DIA Simplifies, Opens Vendor
Process to 'Disruptive' Ideas
By Cheryl Pellerin, American Forces Press Service.
Washington D.C. – (AFPS)
– June 27, 2014 – , June 26, 2014 – The highly secretive Defense Intelligence
Agency has streamlined and put aspects of its acquisition process online to take
advantage of talent and technologically “disruptive” ideas available outside its
usual vendor circles, DIA’s chief innovation officer said yesterday.
DIA Chief Innovation Officer Dan
Doney during DIA’s 2nd annual Innovation Symposium at the agency's HQ in
Dan Doney and his team hosted a two-day DIA Innovation
Symposium at DIA headquarters this week, during which the agency
uncharacteristically threw open its doors, common spaces and auditorium to
companies and their display booths, current vendors, and media representatives
with cellphones, recorders and cameras.
A highlight of the symposium was Doney’s unveiling of the
Open Innovation Gateway, an Internet-accessible environment in which any
potential vendor can apply for an account. Once an applicant is approved they
can use the site to demonstrate their technology directly to the specific
DIA-mission user. “The Open Innovation Gateway is a big part of our strategy to
make sure that we take full advantage of the best capabilities that exist and,
most importantly, that we have a model for reaching disruptive technologies,”
said Doney, defining disruptive technologies as “paradigm changing.”
In the old model, he said, a vendor had to travel to DIA’s
headquarters with a slide show presentation and sell someone who wasn’t the
mission user on how useful to the mission the new capability was. “What we
needed was a mechanism where [mission users] can interact with your capabilities,”
Doney told the audience. “They can be the tester of your capabilities in a
discovery mode, so even if we didn't know to ask for your capability you have an
opportunity to showcase it, because what we want to do is tie together the
mission user and the technologist.”
The Gateway model allows such technology to prove its worth
to DIA, in a relevant setting, before the agency invests heavily in the
application, the CIO added.
Even in the Open Innovation Gateway, Doney said, “we have to
take certain steps to maintain a safe, secure environment … and to make sure
we're operating efficiently and economically. But all the other steps in the
process that aren't value-added we want to streamline so we can take full
advantage of what you have to offer.”
Although the Gateway is not quite ready for public release,
eight companies called alpha providers were chosen by competitive solicitation
to vet the new system, Doney said. “It’s an environment where we can evolve
tradecraft and develop new approaches to our mission problems,” he explained.
Near the end of the symposium, Doney introduced Karyn Hayes-Ryan, the National
Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s deputy component acquisition executive and
director of the NGA Agility Strategic Initiative.
Last fall, the NGA began to revolutionize its relationship
with industry through a program called the geospatial intelligence, or GEOINT,
Solutions Marketplace, called GSM, which operates as an online exchange for
government and vendors, commercial partners, academic institutions and the
broader geospatial intelligence community. “We wanted to fundamentally change
how we were dealing with industry, how we were going to expand our relationship
with academia and how we were going to drive R&T organizations -- industry and
government -- to try to work some of our really hard problems,” Hayes-Ryan said,
“so we began our efforts late last year to try to drive innovation and agility
and created this concept of a GEOINT Solutions Marketplace.”
They wanted to see what solutions already existed, have the
capabilities demonstrated for them, and find an easy acquisition model so they
could get those capabilities quickly into users' hands, she added.
Looking around for models of such government streamlining,
she stumbled on Needipe DIA, Hayes-Ryan explained, a DIA project that uses an
unclassified website to communicate mission needs to innovators in industry and
Hayes-Ryan and Doney met later that year to discuss their
projects, she said. “Since then we have shared that vision and have pushed to
revolutionize those capabilities and the industry interaction,” Hayes-Ryan said.
“Central to NGA's strategy and also to ours is the idea of a
government-industry partnership and fostering those relationships,” Doney said.
DIA, NGA and other government partners are beginning to work
together in “ways that could be game changing,” he added.
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinAFPS)
Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn
Defense Intelligence Agency
Special Report: Defense Intelligence
Agency Opens Online Exchange, Standards to Potential Vendors