Gov Hub Dispatch #1: Intelligence Agencies Chart the Course with Commercial Solutions

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On May 6, the first day of GEOINT 2024, Pete Muend, Director, Commercial Systems Program Office, National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), and Devin Brande, Director, Commercial Operations, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), hosted a panel discussion at the Government Hub in the exhibit hall on the “Application of Commercial Solutions for GEOINT.” 

Muend explained that the NRO is currently facing a dynamic inflection point while in the midst of developing some of the world’s most capable architecture through partnerships with NGA, NSA, and more.  

“What can we bring to the commercial chapter?” Muend said, noting one of NRO’s most significant recent achievements is awarding the Electro-Optical Commercial Layer contract in May 2022.  

“As a result of that effort, we awarded—over the course of 10 years—$4 billion dollars in new contracts.” 

Brande emphasized that the future the industry has long looked toward is now upon us. 

NGA wants to articulate the vision for where the agency is headed and how its partners will work together to help get them there.  

“We have today a multi-phenomenology, proliferated architecture of commercial capabilities across multiple companies,” Brande said. “This, plus a sufficient chain of analytic capabilities, is what can and will help us into the future.” 

Charting technology and data optimization  

In another Government Hub panel discussion on May 6, multiple intelligence agencies came together to discuss data optimization, including:  

  • Dare King, Chief Operating Officer, Center for Cyber Intelligence, CIA 
  • Mike Foster, Chief Data Officer, U.S. Central Command 
  • Christopher Johnson, Deputy Chief Technology Officer, NGA 
  • Deepak Kundal, Chief Data Officer, NGA 

The group addressed data sources, integration, risks, and challenges.

“I treat data as a person…interrogate it long enough…it tells you what you want to know,” Kundal said.  

 The CIA in particular is challenged with managing and merging disparate data sets in varying formats.  

 “The challenge now with the diversity of data types and non-traditional data sources is that legacy architecture just doesn’t work,” King explained, adding there is plenty of blended architecture in place to move forward with data management. 

 With valuable data always comes the question of how to best protect it. 

 “There are a lot of buzzwords out there right now around cybersecurity,” Johnson said, but added it’s about “starting from the bottom:” basic inventory of people, data, and assets and taking time to learn what is on your network, where it is located, and what purpose it serves. 

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