NGA, NRO stand up joint commercial geoint activity

In a joint initiative, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office announced a project aimed at better leveraging commercial geoint.

The Commercial Geoint Activity is an evolving initiative spawned through an acknowledgement by both agencies' leadership to transition emerging commercial-sector technologies to real capabilities, NGA's CGA project lead Mike Foster told C4ISRNET in an interview. To take advantage of these capabilities, he said, it made sense to figure out a way to bring in emerging capabilities and pair it with legacy systems and capabilities.

"The CGA will shape how we interact with the commercial geoint industry and enable us to more efficiently and effectively explore alternatives to traditional collection and analysis," NGA Director Robert Cardillo said in a released statement. "Most importantly, as the geoint functional manager, I will look to the CGA to improve my ability to satisfy geoint needs using all available solutions."

While not a formal acquisition mechanism, "CGA is intended to be largely an advisory capacity back to those more formalized acquisition channels that are resident and will continue to be resident in our respective agencies," Foster said, adding that it's more so to provide that strategy to agencies to utilize an emergent and disruptive market.

NRO's CGA project lead Pete Muend described the program as an outward-facing storefront for potential commercial suppliers. Muend told C4ISRNET that CGA was designed to seize upon the potential in the commercial space to help inform acquisition in the future with the potential to spawn new contractual opportunities.

Foster said the ability to provide joint assessments where the government is privy to the same inputs as industry -- and doing so by engaging industry in a joint effort -- is one of the benefits of CGA. These joint assessments will be valuable, especially in making decisions on short time cycles, officials noted.

"We believe there is a very exciting future for these commercial geoint providers, and the NRO and NGA want to work with industry and make the smart decisions over the coming months and years," NRO Director Betty Sapp said in a statement. "The new CGA partnership presents a great opportunity for us to provide a coordinated voice and integrated approach to our industry partners."

In terms of next steps, Muend said there are a few initiatives ongoing, one being an assessment framework to make sense of commercial proposals. Near-term objectives, he said, are to ensure CGA gets up to speed and standing up an initial operational capacity at the end of the fiscal year.

NGA said in a release last month that CGA will begin operations no later than the end of September 2016.

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