The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is ready to buy a lot of commercial data but needs a “trusted broker” to ensure it is getting the best information at the right price.
As the intelligence community’s source for geophysical intelligence—visual and other relevant data based on physical location—NGA has lots of resources. But the agency can’t see everywhere.
Rather than spending large amounts of time and money building more intelligence infrastructure, NGA has been looking at ways to enhance its vision through existing commercial data sources.
“The Geophysical Data Purchasing contract will serve as an avenue for NGA to purchase off-the-shelf geophysical data from external sources in areas of the world where NGA currently has gaps in data coverage and will allow for the expansion of potential sources currently unknown to NGA,” the agency said in a solicitation posted Monday to beta.SAM.gov.
As those efforts ramp up, the agency plans to contract with a trusted broker to act as an intermediary in the procurement process.
The big push for the GDP contract will be to acquire gravity data, which the agency applies to its Earth Gravitational Model “used in navigation products for the DOD and general use for industry and academia,” the solicitation states, though NGA is looking for other types of data, as well.
“In the past, these models and products were constructed using data that was given to NGA or provided through their gravity meter loan program,” according to the performance work statement. “Occasionally, NGA purchases off-the-shelf gravity data to supplement other data streams.”
In recent years, NGA has moved to purchase more commercial data to supplement its in-house collections. Those efforts were highlighted in the agency’s 2020 Tech Focus Areas report, which foreshadowed these investments in a number of areas.
“The desired data types include but not limited to: gravity data, magnetic data, seismic reflection data, soils data, hydrographic data, and well log data,” the solicitation states. “These types of data are useful in the modeling process and should be considered for purchase in addition to gravity data.”
The contractor chosen to serve as NGA’s intermediary will be in charge of “data brokering, including search and proposal of additional dataset and data virus scanning,” according to the performance work statement.
Specifically, the broker will be expected to:
- Assist NGA in developing relationships with geophysical and geologic data holders.
- Establish points of contact with vendors that sell geophysical and/or geologic data.
- Acquire an understanding of a prospective data seller’s data holdings and pricing structure.
- Scan purchased data with appropriate virus scan software.
While NGA officials do not “anticipate there being any issues with the validity of commercially available data,” they don’t want to take any chances. The broker will be expected to provide the agency with some sample data to test on, though the contractor will not be expected to do any validation work as part of the contract.
“The contractor shall provide a small but representative sample of each data set to NGA upon request,” the documents state. “NGA will perform a technical processing and evaluation of the sample to determine the suitability of the data prior to issuance of an order.”
The performance work statement also includes data formatting standards and other technical requirements.
The contract will run for a base period of two years, with three one-year add-on options.