How NGA plans to reinvent its acquisition efforts

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is looking to revamp its acquisition process to lean heavily on small businesses and agile spending authorities.

Change is coming to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's acquisition strategy.

"I'm not going to give too much of it away, but I am looking forward to sharing with you a new approach that I'm taking to acquisition.… We're overhauling it," the agency's Deputy Director Justin Poole announced Feb. 28, during a U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation event previewing its upcoming 2018 GEOINT conference.

Poole, who also serves as the agency's component acquisition executive, said he will lead a panel detailing the NGA's acquisition restructure at GEOINT in Tampa, Fla., in April.

No timeline was given, but Poole said NGA's component acquisition executive team will work with the chief procurement executive and the CIO and drive changes in the intelligence agency's consolidated IT and services shop, which launched in 2015.

Poole told FCW the overhaul was more of "an alignment activity" because "we have a hard time explaining what the mission outcomes are."

"I want our acquisition program to make more sense from a mission perspective. So it has a lot more to do with aligning the way IT programs are managed for support-specific mission areas," Poole told FCW. "What I want to do is make sure we understand what that looks like and then ensure we have contracts properly aligned to those mission programs."

Poole said the realignment would include leaning on small businesses and using other transaction authorities, which allow the Department of Defense to carry out rapid prototyping and pilot programs, and increasingly relatively large acquisitions.

"That's why we created Office of Ventures and Innovation … to look at how we can use, within the bounds of regulations, innovative ways of working with industry," Poole said. That office launched in 2017.

Poole's efforts follow those of former Deputy Director Susan Gordon, who teed up acquisition changes in 2015, issuing guidance for speedy cycles and penning an open letter advocating for more agile procurement practices. Gordon moved on to the post of principal deputy at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in August of last year.