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CHIPS Articles: NIWC Atlantic Broadens Communications and Networking Opportunities with Industry via Technical Exchanges

NIWC Atlantic Broadens Communications and Networking Opportunities with Industry via Technical Exchanges
By Diane Owens, Naval Information Warfare Center Atlantic - January 28, 2020
Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic held a Technical Exchange Jan. 8 in Charleston, South Carolina as part of a strategy to broaden communications and expand networking opportunities with industry.

The exchange concentrated on DevOps, one of NIWC Atlantic’s primary focus areas, and featured three panel discussions of industry subject matter experts (SMEs) moderated by a government SME.

DevOps is a workplace culture in which quality assurance and security employees become tightly integrated with developers and operations personnel through the entire development lifecycle, which enables release of cybersafe, reliable software faster.

NIWC Atlantic makes it a priority to create forums and host events to foster transparent two-way communications and networking opportunities between government employees and private industry. Over the past three years, a series of technical exchanges has provided a new avenue to benefit individuals in both sectors.

NIWC Atlantic Software Engineering Competency Senior Manager Kathryn Murphy opened the session by referencing the fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act that encouraged federal government agency personnel to engage in responsible and constructive exchanges with industry workforce members, as long as the exchanges are consistent with law and do not promote an unfair competitive advantage to particular firms.

She also mentioned the April 2019 Office of Management and Budget memo that directed government personnel to strengthen engagement with industry partners through innovative business practices.

“In response to the 2016 directive, our former executive director Christopher Miller strongly encouraged NIWC Atlantic’s leaders to implement technical networking and collaboration opportunities like today’s event to add to robust contracting interchanges with industry,” Murphy said. “Our goal is to build on each other’s innovations and rapidly changing capabilities, so everyone doesn’t have to start from ground zero. Your role as participants is to listen, contribute and learn.”

More than 200 government and industry technical personnel attended the event as panelists shared information about capabilities in the areas of continuous configuration automation tools, application security testing and software test automation to meet government needs. Questions and comments from audience members added depth to the conversation.

Afterward, participants networked and met privately with panelists in breakout rooms to ask questions and exchange ideas without disclosing proprietary information.

Technical exchanges constantly evolve based on feedback from participants. Previous events featured panels of government SMEs, participation by officials from several military branches and included discussion of specific military needs of major sponsors.

“These events are valuable for the military, for small businesses and for the warfighter,” Murphy said. “We try to meet everyone’s needs.”

Although technical exchange events are not associated with specific procurements, ideas generated at these forums can be applied to NIWC Atlantic’s nontraditional acquisition vehicles, such as the Information Warfare Research Project (IWRP), to solicit prototype requests. Information discussed can also shape future solicitations.

NIWC Atlantic Small Business Deputy Director Robin Rourk noted that tech exchanges benefit government personnel by enlightening them about defense contractor capabilities, and how they can aid private industry by creating opportunities to network and brainstorm to discuss technical needs and challenges.

“Both groups gain valuable technical knowledge and benefit from interactions,” said Rourk.

NIWC Atlantic has held seven technical exchanges at its Charleston headquarters and at major East Coast sites in New Orleans, Louisiana and Norfolk, Virginia. Invitations to attend are advertised online in industry websites such as NAVWAR eCommerce, (formerly known as Federal Business Opportunities) and LinkedIn.

In addition to these events, other government/industry networking and education activities include more than 50 quarterly Small Business Industry Outreach Initiative events sponsored by the Charleston Defense Contractors Association, regular Contract Industry Council meetings, participation in East and West Coast defense contractor symposiums, IWRP Industry Days and Palmetto Tech Bridge events.

As a part of Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, NIWC Atlantic provides systems engineering and acquisition to deliver information warfare capabilities to the naval, joint and national warfighter through the acquisition, development, integration, production, test, deployment, and sustainment of interoperable command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, cyber and information technology capabilities.

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Charleston, S.C. (January 08, 2020) Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic engineer Terry Gantenbein moderates a question-and-answer session about software test automation at the Jan. 8 DevOps Technical Exchange held at Trident Technical College in North Charleston. NIWC Atlantic hosts technical exchanges as part of a strategy to broaden communications and expand networking opportunities with industry. (U.S. Navy photo by Diane Owens/Released)
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