DISA Secures $9.7M from DOD Rapid Innovation Fund Program

In a time of budgetary constraints, DISA has acquired $9.7 million from the DOD Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) to fund innovative technologies in support of the American warfighter.

The DISA Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) Program is a research and development project and process in support of critical defense acquisitions programs.  The DISA RIF team reports to the DISA Chief Technology Officer (CTO), and partners with the DOD Chief Information Office (CIO) and their Cyber Directorate.  DISA RIF receives cyber security topics from within the agency and those topics are reviewed to see which ones fit best into the DOD RIF Program.

“The team works with OSD Office of Small Business Programs to acquire funding for small businesses for innovative projects specifically in cyber security,” said Erin Maultsby, a CTO electronics engineer and the DISA RIF coordinator and portfolio manager.  “RIF is about getting small business capabilities faster into the hands of those who need them.”

Maultsby clarified that the cyber security proposals receive a priority for awards to small businesses; the project generally should be completed within two years; be able to transition and be supported from within the agency; and be funded within the maximum allowance DISA would get from OSD OSBP, which is $3 million.

“We’re looking to solve problems,” said Maultsby.  “[The technology we select] has to be a mature prototype.  The goal is that at the end of two years it will be something that is ready to be operationalized.”

The DISA RIF has already secured more than $9.7 million in funding from the OSD OSBP since fiscal year (FY) 2013 and they are requesting an additional $9 million for three FY 2016 programs.

“DISA’s investments in cybersecurity, networking technologies, and computing and storage technologies make it uniquely postured to access the best in class from the U.S. market — both the defense and private sector,” said Dan Cundiff, the overall coordinator for the DOD RIF program.  “DISA is uniquely postured to take advantage of commercial information system technologies and make those capabilities available and accessible to multiple defense customers.”

Examples of DISA topics would be the proposed FY 2016 topics: Transport Layer Security (TLS) Inspection; Cyber Intelligence as a Service; and Credential Misuse Detection.  Those are the three topics DISA RIF proposed to be sent out with the OSD OSBP Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for this year.  The OSD OSBP-approved BAA is then sent out on FedBizOps and anyone who wants to reply can in the form of a white paper.

Maultsby mentioned that the topics developed within DISA are not the only ones in the BAA.  The Army, Navy, Air Force, and combatant commands also have their own RIF programs.

John Mills, DOD CIO Cybersecurity Division chief, challenged the DISA RIF team to expand their partner base to work with the Services in FY 2017 and increase the number of awards from three to five.

“The FY17 RIF initiatives will be structured so that DOD CIO/DISA can focus on several topics of interest to the Services such as better situational awareness, asset visibility, cross domain solutions, and evolving the topic of two factor authentication and network access,” said Mills.

Maultsby said she and her team are up to the challenge, and added that DISA RIF and CTO are focused on improving the RIF Program process, resulting in significant efficiencies that have been institutionalized across the RIF portfolio.

“OSBP has a pot of money that is dedicated for Rapid Innovation,” said Maultsby.  “CTO has a great process in place to help us get increasingly more funds each year – essentially, we are potentially delivering  more innovative technology at a significantly lower cost because we’re getting better at the process.”

DISA logoThe DOD RIF program was established by the FY11 National Defense Authorization Act as a competitive, merit-based program to stimulate innovative technologies and reduce acquisition or lifecycle costs, address technical risks, improve the timeliness and thoroughness of test and evaluation outcomes, and rapidly insert such products directly in support of primarily major defense acquisition programs, but also other defense acquisition programs that meet critical national security needs.

For more information on the DOD RIF program please visit the Defense Innovation Marketplace RIF website.