The Intelligence Community Wants to Hear Your Cutting-Edge Tech Pitch

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ODNI is expanding one of its major vendor outreach programs to speed up adoption of emerging tech and modernize the intelligence community’s IT infrastructure.

The intelligence community is expanding one of its major industry partnership programs to speed up the adoption of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and modernize its IT operations.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence recently announced plans to broaden the scope of the Intelligence Science and Technology Partnership, or In-STeP program, to address more of the critical issues facing spy agencies today. The program, which allows vendors to pitch their products directly to intelligence leaders, is meant to foster closer relationships between industry and one of the more tight-lipped wings of the government.

According to ODNI’s announcement on FedBizOpps, companies now have the opportunity to present solutions that would directly address the intelligence community’s six strategic initiatives: 

  • Increasing adoption of AI and automation.
  • Building a workforce with both government and private sector expertise.
  • Accelerating the acquisition process.
  • Modernizing IT infrastructure and data management.
  • Expanding private sector partnerships.
  • Improving the country’s cyber posture. 

Officials went on to list a couple dozen areas where there’s especially high demand from spy agencies, including artificial intelligence, cyber capabilities, identity management, political influence campaigns and space.

Interested vendors must first be cleared by ODNI’s Transformation and Innovation Office, according to the announcement. If approved, companies will have the chance to pitch their solutions either virtually or in-person to teams of scientists, researchers and support contractors across the government’s intelligence and national security apparatus. Meetings typically last about 90 minutes, officials said.

“If your company or organization is working on technology, research or an idea that advances the state of the art with respect to the strategic initiatives ... the ODNI wants to hear from you,” they said in the post.

Today, intelligence officials see technology as one of the primary drivers of geopolitical strength in the years ahead. In the 2019 National Intelligence Strategy, leaders highlighted the threats posed by AI, offensive cyber and biotechnology if used by adversaries, and stressed the importance of maintaining national security agencies’ technological edge.

To that end, the intelligence community is doubling down on advanced analytics tools like machine learning to more quickly sift through the mountains of data being collected around the globe. As the booming digital economy opens up more data to more people than ever before, national security will increasingly hinge on how fast countries can make sense of the information, according to Sue Gordon, the principal deputy director of national intelligence.

“Every technology is available to everyone, and the one that can put it to clever use faster is the one that’s going to win,” she said at the Defense One Tech Summit in June. “We are going to have to make machines integrated into all our processes.”