AI building blocks (Immersion Imagery/

CIA looks to new partners for emerging tech

To get exposure to early-stage cutting edge technologies, the CIA is increasingly looking to the private sector, one of the agency's top tech officials told big data analytics vendors.

As advanced technology research and development shifts from government to industry and China boosts its commitment to tech research, the CIA is turning to new partners for emerging tech, the agency's Deputy Director for Science and Technology Dawn Meyerriecks said at the May 30 Intelligence Analytics Summit in Alexandria, Va.

"We don't do a lot of applied science. I have to find those people and team with them because we have to be ahead," she said.  "We have to find folks that are always operating in the margins of new businesses, because that's where we make our bread and butter as an agency."

The only way to find cutting edge technological capabilities ahead of its broad commercial adoption "is to work in those seams that no one thinks are lucrative, or interesting or possible," she said.

China's technological rise has added to the urgency of finding promising technologies that the CIA can use and hone, according to Meyerriecks. China is also about to take the lead from the U.S. in R&D investing. "China will out-invest us" on R&D soon, she said. "If you're concerned about U.S. national security, then you should be thinking about the problem."

Meyerriecks told the data analytics vendors at the conference that the CIA has many avenues to make contact with technologists, including through the intelligence community's In-Q-Tel technology investment operation.

The CIA and its vendors, she said, need to "change the conversation" about how the agency gets technology. Vendors, she said, could think about being freer with their intellectual property as technology is democratized -- adding that she had talked with a number of corporate CEOs about that prospect in the last few weeks.

The CIA, she said, can be both a cutting-edge "early adopter" as well as a "lead user" of emerging commercial technologies that can give companies a jump on development for commercial markets

"We are market indicators," she said, "because were we sit is in that gap that's slightly ahead of the commoditization of technology."

This article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


  • business meeting (Monkey Business Images/

    Civic tech volunteers help states with legacy systems

    As COVID-19 exposed vulnerabilities in state and local government IT systems, the newly formed U.S. Digital Response stepped in to help. Its successes offer insight into existing barriers and the future of the civic tech movement.

  • data analytics (

    More visible data helps drive DOD decision-making

    CDOs in the Defense Department are opening up their data to take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that help surface insights and improve decision-making.

Stay Connected