, firewall tunneling and encryption/decryption tools, just to name a few. I expect most of the funding and demand for offensive cyber tools will be generally confined to U.S. Cyber Command and the intelligence agencies.

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5 Reasons Shutting Down DISA Would Be a Bad Idea

Lloyd McCoy Jr.

By Lloyd McCoy, Market Intelligence Manager

Not for the first or last time, Congress this year considered getting rid of some agencies as a cost-cutting move, and the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) may end up on that list. DISA provides networking and communications hardware and software for systems and services across all of the DOD. What might happen if the agency that handles military networking, computing and communications services gets the axe?

Senior leader communication support – DISA provides secure communication services to the White House and to other senior leaders. Keeping the infrastructure and its security under one roof creates operating efficiencies.

CYBERCOM could, theoretically, handle the role, but it would dilute that agency’s core mission of ensuring U.S. military cyber superiority – and force considerable reorganization to do so.

Spectrum management – Managing the electromagnetic spectrum is crucial to the security of communication, navigation and warfighting. That’s part of DISA’s job for the DOD, and it’s more important than ever with the networking of our ground, sea and aviation military assets. It would be a coordination nightmare to make service branches and military agencies share risk assessment and vulnerability information in their warfighting communications.

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Time to Start a New Conversation About AI in Government

Lloyd McCoy Jr.

By Lloyd McCoy, Marketing Intelligence Manager

Artificial Intelligence is becoming a topic of real interest to federal and SLED governments. Companies that sell storage solutions, automation, big data, security and data mining tools should be encouraged to start a new conversation with their clients and prospects. Here are some of the drivers behind AI in government.

Dramatic cost savings
According to Deloitte, low-investment AI could improve human task speeds up to 20 percent. That would save 96.7 million human hours annually in government. A high investment in AI could save well over one billion human hours per year.

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OTAs Are Heating Up in the DOD

Mark Wisinger_100x135By Mark Wisinger, senior analyst

Every program manager and acquisition professional in DOD has been leveraging the newest buzzword: OTA, which stands for Other Transaction Authority. OTAs have been in the acquisition arsenal for years, but Congress just recently relaxed rules and restrictions on their use, paving the way for OTAs to be the new hot method for rapid technology insertion and piloting. The Office of the Undersecretary of Acquisition and Sustainment recently has been working on an OTA handbook to help guide DOD acquisition professionals on the do’s and don’ts of this newly revitalized procurement method. It’s no surprise we’re starting to see the use of more and more OTAs.

According to Bloomberg Government, DOD accounted for $2.1B of $2.3B spent through OTAs in 2017. The Army has been a leader in DOD driving most of the OTA usage increases to date, concentrated in the Army Materiel Command, although the Army Cyber Command’s use of OTAs is growing. The Defensive Cyber Operations office, within Army’s PEO EIS is setting up a new OTA vehicle known as C-RAPID, which will be targeting rapid piloting and insertion of defensive cyber tools. Companies that sign on to the consortium will field between 6 and 24 Army technology requests a year for defensive cyber tools.

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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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New IoT Opportunities to be Found at DoD Facilities

Mark Wisinger_100x135Internet of Things

By Mark Wisinger, senior analyst

Facilities management continues to be the strongest use case for IoT solution sales, especially at the Department of Defense, which maintains thousands of facilities both within and outside the continental U.S. Each individual building contains a wide variety of sensors and devices that need to be actively monitored.

A single building may have systems for fire alarm reporting, closed-circuit TV, HVAC, lighting control, smart grid and physical access control and may include water management and power management devices. The massive amounts of data collected by these systems could help drive better decision making to help the DOD operate more efficiently, protect its assets and personnel, and save money.

Access to HVAC, utility and security system data can provide enormous benefits, but there is inevitable risk too. The DOD is trying to get beyond just worrying about data security compliance and instead wants to focus on managing an acceptable amount of risk.

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