Traditionally in the IC about 70 percent of the intelligence budget went to contractors for the procurement of technology and services (including analysis). Engineering services that control the development and integration of collection and analysis systems play a critical role in IC operations.
As opposed to development and SETA consulting services, systems engineering services apply proven engineering standards and best practices to the development of collection systems that are reliable, expandable and can be modified to meet changing mission requirements. As opposed to SETA consulting effort that provide personnel on an “as needed” basis, systems engineering programs generally offer solutions to meet specific mission requirements.
Traditional Procurement Models – Too Slow?
Historically, engineering services were acquired through a standard process with rules dictated by the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) in a slow, drawn out cumbersome process that often took years to implement. This process traditionally has resulted in a single award contract to a prime contract with in depth knowledge of the engineering requirements of the IC.
In today’s world of complex and rapidly evolving mission needs and technology development however, building systems that rapidly deliver actionable intelligence is required for mission critical success. No longer can a single system deliver all a mission’s needs.
It takes a system of systems and a team of teams that work in unison to integrate new capabilities, new technologies, and legacy systems to ensure mission critical success. These requirements would be easier to address if both budgets and timelines were unlimited. However, that is simply not the world in which we live.
These challenges underscore the importance of leveraging engineering talent to deliver mission outcomes on time and on budget. In addition, attention needs to establish a comprehensive approach that addresses the development of a common IC platform, cloud based systems and the migration of legacy systems into the cloud environment.
The Changing Acquisition Scene: Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (ICITE) and the Cloud
But new business processes like cloud availability, a common platform like ICDTE and several engineering methodologies available for use today have emerged. The IC has established its own private flavor of the cloud with an Amazon program called C2S. In addition, Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), scrum, scrum of scrums, waterfall, kanban, and spiral are all available as systems engineering methodologies. There can be confusion and debate over what methodology to use however.
A new study by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance suggests the private sector may find it difficult to fully support the ICITE and cloud transition effort without fundamental changes to the contracting and procurement processes intelligence agencies use to buy applications and infrastructure.
According to the study, Improvements to how agencies acquire services, software, and hardware are strongly desired by most personnel involved in the implementation of cloud computing, and many believe that the adoption of a cloud solution may eventually implement these changes.
Traditionally, a company imbedded themselves in an IC element for numerous years while providing a comprehensive approach to all IT support. However, they often had difficulty working across agency boundaries and an integrated cross agency approach is required. The cloud, based upon an open business process is a possible solution.
Contractors will have to develop and maintain skills to manage the increasingly complex systems and an agile contractor workforce will need to maintain mission focus in a rapidly changing threat environment.
Future Acquisition Strategies of the Intelligence Community – Are Government Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) for the Cloud the solution?
According to a senior technology professional at the National Security Agency (NSA), there are no technical barriers to the IC arriving at a community-wide approach to cloud computing, but this adoption may require agencies to overcome substantial integration issues. These include security requirements engineered in the system, comprehensive engineering for a total solution and in depth understanding of the operations of the IC and developing a hybrid cloud designed for the IC. To understand how to begin moving towards such a cloud computing model, organizations must balance their internal policy and business objectives.
In the Intelligence Community, the cloud has evolved by taking existing adoption models and applying them to multiple DoD and IC agencies. The ICITE common platform for all IC collection agencies may develop into such a solution.
As opposed to an outcome based engineering solution in the form of a single award contract however, several IC agencies are exploring GWAC services to address future mission requirements.
For example, Alliant, the General Services Administration(GSA)’s premier enterprise GWAC, provides flexible access to customized IT solutions from a large, diverse pool of industry partners. Alliant allows for long-term planning of large-scale program requirements.
But the GWAC, as presently configured, does not fit the needs of the community. Most contract holders have little or no IC domain knowledge or experience with operating in a cleared environment. Further, The Aliant GWAC offers resources only without the required mission solution outcomes. In effect the agency must assume the role as general contractor.
About Integrated Intel Solutions (IIS)
IIS has one mission – to support IT needs of the Intelligence Community (IC). This in-depth knowledge classifies IIS as a leader and partner of each IC agency.
Since 2002, IIS’s Managers have supported Intelligence Community needs and developed extensive domain and contract knowledge for each client agency. Because of this multi-year experience, IIS has developed a clearly defined strategy and approach that has ensured high levels of customer satisfaction.
The company has a defined focus on the collection, analysis and interpretation technology needs within the IC. Aspiration provides full life cycle engineering including cloud engineering and migration of legacy systems into the cloud. Aspiration is a team member on several large, multi-year, funded Engineering, Development and Operation and Sustainment contracts awarded by the IC.
The company consists of engineers trained in the latest technology solutions. We require, at a minimum, a TS/SCI security clearance or higher. We use a team approach for complex projects. Each team contains individuals with the technical and domain knowledge specific to the customer segment. This approach ensures that each qualified engineer has the opportunity for growth within key IC agencies.
Our strategy regarding our employees is proactive, as we identify the needs of everyone and match their skills/experience to projects where they would add the most value.
IIS’s extensive experience has led to the development of a successful business model that meets the specialized technology needs of the Intelligence Community, our customers, and our employees. For more information about IIS and career opportunities contact us.