NIMA plans massive outsourcing project

The Defense Department's National Imagery and Mapping Agency plans to pump

at least $850 million into a massive outsourcing initiative, according to

the agency's top officer.

NIMA director Army Lt. Gen. James King said the agency has outlined for

Congress a plan for future battlefield visualization programs that includes

an estimated $1 billion in requirements, 85 percent of which will be attained

through outsourced contracts with private firms.

The move is part of a fundamental change in the way NIMA does business,

according to King, who spoke Monday at the second annual Symposium on Information

Assurance and Battlefield Visualization, sponsored by the Association of

the U.S. Army and the Association of Old Crows.

"NIMA wants to be an information provider," King said. "It's more than just

a map. [It's] being able to digitize the Earth's natural and man-made features."

NIMA, which provides digital maps and imagery support to the military and

intelligence community, grew out of the merger between the Defense Mapping

Agency, the Central Imagery Office, the National Photographic Interpretation

Center and the imagery support offices within the CIA, the Defense Intelligence

Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office. Since its inception in 1996,

NIMA has increased outsourcing by 106 percent, according to King. "Progress

is here," he said. "This isn't a snivel drill."

Most of the upcoming outsourcing contracts will deal with production of

the agency's Digital Terrain Elevation Data modeling products, King said.

DTED is a uniform data standard used in the production of maps and imagery.

NIMA most recently produced a 3-D "fly through" of Albania for mission rehearsal

and planning prior to the military deploying to Kosovo as part of the international

peacekeeping mission.

The agency also has started development with the CIA on a prototype 3-D

urban dataset that promises a fully functional, 3-D, real-time, interactive

virtual urban environment database that the military would use in mission

planning and rehearsal.

"The databases matter," King said. "NIMA is moving out of hard-copy production."

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