DIU partnership leads to valuable contracts for Hanscom weather team

  • Published
  • By Jessica Casserly
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – A memorandum of agreement between the Digital Directorate’s Weather Systems Branch and the Defense Innovation Unit gives Hanscom personnel access to a unique, time-saving contracting process.

Through the MOA Weather Systems Branch personnel have the opportunity to use DIU’s Commercial Solutions Opening Process. Designed to solve difficult challenges through rapid technology acquisition, the CSO process leverages 10 U.S. Code 4022, the Authority of the Department of Defense to carry out certain prototype projects.

Lt. Col. Joshua Shimko, a Commercial Weather Data Pilot program manager, said DIU’s CSO process has two key features that make it an ideal option.

“It’s unique because their commercial solutions offering goes out to a wider and different pool of commercial companies than we had worked with using our previous process,” he said. “It’s also a 60-to-120-day solution, which was advantageous to us because it got us on contract faster.”

Nirav Nikunj Patel, a senior scientist and Remote Sensing program manager at DIU, said the process allows for maximum flexibility.

“Our CSOs are designed to rapidly field capabilities at the speed of commercial industry,” he said. “There are no funding or timing limits and we have the ability to accept Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation and Operation and Maintenance dollars, as well as the ability to negotiate data and intellectual property rights.”

In addition to use of their CSO process, the DIU contracting team also guided their counterparts in the Digital Directorate through the procedures, offering training and methods to help expedite the contracts.

“Nirav is assigned as the DIU program manager to this effort, and he pushed things along and is still involved,” Shimko said. “My team manages our active contracts, but Nirav and the DIU team are always there to support and remain involved in our communications with the contract awardees.” 

Patel explained that he also serves as the DIU technical lead to the five vendors in contract execution for the Weather Systems Branch, helping the vendors successfully complete milestones.

“I was fortunate to work with Lt. Col. Shimko's technical team,” he said. “We are very proud to have put all five vendors on contract within 122 days of the solicitation closing on our website.”

The vendors selected for the Weather System Branch’s five prototype contracts are providing real solutions for mission needs, including new atmospheric monitoring technologies.

“Our contract with Tomorrow.io involves a microwave radiometer sensing weather forecast platform,” Shimko said. “The vendor will provide three months of observational data, develop prototype numerical weather prediction data assimilation algorithms, and conduct observation system simulation experiments.”

Shimko said, if funding is available, his team will evaluate the options available for user needs, and he believes they will use the CSO process for other initiatives in the future.

“I would encourage people to look into DIU’s commercial solutions process,” he said. “It is efficient, fast and it can fit the needs of the warfighter.”

Patel confirmed that DIU is “eager” to help solve Air Force challenges that have commercial solutions.

For more information about DIU’s CSO process, contact Col. Aneel Alvares, director of Defense Engagement and the Air Force lead for DIU, at aalvares@diu.mil and Patel at npatel.ctr@diu.mil.