WASHINGTON — The Department of Defense’s artificial intelligence organization has awarded contracts 79 vendors to streamline the procurement and delivery of test and evaluation tools, with each contract worth up to $15 million.

While companies began announcing their individual contracts in January, the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center only confirmed the awards in a Feb. 10 statement to reporters.

The test and evaluation blanket purchase agreement on behalf of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center is intended to establish a decentralized mechanism for artificial intelligence test and evaluation, creating criteria, performance metrics, standards and best practices for automated testing of artificial intelligence-enabled systems. Moreover, the agreement will focus on ensuring compatibility and standards for AI testing efforts across DoD.

Specific categories under the agreement include:

  • Test technology and tools;
  • Data set development/curation;
  • Test harness development;
  • Model output analysis;
  • Test planning;
  • Documentation;
  • Reporting;
  • Testing Services;
  • Targeted test and evaluation and independent verification and validation;
  • Algorithm test and evaluation;
  • System test and evaluation;
  • Operational test and evaluation;
  • Human factors/user acceptance test and evaluation, and;
  • Project management

Of the 79 companies awarded under the agreement, 44 are small businesses and 35 are large businesses, according to a spokesperson. They added that the agreement will foster competition in which both the government and private industry partners will mutually benefit from the streamlined methodologies implemented during this acquisition strategy.

The JAIC was created in 2018 to serve as a clearinghouse for all the DoD’s artificial intelligence efforts. In a December reorganization, the DoD created a chief digital and artificial intelligence officer to oversee the JAIC as well as the Defense Digital Service and the DoD’s chief data officer in an effort to better streamline digital efforts.

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

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