The Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) awarded the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) $9.7 million to fund innovative technologies in support of American warfighters, DISA said July 25.

The funding will go into the DISA Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) program, a research and development project and process designed to support critical defense acquisition programs, DISA said. The RIF team reports to DISA’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and works with the DoD Chief Information Office (CIO) and its Cyber Directorate.

The agency assigns cybersecurity topics to DISA RIF after they are reviewed to see which best fit into the program.

“The team works with OSD Office of Small Business Programs to acquire funding for small businesses for innovative projects specifically in cyber security,” Erin Maultsby, a CTO electronics engineer and the DISA RIF coordinator and portfolio manager, said in a statement.

“RIF is about getting small business capabilities faster into the hands of those who need them,” Maultsby added.

The cybersecurity proposals receive priority for awards to small businesses, projects generally should be completed within two years, able to transition and be supported from within DISA, and be funded within the maximum allowance DISA could get from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) of $3 million.

“We’re looking to solve problems. [The technology we select] has to be a mature prototype.  The goal is that at the end of two years it will be something that is ready to be operationalized,” Maultsby said.

DISA RIF previous secured over $9.7 million in funds from the OSD OSBP since FY ’13 and the RIF is requesting an additional $9 million for three FY 2016 programs.

Dan Cundiff, overall coordinator for the DoD RIF program, highlighted that DISA’s investments in cybersecurity, networking technologies, and computing and storage technologies make it especially suited to access the “best in class” from the U.S. market in the defense and private sector.

“DISA is uniquely postured to take advantage of commercial information system technologies and make those capabilities available and accessible to multiple defense customers.”

DISA topics that would be in the FY ’16 topics include Transport Layer Security (TLS) Inspection; Cyber Intelligence as a Service; and Credential Misuse Detection. DISA RIF proposed to send out those topics with the OSD OSBP Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for 2016. However, the topics developed within DISA and not the only ones in the BAA because the Army, Navy, Air Force, and combatant commands also have their own RIF programs, DISA said.

“The FY ’17 RIF initiatives will be structured so that DoD CIO/DISA can focus on several topics of interest to the Services such as better situational awareness, asset visibility, cross domain solutions, and evolving the topic of two factor authentication and network access,” John Mills, DoD CIO Cybersecurity Division chief, said in a challenge for DISA RIF to expand its partner base in FY ’17. Mills also wants the team to increase the number of awards from three to five.

The DoD RIF program was first established by the FY ’11 National Defense Authorization Act as a merit-based program to stimulate innovative technologies as well as to reduce costs, address technical risks, improve project timeliness, and rapidly insert products directly in support of major defense acquisition programs.