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Suzanne White, DIA Deputy Director, Unpacks Intelligence Community Acquisition & Innovation

Suzanne White, deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), recently discussed how the Intelligence Community (IC) has spearheaded new efforts to integrate emerging technologies to remain up to speed with the advancing science and technology landscape.

During her keynote address at GovConWire’s IC Acquisition and Innovation Forum, White analyzed acquisition and procurement within the IC, including technology strategies and development, as well as industry partnerships. 

To hear White’s complete address, you can access the OnDemand video footage by visiting Potomac Officers Club’s Event Archive

Stacey Page, vice president of national intelligence community accounts at SAIC, introduced White prior to White’s keynote address. “White works to execute the DIA mission… we are honored to have her speak today,” Page said. 

White began her address by addressing public-private partnerships. “Without a doubt, partnerships are critical to the success of DIA’s critical missions,” White said. “Our partnership with industry is vital.”

She added that there have been major advancements in emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI); however, as the nation’s capabilities increase, adversaries continue to develop new capabilities that boosts the need for a competitive advantage. 

“There is urgency for DIA, as well as the greater Intelligence Community, to act and create solutions better suited for this greater and more dangerous competitive environment,” White added. 

To combat and overcome adversaries, DIA launched the Machine-Assisted Analytic Rapid-Repository System (MARS). MARS will transform the current databases (MIDB) that house foundational military intelligence into an advanced, comprehensive, scalable, flexible, and rigorous intelligence environment for the next century.

The cloud-based repository platform will transition military intelligence data away from physical servers that require manual input across disparate networks. MARS will use automation and analytics to run a re-engineered environment designed to handle mission information, intelligence, infrastructure, space and cyberspace databases.

According to a recent DIA document, MARS will “create a military intelligence environment for the warfighter and analyst similar to the World Wide Web for consumers.” 

“MARS acts as a virtual model of the real world. It helps warfighters assess missions and make actionable decisions. It also enables us to share data with our foreign partners,” White said. “In Dec. 2020, MARS achieved milestone A, which is a significant milestone for our acquisition model.”

COVID-19 has challenged DIA, but with industry partnerships, the agency was able to stay on track with its critical missions. White provided an example of how the industry has supported the department with systems requirements. She noted that industry helped deploy a MARS bot to gain greater information, and keep up to the agency’s schedule. 

DIA’s innovation team has driven many solutions to modernize the agency. The team’s central focus has been to leverage the full range and scope of forward leaning ideas from all qualified and interested sources, including traditional and non-traditional partners, to support innovation across the entity of the federal government. 

“We need your innovation. More than that we need systems that we can integrate quickly and wholly. We need simplified processes — to plug and play, if you will. Additionally, we need systems and technology that will enable us to innovate at scale,” White added. “It’s imperative that we stay ahead of the innovation curve.”

Following White’s address, the IC Acquisition and Innovation Forum featured an expert panel, hosting leaders across the IC, including agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and National Security Agency (NSA), as well as industry partners. 

To hear White’s complete address, as well as other notable leaders’ perspectives, you can access the OnDemand video footage by visiting Potomac Officers Club’s Event Archive

Mark your calendars for March 4th, when Potomac Officers Club will host its next event, the 2021 Space Development Agency (SDA) Forum. To register for the 2021 SDA Forum, as well as view upcoming opportunities, visit Potomac Officers Club’s Event Page.

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