Long term licencing deals are off, CIA tells vendors
In none-too-friendly terms the CIA told software vendors that they will radically change the way they do business with them.
Speaking at a conference on emerging technologies in Washington D.C., the CIA’s technology decision-maker Gus Hunt said the CIA would break away from long term licensing agreements and only pay for what is useful to them.
“Don’t kid yourself that we can’t do this thing because we can,” he said. “We’re not out there trying to screw you,” Hunt told representatives of the many vendors present. But, “you really need to think differently about how we do these things,” he said.
The agency is looking for flexibility and the freedom to access the latest software as it becomes available, while at the same time getting a better deal on cost.
Currently, the CIA signs up to all of a vendor’s product via enterprise licensing agreements with companies such as SAP, HP and Oracle. Once committed to them, the CIA cannot take advantage of innovations, at a time when technology develops as rapidly as the agency’s demanding role in world affairs.
Earlier in the day the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research, Reginald Brothers, told the conference that existing software tools for data analysis, management and interaction were unable to digest the vast amounts of information that drones and other high-tech U.S. military sensors were collecting. The current model is not fast enough or powerful enough to satisfy users working under mission timelines.
It’s unknown what the CIA’s software expenditure is, but the announcement is likely to have vendors jostling to unsettle the CIA’s traditional suppliers, even if the agency is only offering a noncommittal pick-and-choose arrangement.
Hunt gave assurances that the CIA were seeking strong partnerships and would be willing to give suppliers “a peek under the covers” to check on whether it was fairly accounting for proprietary software used under any pay-as-you-go deal.