SAIC helps DoD tap commercial app developers for rapid development
Putting valuable tools into warfighters’ hands quickly is a persistent and uncompromising requirement in an evolving threat environment. With SAIC’s help, the Department of Defense (DoD) has received commercially developed mobile applications that aid warfighters’ missions in months instead of years.
SAIC began managing the Innovative GEOINT Application Provider Program (IGAPP) for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in 2015. IGAPP is a nontraditional government technology acquisition channel that benefits both warfighters and commercial app developers. IGAPP has brokered 93 applications downloaded from the GEOINT App Store (GAS) by more than 54,000 U.S. government and allied nation users.
This user community includes aviators, mariners, soldiers, and first responders who continuously receive new and updated apps from vendors using agile and modern development practices. Apps range from field manuals and weather trackers, to maps and geospatial imaging tools, to distress notifiers. NGA covers the cost of each download.
SAIC maintains relationships with the commercial app developers, the majority of which are small businesses that previously did not or were not able to serve the government market, and guides them through an accelerated contract process. SAIC also provides design and user feedback as well as functional and security testing.
Nearly 30 percent of these providers introduce products into GAS within 30 days, and 70 percent do so within 90 days. Developers earn 100 percent of proceeds, as there is no revenue sharing.
Bridging the gap
Working as a trusted NGA partner and a conduit for app developers, the SAIC IGAPP team:
- Eliminates lengthy government contract processes and other barriers for developers of any size and introduces them to a user base of hundreds of thousands.
- Removes time- and resource-intensive procurement or in-house development of apps, by working directly with the user community to capture capability needs and deliver them to developers.
- Works with developers to continuously iterate and update their apps based on requests from the user community, in contrast to traditional non-agile contract and development approaches.
- Performs testing to ensure that apps are free of security flaws and work as documented before they are delivered.
- Manages the prices of apps and payments to vendors.
“The IGAPP team identifies apps that meet user needs and works with their developers to offer them through the GEOINT App Store,” said Kevin May, IGAPP’s application broker services manager. “When an app doesn’t exist, we’ll source candidates that can develop it.”
Developers can register through the IGAPP Vendor Portal. After becoming an approved vendor, a developer can submit applications that address user needs in one of six mission areas: disaster response, air, sea, land, science, and DoD direct support. Vendors offering apps on GAS can also sell those apps on commercial platforms.
Solidifying the brand
NGA launched GAS in 2013 with DoD-developed apps. Recognizing the need to more quickly add apps to the store, SAIC refined the government’s vision of a commercial- and user-driven program.
SAIC has worked hand-in-hand with NGA on expanding IGAPP through the private sector. Our understanding of intelligence community and DoD missions has helped enlarge the IGAPP user base and the types of solutions we offer; in addition, we guide outside vendors that do not “speak” government or DoD.
From its grassroots beginnings as a technology pilot, the IGAPP program has evolved into a brand that is recognized by traditional and nontraditional vendors. SAIC makes new vendor connections daily.
“Our IGAPP effort plays a vastly meaningful part in the larger DoD mission,” May said.
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Continuing to expand
NGA has awarded SAIC the follow-on contract to IGAPP. It expands IGAPP's scale and scope, as SAIC will be responsible for identifying, pre-screening, price-negotiating, recommending, and delivering candidate apps and data content to NGA. The expanded scope of the follow-on will provide NGA with expedited access to nontraditional content providers and new, innovative application capabilities that leverage that content.
Additionally, SAIC will vet and clear the apps and data sets of any security vulnerabilities.
A GEOINT App Store user from the U.S. Air Force talks about his experience with IGAPP-produced apps.
Photo courtesy of DVIDs. The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.