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We Need Your Input

March 2011
By Kent R. Schneider, SIGNAL Magazine

As you know, AFCEA’s primary mission is to promote effective and ethical communication among government, industry and academia. We help inform government on the capabilities that exist in industry to meet its needs, and we help inform industry of government requirements so it can plan investments in research and development and product and service advancement. Recently, we have received several requests to help government obtain visibility of capabilities in industry and academia, large and small, within specific priority areas of interest.

Traditionally, we have done this generally with our Source Book, both in print and online, and specifically with our Security Directory, which is designed primarily to meet the needs of the Department of Homeland Security. Both the Source Book and the Security Directory can be viewed on the AFCEA International website, www.afcea.org, under Publications.

Now we are being asked to develop directories specific to functional areas. We will roll out two in the near term. The first will cover health information technology, and the second will address cyber. When the framework for each of these directories is ready later this month, we will put out a call to industry and academia to populate the directory with their capabilities in these areas. There will be no cost to participate in the directory other than the effort of providing capabilities.

Every part of government has difficulty understanding in detail the capabilities that exist in industry and academia, particularly in small business. This is an opportunity for all AFCEA corporate members to have visibility within the government—and at no cost. Companies can enter as few or as many capabilities in each functional area as they wish. This can entail whatever an organization wants the government to know in terms of what it brings to the table in products and/or services.

Many of you have shared with me in the past that you find it difficult to obtain visibility with some part of the government. Here is a chance to get your offerings out there where they can potentially be searched by all government agencies. Initially, the commitment to use this capability comes only from the U.S. government, but I intend to offer this capability to other governments as well. Non-U.S. companies that wish to do business with the U.S. government can, of course, list their capabilities in these directories.

As you know, a good deal of effort exists at every level of government to reform, improve and shorten information technology acquisition. Traditionally, when government organizations have a requirement and want to determine the availability of potential sources, they will issue a request for information (RFI) or a Sources Sought. This process does provide insight into capability and interest, but months are consumed in the preparation, dissemination, input and processing of such requests. Having an online directory will provide more timely input and give broader visibility over all of industry and academia because many companies do not respond to such requests.

Here is where we need your help. These directories will be useful to government, industry and academia only if they are comprehensive. If the directories are to serve their purpose, we need all of you to populate them with your capabilities. We also need you to do so as quickly as possible because the government will determine utility based on the results it receives through use. Think broadly as you populate these directories; list all of the capabilities you believe are related to the functional area. Be as specific as you can. Make sure the capabilities are available at the time of posting. If you are not sure whether a product or service is mature enough to list, ask us. We will help you represent yourself in the directory in the best possible light, and it will be realistic.

This is an opportunity to bring together the community in partnership around priority requirements. Please help make it a reality. We will let you know as soon as the new directories are available for input.

As always, thanks for all you do