The department expects 20 to 30 corporations to join the group, a spokesman said.
The Defense Department formalized a pilot program that gives defense contractors broader access to special access programs in order to spur technology developments, according to a DOD memo.
First reported Monday in Air Force Magazine, DOD Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord announced the establishment of the DOD Special Access Program Corporate Portfolio Program, in a memo to the defense industrial base Dec. 15.
Special access programs, or SAPs, are used to secure sensitive, classified projects. Lord in the memo indicated the rapid pace of technological innovation means more protection is needed to maintain the U.S. competitive edge.
“This increased protection, resulting in many activities being secured in special access programs (SAPs), challenges the DOD’s ability to share critical information and to collaborate with the [defense industrial base] to deliver capability to the warfighter,” Lord wrote in the memo.
The Corporate Portfolio Program, or CPP, solves this problem by giving corporations on contract for SAPs greater access to the SAP itself, according to the memo, which outlines four main purposes for the program:
- Improve integration of related efforts to increase technology development and cost efficiencies.
- Help companies better tailor research and development projects to DOD needs.
- Give industry security experts SAP access so they can better protect sensitive information they handle.
- Enable DIB corporations to fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities.
Participation in the CPP is voluntary, but only corporations with 15 or more SAP contracts are eligible. The preceding pilot program began in 2016 and included nine corporations, DOD Spokesperson Jessica Maxwell told Nextgov in an email.
Maxwell said the department expects 20 to 30 corporations will eventually sign on to participate and added the program is structured to be available to smaller and non-traditional companies in addition to the typical defense juggernauts.