'Our inability to work together is our greatest danger.' -- DIA Director LTG Michael Flynn. (Gannett Government Media Corp)
For more than a year officials at the Defense Intelligence Agency have been working on the Open Innovation Gateway, an environment run by DIA open to industry to share ideas, capabilities and concepts. Now, the gateway is on the verge of being ready.
DIA officials are set to demonstrate the system on June 25, the second day of the agency’s Innovation Day in Washington. But the Innovation Gateway’s champion, DIA Chief Innovation Officer Dan Doney, gave audience members at a June 23 USGIF event in Reston, Va., a preview of what to expect.
“It’s been dream of mine for a number of years to have a space where folks can develop on the outside in a way that we can transition into our mission setting without having to do reengineering,” Doney said. “The design there is to speed capability transition. The thing we’re specifically targeting is how to quickly move things from the outside in.”
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“Outside” can be out in the vast space of unsecured ideas and development, or it can be within the intelligence community but outside the IC’s shared IT environment (ICITE). The strict security parameters have rendered it difficult to quickly “forklift” new capabilities into DIA, or even to easily share ideas for new capabilities, but the goal is for the gateway to facilitate just that, Doney said.
“We’re bringing our mission setting out to industry—not our data, but our systems and most specifically our core security requirements for high fidelity,” Doney said. “So you can host your capabilities against these service end points…connecting to our core services to verify it’s ready for transition. And what’s more, in this environment you get to interact directly with end users, so you have an opportunity to iterate on your capability.”
One of the gateway’s core features is the use of protections that prevent a given company’s intellectual property from being stolen by competitors, and safeguards that prevent adversaries from getting in to learn what it is DIA is seeking to fill operational gaps.
For many, those security safeguards will be major selling points for the Innovation Gateway. But DIA Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn insists the biggest concern is not enemy access to DIA’s shortfalls, but the inability to easily collaborate that the gateway aims to relieve.
“Our inability to work together is our greatest danger. If I was concerned about anything it’d be competition,” Flynn said June 24 at DIA’s Innovation Day. “I’m not concerned about the adversary. There are adversaries everywhere. Ninety-nine percent of the time the problem is our inability to work together. That’s what keeps me up at night.”