VADM Robert Sharp, NGA Director, Named to 2020 Wash100 for Developing NGA’s Strategic Initiatives for Emerging Technologies

Robert Sharp
Robert Sharp

Executive Mosaic is honored to present Vice. Adm. Robert Sharp, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, as an inductee into the 2020 edition of the Wash100 Award for his efforts to advance NGA’s strategic goals surrounding its recruitment process, information technology initiatives and emerging technologies.

This marks Sharp’s second consecutive Wash100 Award. Sharp dramatically improved the agency’s capabilities in emerging technologies including artificial intelligence to reduce analysis time in 2018, which earned him his first Wash100 Award. He also launched a recruitment plan, targeting Silicon Valley’s best technical talent as part of the data-enabled workforce strategy.

Sharp’s efforts have continued to advance emerging technologies, develop new AI and IT projects and integrate his initiatives into the infrastructure of NGA in 2019. Most notably, Sharp introduced the four strategic goals of NGA’s 2025 Strategy, which focused on people, partnerships, mission today and mission tomorrow.

Sharp stated that NGA will concentrate on creating a team environment and utilizing properly resourced employees for them to contribute, grow and succeed at the agency. He also discussed the importance of leveraging a broad range of perspectives and talents to create a progressive mindset to complete NGA’s goals.

The NGA will additionally utilize partnerships to provide competitive advantage over the strategic competitors. Sharp’s goal is to continue to strengthen and expand alliances and partnerships across the full spectrum of GEOINT missions. He will focus on data interoperability by integrating partner technologies to share expertise, technologies, training, ideas and missions.

For Mission Today, NGA will focus on developing and improving technical processes. Sharp referenced the Enterprise Engine as an example during his keynote speech at GEOINT 2019. Sharp has helped automate a 150-­year old process to ingest source data in 14 languages from 75 countries. The development will improve the speed and quality of maritime intelligence.

The automation has transformed the technology to use translation algorithms and optical character recognition to read documents in different formats, which puts maritime symbols, numbers and words into a geospatial intelligence environment.

Sharp has also outlined a plan to achieve Mission Tomorrow. NGA’s goal is to partner with machines to allow analysts to think critically and solve problems.

“Our goal is to partner with machines so that we can make best use of the exponential growth in volume and source of data, letting machines do what machines do well and analysts do what analysts to even better, think critically and solve problems,” Sharp added.

Sharp advocated that human-machine partnerships are the future of NGA back in June 2019. The partnerships will use machines to take over rote tasks and give employees the freedom to work on more complex and creative issues.

Additionally, he emphasized that commercial companies need to focus on automation, augmentation and AI moving forward. He asked interested stakeholders to partner with NGA on projects related to those three technologies.

Most of the innovation in geospatial intelligence centers around automation with a focus on AI algorithms. The NGA will analyze imagery and combine that data with other sources of intelligence.

Sharp has forged closer ties with the technology industry and universities that are advancing AI. Sharp has also addressed the agency’s need to modernize its IT and ground-based infrastructure to improve its ability to predict events.

“NGA needs to mitigate the element of surprise by improving its ability to understand the world and anticipate future events,” he said. “We’re committed to modernizing our IT infrastructure, collection services, networks, training and business practices. We’ve got to keep up with the deluge of data,” said Sharp.

As part of that initiative, NGA awarded Perspecta with a potential five-year, $824M indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to assist in the transition from its legacy systems to a brand new architecture, including big data, cloud services, automation and artificial intelligence in July.

Executive Mosaic congratulates NGA and VADM Robert Sharp on his 2020 Wash100 Award selection. His commitment to the advancement of NGA’s strategy and emerging technology will be integral to the GovCon sector throughout 2020.

About The Wash100

The Wash100 award, now in its seventh year, recognizes the most influential executives in the GovCon industry as selected by the Executive Mosaic team in tandem with online nominations from the GovCon community. Representing the best of the private and public sector, the winners demonstrate superior leadership, innovation, reliability, achievement and vision.

Visit the Wash100 site to learn about the other 99 winners of the 2020 Wash100 Award. On the site, you can submit your 10 votes for the GovCon executives of consequence that you believe will have the most significant impact in 2020.

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