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THE DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Dan Callahan

One of the Big Six IC agencies is the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).  For a pretty good introductory video, browse here:   http://www.dia.mil/video.html    In an honest moment, I will admit that I vacillate between frustration and passion for this critically important agency.  Rather than venting about my impressions of the Agency I will keep this blog entry positive and focus on “how you and I can provide real solutions” to an organization that really does need them, and how we can help them to be everything they should be as a vital member of the IC. 

 

(Don’t forget to browse their org chart on the main DIA web page, at www.dia.mil ).

 

I occasionally remind myself that this Agency exists because of the legal structure of our Department of Defense, stemming back to WWII.  Recall that during WWII, there was no such thing as “joint” commands.  This would have been a foreign concept to anyone in my dad’s generation of warfighters.  Today, jointness has truly transformed the DoD out of pure necessity, and is slowly transforming the IC, for the same reasons.  Juxtaposed to jointness is the autonomy of the service branches and the leadership layers represented by the Pentagon (i.e., the “policy, budget and process” organizations within the DoD).  Hence, in my view, the DIA exists to unify what would otherwise be autonomous DoD intell services into a cohesive, non-overlapping whole, that efficiently optimizes (READ: eliminate duplication and waste from...) those defense intell services.    Yep, this is really easy to say… but almost intractable to accomplish.  As long as autonomy exists among the DoD intell services, there will need to be a DIA.

 

Okay, with this background, it is easier for me to forgive the DIA for not solving problems as quickly as I think they should.  If herding cats is virtually impossible, herding service Chiefs is truly impossible (okay, I am exaggerating just a bit in order to make my point…).  So, how should you and I approach the DIA with services and solutions that can make a difference?

 

Begin with this question:  What product or service could my company provide that streamlines an existing process, optimizes an existing system, unifies what is currently disparate, simplifies what is currently complex … or otherwise drives some sort of efficiency across the DoD intelligence services?  If you have a reasonable answer to this, you may be ready to engage.

 

My first choice in serving the DIA would be the “mission side” of the house, not the staff, administrative and infrastructure side.  The later have their work cut out for them as they simply A) manage day-to-day systems, B) modernize and refresh aging infrastructure and of course C) tackle moving to locations that reduce operational risk.  The mission side of the house will be much more focused on accomplishing a specific intell deliverable or capability towards our Afghanistan troops and tends to be much more focused in their efforts and funding.  This sense of urgency makes things happen more quickly on this side, but if you’re providing infrastructure solutions, you will want to sell to the staff side of the DIA.

 

Whether your organization is on the outside or the inside, to sell into this Agency, you must attend the annual DoDIIS conference and you must be prepared to engage DIA managers, at all levels, with your differentiated value proposition.  Laser targeted networking at these kind of events is vital.  I have also learned that because the DIA is very compartmentalized in the way it is managed, this approach is also the only way an existing contractor expands his revenue base, too.  As with the individual who is granted a TS clearance, so with the small contractor team… cleared resources tend to be hyper-focused on delivery not business development. So, even existing contractors need the conferences to network (let along accomplish the necessary branding and pure marketing).   Long gone are the days where you could just “walk the halls” and pick up business in these agencies.  You and I must be constantly looking for problems to solve, processes to optimize, and systems that need to be overhauled.  Then engage with a well thought-out solution.   Teaching your on site and delivery teams to do this naturally, is a critical management skill as a DIA contractor.  In summary, I use the DoDIIS conference to understand who I should be speaking with and then the follow up begins and lasts about a year.

 

If you are not currently on a team or a task order at the DIA, you should do as much background reading as you can.  The SITE contract (stands for Solutions for the Information Technology Enterprise) has now been fully awarded and money is beginning to flow through it.  Via networking, get connected to the program managers at the prime organizations and remain flexible.  This may take time and you should stress cost savings in future budget cycles since this is a top priority for the DIA leadership.  Casey Henson, the CTO, is a very competent federal manager and is accessible.  Don’t be put off if she hands you off to one of the staff managers.  Realize this is exactly what you want.  It is not the CTO’s role to work on projects at the level you’re likely to need support.

 

There are also other conferences and table top events that will be productive, if you approach them as I have described in previous posts.   Check with www.afcea.org, www.ncsi.com, www.ndia.org and www.fbcinc.com to assure you’re not missing any of the top events. 

 

 

Good luck and stay positive… they need your help!