Pentagon sets up fast track for buying cyber war tools

Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:47pm EDT
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By David Alexander

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon is establishing a fast-track acquisition process that would enable it to develop new cyber warfare capabilities within days or months if urgently needed, the Defense Department said in a report to Congress.

The process, which would be overseen by a new senior-level Cyber Investment Management Board, aims to streamline the sluggish traditional defense acquisition process to meet the rapid pace of events in cyberspace, the 16-page report said.

Congress, in defense legislation enacted last year, directed the Pentagon to develop a strategy that would enable it to speedily acquire cyber warfare tools, applications and other capabilities. The Pentagon sent a report to Congress late last month outlining the strategy.

The report, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters on Thursday, said the Pentagon's acquisition process for cyber warfare capabilities will be divided into two paths - one rapid and one deliberate - that would be used depending on urgency.

"The framework allows for alternative acquisition processes to be tailored to the complexity, cost, urgency of need and fielding timeline associated with developing the cyber warfare capability being developed," the report said.

"Programs with higher risk and longer fielding times, and therefore greater cost and complexity, will be managed with greater oversight and more centralized approvals," it said.

Under the process, cyber needs could be identified and put forward by many different organizations within the department.

U.S. Cyber Command, the combatant command set up nearly two years ago to defend military networks and carry out offensive cyber operations if ordered, would validate the needs. Teams at Cyber Command would decide which acquisition track to follow.   Continued...

A United States Marine stands by his post in front of the Pentagon in Washington February 29, 2012. REUTERS/Gary Cameron