NGA CIO Discusses Agency Tech Priorities

NGA CIO Discusses Agency Tech Priorities

NGA CIO Discusses Agency Tech Priorities

On Thursday, Jan. 6, Mark Andress, Chief Information Officer and Director of IT Services at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), joined INSA’s Executive Vice President John Doyon for a virtual conversation that addressed a wide range of issues, including NGA's IT architecture, services, modernization, cloud capabilities, and the software needed to support NGA's Technology, Data, and Commercial GEOINT Strategies.

Andress began by reaffirming PDDNI Stacey Dixon’s comments from last March that the U.S. is in a “great power competition” and that NGA is being challenged to provide faster and better products and services. The technological advantage that the U.S. has enjoyed since the Cold War has significantly diminished. This is partly due to the explosion of geospatial intelligence data in the past decade combined with the lower cost and lower barriers to enter the space. To succeed in this competition, Andress stressed the importance of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies that have the potential to fundamentally change how NGA operates. He believes that NGA must become the world’s best in computer vision, which involves using computers to substitute for what human eyes and minds have traditionally accomplished.

View Session Recording. Special thanks to host sponsor: Leidos

Addressing his priorities for the coming year, Andress emphasized his department’s focus on cybersecurity and to ensure the continued integrity of current operations. In response to questions about zero trust implementation, Andress assured listeners that NGA is adopting the Department of Defense’s reference frame for zero trust and that NGA already has many of the important building blocks in place to successfully implement it. Furthermore, Andress explained that NGA is the result of mergers of multiple agencies overtime, which has resulted in the operation of various computer systems throughout the agency. To combat the challenges that this causes, Andress and his team are rolling out a common operating environment this year, which will modernize NGA’s global computing infrastructure. He is also focused on laying out the IT infrastructure that will support the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Andress also praised Vice Admiral Sharp’s “moonshot” strategy to modernize NGA and emphasized the importance of the program’s mission imperatives, which include (1) assured positioning, navigation, timing and targeting, (2) accelerated tasking orchestration, (3) data access and integrity, and (4) analytic workflow modernization.

In addition to modernizing its IT infrastructure at its main headquarters, NGA is also building a new, high-tech NGA West facility in St. Louis where industry and academia can work together with government. The vision for this facility is to successfully accommodate traditional intelligence gathering and analysis at the classified level alongside a purely unclassified environment that will be located at the same facility. This will allow NGA to work with academia and unclassified companies that may not want to invest in a clearance. NGA is currently welcoming solutions to connectivity, collaboration, and wireless challenges on the new campus. In closing, Andress encouraged any companies interested in working with NGA to reach out to David Gauthier, NGA’s Director of Commercial and Business Operations, via the NGA website.

Press Coverage: 

Intelligence Agency Looks to Mix Cleared, Uncleared Workers
Defense One

NGA CIO eyes big shifts for cloud, cybersecurity and machine learning in 2022
Federal News Network

NGA CIO winning the GEOINT race goes beyond speed

NGA Setting Up Environment to Support Classified and Unclassified Work
Fed Tech Magazine

Tim Crozier

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