The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ("DARPA" or "the Agency") Strategic Technology Office issued a Broad Area Announcement ("BAA") on August 25, 2010 to address the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive national security information from inside the Department of Defense. The DARPA BAA requests "novel approaches to insider threat detection that greatly increase the accuracy, rate and speed of detection and that impede the ability of adversaries to operate within government and military interest networks." Specifically, DARPA is soliciting abstracts and proposals for the Phase I of its Cyber Insider Threat program ("CINDER"), which is premised on the assumption that malicious actors have gained access to institutions central or close to U.S. national security, but that through carefully-planned surveillance of the associated communications systems and networks, it is possible to detect and extinguish these threats. Respondents are "strongly encouraged, but not required" to submit abstracts in advance of their formal proposals. Abstracts are due September 17, 2010 by 4 p.m. EST and proposals are due on October 22 by 4 p.m. EST.
Phase I of CINDER is meant to "establish a fundamental understanding of various adversary missions and observables as well as the techniques and approaches to identify them as part of an insider threat." Recognizing that applying broad detection methods and processes could generate excessive false positives, the BAA references the "tells" in poker and suggests that successful respondents to the Agency's request will develop multi-dimensional surveillance systems that hone in on the truly malevolent, as opposed to the careless and the blunderers. Phase II will use information from Phase I to develop a test system that can detect insider threats while Phase III will demonstrate that the system can be implemented in a real world environment. A subsequent BAA will be issued for Phase II and Phase III and participation in Phase I is not a prerequisite for submitting a proposal in the later phases.
Respondents to the CINDER BAA should be aware of the following key aspects of DARPA's acquisition strategy. First, DARPA may make multiple awards in order to take advantage of a variety of solutions to the question posed in Phase I of the BAA. The BAA also contemplates the respondent proposing either a procurement contract or Other Transactions for Prototyping pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 2371. (e.g., transactions for federally funded research and development, other than contracts, grants or cooperative agreements, that may not be subject to certain federal procurement regulations such as the accounting regulations) to perform Phase I. The BAA further notes that the amount available for awards will depend "on the quality of the proposals received and the availability of funds." According to the BAA, respondents may submit proposals up until the closing date of August 25, 2011, but the likelihood of receiving funding is greatly reduced for proposals received after the initial closing date of October 22, 2010. The full BAA may be viewed at www.darpa.mil/sto/solicitations/baa10-84/index.html.