news | 23 September 2022

Providing Rapid Technology Assessment and Evaluation Capability

Two companies to prototype a process that the DoD can utilize to quickly assess and implement critical commercial technologies.

Army training software building a more agile, lethal force

(Daniel Lafontaine)

Mountain View, CA (September 23, 2022)—The Department of Defense (DoD) remains encumbered by acquisition processes that are largely designed to procure major weapons systems and have failed to evolve since the Cold War. Current processes are optimized to buy exquisite, large systems in a matter of decades. Meanwhile, the private sector is able to assess and evaluate emerging technologies to meet commercial product development cycles measured in a matter of days, weeks, or months.

To tap into the best practices of these rapid and streamlined development cycles, the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), in partnership with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), is pathfinding an initiative called Proving Grounds. This effort will provide a rapid, commercial-like process of vetting technology that will result in more timely, omni-domain assessments while also meeting government standards.

“Tactical units have little influence over procurement activities, even though they own the problems and lead the solutions. Proving Grounds is a process to eliminate the barrier of access to commercial technology and innovation to the warfighter,” according to MSgt William Thompson, AFSOC. “The goal of Proving Grounds will be to bridge this paradox of meeting government standards and shortening the chain from requirement validation to resource integration via business-to-business relationships. Partnering with DIU and industry to modernize acquisitions introduces order-of-magnitude efficiencies that will empower personnel at any level to accelerate change."

DIU and AFSOC received 50 responses to the Proving Grounds solicitation. A panel of DoD subject matter experts facilitated a rigorous and competitive Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) down-select process, resulting in the selection of two vendors. 

The two vendors selected are Second Front Systems (2F), a public benefit software company accelerating the delivery of mission-critical software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions to the government, and Dark Wolf Solutions, a small business provider of cybersecurity assessment, software development, cloud-native platform engineering, DevSecOps implementation, Enterprise IT (EIT), supply chain risk analysis, and technically-focused operational support. Both vendors have extensive experience with the Fedramp process and accreditation of systems to run on government networks.