Jim Long, deputy director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) GEOINT Services Office, recently gave an update on his office’s progress since it was formalized in 2017. Speaking May 8 at a USGIF GEOINTeraction Tuesday event hosted by Tesla Government, Long said GEOINT Services is looking to small teams of developers with geospatial experience to help the Intelligence Community (IC) achieve modernization.
Following the creation of the IC Information Technology Enterprise (IC ITE) and IC resources such as Amazon C2S, GEOINT Services aims to synchronize the delivery of platforms, software, and infrastructure as-a-service to be leveraged across the IC.
According to Long, many capabilities the IC needs already exist, but not as a service. GEOINT Services offers services in two general categories: backend/IT services such as common development tools available through enterprise contracts; and user-facing services that can be scaled across the enterprise.
“We are trying to be more transparent in terms of what our needs are,” Long said, pointing to software as an example. “… Right now I think [industry is] better postured to show us things than we are to understand the technical competence from an evaluation perspective.”
He said NGA is “starting to get back into the business of software” but doesn’t intend to build all the software itself.
“The most important thing is we’re going to have people who understand software, who are going to be in leadership positions, who will write better requirements, who will do better evaluations of software and software-facing systems as we move forward.”
As the IC shifts more toward enterprise acquisition and services, Long said cultural challenges persist.
“There’s no magic dust,” he said. ‘It’s still very hard for a technical organization to have mission drive requirements.”
As GEOINT Services moves forward, Long said the office is keeping in mind the needs of future analysts.
“I see the analyst of the future with at least two hats they wear—one’s an analyst, one’s a developer,” he said. “… How do we streamline the processes of the future, giving them the tools they need, the access to do that, and letting them focus on those core mission pieces? … How do I give them a development environment that they can spin up very quickly?”