What is CGA?
The Commercial GEOINT Activity (CGA) is a partnership between the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Borne of a collective vision of NGA and NRO leadership, CGA will position both agencies to take full advantage of legacy and emerging commercial GEOINT capabilities to satisfy mission needs and maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the overhead architecture.
Technology advances are spurring greater commoditization of imagery collection and analysis and reducing barriers to market entry, fueling worldwide demand for geospatial intelligence. This environment presents an unprecedented opportunity for the US government to capitalize on existing and emerging commercial GEOINT capabilities to further our national security mission.
CGA was established to:
- Assess which capabilities will best meet current and future mission needs
- Develop strategies to ensure timely, successful integration of new commercial capabilities across both agencies
- Balance customer demand, commercial market availability, and the IC’s unique collection and analysis needs
Simply put, CGA will leverage the ingenuity and creativity in the commercial GEOINT space to advance intelligence collection and analysis.
The CGA Leaderboard
The CGA Leaderboard is the tool for CGA’s preliminary assessment of commercial GEOINT offerings based on standardized input from industry. Assessments are based on products and services that have the potential to satisfy mission needs in three categories:
- Activity Characterization – The ability to identify, monitor, and determine specific types of activity or behaviors associated with a site of interest.
- Activity Discovery – The ability to detect new meaningful change in activity, ground disturbance, and/or other patterns.
- Mapping - The ability to produce standard GEOINT products for mapping, charting, and geodesy.
CGA is interested in existing capabilities or capabilities anticipated to be operational within the next 18 months. Companies wishing to submit capabilities for assessment may do so via the password-protected GEOINT Solutions Marketplace (GSM) portal. The GSM portal is owned and operated by OGSystems as a public forum for the broader GEOINT community. Companies using the GSM portal must comply with OGSystem’s Terms and Conditions of Use. Companies should not submit proprietary information to CGA through the GSM portal. Companies wishing to submit proprietary information should coordinate that submission with CGA directly. For more information, contact CGA at CGA@nga.mil. As participants in the forum, neither NGA nor NRO is responsible for operating, maintaining, or securing the site.
Once company data is submitted via GSM, a copy of the file is processed against a series of mission profiles and criteria related to performance, ease of integration into the GEOINT architecture, system resiliency, and business maturity by OGSystems within the GSM tool. OGSystems is performing this function as a voluntary service to GSM participants. Neither NGA nor NRO will control the data provided to OGSystems via to the GSM tool.
Companies can continue to access and update their information through their password-protected GSM profile. OGSystems has agreed to provide a second copy of each company’s information via application program interface to a secured NGA-owned server and database. Once NGA has received the information, CGA will use additional government-owned assessment tools to further assess it.
Based on assessment results, CGA may recommend a company for a demonstration, mission utility study, or further discussion. While individual results of assessments against a set of functional mission profiles should be available via GSM to the company being assessed within 24 hours, only authorized government representatives and authorized contractor support will have access to CGA’s comparative company assessment results. Every assessment conducted by CGA, and the resulting comparative data, will reside on a secure, firewall-protected NGA platform to protect the assessment findings.
CGA will undertake quarterly assessment updates, so companies are encouraged to submit inputs for consideration as their capabilities and offerings change.
Neither the participation of a company in the Leaderboard process, nor its scoring against a mission profile, constitutes an implied or direct indication of CGA’s, NGA’s, or NRO’s intent to award said company any future contract or commitment of funds.
The CGA Assessment Framework is designed to advance the use of existing and emerging commercial satellite imaging and data creation capabilities to satisfy the National System for Geospatial-Intelligence (NSG) community’s Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) mission needs and maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the government overhead architecture. The assessment framework standardizes the approach for assessing the utility and suitability of commercially-provided GEOINT to satisfy mission needs and augment the national GEOINT architecture.
The assessment framework provides the government with an initial screening of commercial offerings to assess their potential to satisfy NSG needs. Given the increasing number of commercial GEOINT providers, this semi-automated screening process was developed to be quick and non-intrusive on industry. Assessments are based on data provided by companies entered through a “product profile” of their commercial offerings. A product profile allows companies to provide information on their product or service through pre-set values in the data entry form. These product profiles can be entered by company representatives through the public facing “CGA Leaderboard,” within the OGSystems’ GSM or entered by government employees within CGA’s government-owned database, using information obtained from public sources or through contact with the firm.
Inputs are evaluated in the following areas:
- A Performance Fit to evaluate the sufficiency of a commercial solution’s attributes toward satisfying performance preferences of intelligence functions. These preferences are documented in “Functional Profiles”;
- A Risk Rank to identify the degree to which non-performance attributes may require further evaluation. Non-performance areas to be examined are included below:
- Counterintelligence (CI) concerns, based on Foreign Ownership, Control, and Influence;
- Ease of Integration into the GEOINT architecture, based on use of standard formats and interfaces, security practices, and infrastructure;
- Availability, based on the number of architecture nodes, redundancies, and data sources;
- Business maturity, based on where the commercial firm is in the business lifecycle.
An assessment score will include a performance fit for each relevant functional profile and a risk rank. Once scored, companies will receive feedback via an automated report on their relative match to functional profiles.
Performance Fit measures the value of commercial capabilities in the context of NSG needs. At a macro level, GEOINT needs are binned as Activity Characterization, Activity Discovery, and Mapping. Commercial offerings are also characterized by their product type; product types include imagery, derived data, structured data, and mapping products. The resulting organization of performance binning is shown in Figure 1. GEOINT needs are further defined by functional profiles within each bin. The functional profiles identify preferred performance attributes needed to perform a GEOINT mission. The preferred attributes measure a product offering’s sufficiency to satisfy the GEOINT mission and to evaluate and differentiate offerings from one another. Scoring against the preferred attributes is binary; i.e. a product gets full credit if its performance meets the preferred attribute and no credit if it does not. Within each functional profile, the preferred attributes are weighted based on the relative importance of that attribute to satisfy a particular GEOINT mission. The Performance Fit for each functional profile is calculated by generating a weighted sum of scores against each attribute in the functional profile, normalized by the maximum score possible.
The Risk Rank indicates the number of counterintelligence, integration, availability, and business maturity issues requiring further evaluation.
Assessment results are accessible only to authorized government and contractor personnel in the GEOINT Community of Practice. Possible assessment outcomes include:
- Potential request for vendor demonstration
- Potential validation activities as resources permit
Figure 1. Organization of Performance Binning
Approved for public release (NGA 17-432, NRO 2017-02065)