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DCO Welcomes Pat Ocasio, Bids Farewell to Jen Potts

By Brittney M. Brown, Defensive Cyber Operations

Pat Ocasio has an impressive track record. In 1997, she joined Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS) as a product support contractor for the Transportation Information Systems program. Now, she’s an award-winning civilian and the new Deputy Project Manager (DPM) for Defensive Cyber Operations (DCO).

“I am sincerely excited about coming to DCO and having the opportunity to take on new challenges in support of such an essential mission,” said Ocasio. “I look forward to getting to know the staff and understanding where I can best support the needs of the organization.”

Ocasio joins DCO after serving as DPM of Integrated Personnel and Pay System – Army (IPPS-A). She holds a bachelor’s degree in business management, as well as several program management certifications. In 2017, Ocasio received the John W. Macy, Jr. Award for demonstrated excellence in the leadership of civilian workforce.

Pat Ocasio
Pat Ocasio, Deputy Project Manager for Defensive Cyber Operations. (U.S. Army photo)

“Pat Ocasio joining the DCO team is definitely good fortune,” said Col. Harris, DCO project manager. “She’s a proven deputy who brings with her a wealth of knowledge and talent, and will without a doubt add value to DCO’s growing team.”

Ocasio’s new position was previously held by Jennifer Potts. Potts joined DCO in March 2018 and supported the program as both Acting DPM and Product Support Director. She holds a bachelor’s degree in professional aeronautics and a dual master’s degree in aeronautical science and business administration, with a minor in technical management.

As an Army civilian for 20 years, Potts has a strong background in Army Aviation and Army Acquisition. Before DCO, she served as Deputy Product Director in PEO Aviation, where she supported full-spectrum program management for a portfolio valued in excess of $1.5 billion. Her next assignment will be as DPM for Army Enterprise Systems Integration Program (AESIP).

Jennifer Potts
Jennifer Potts, Deputy Project Manager for Army Enterprise Systems Integration Program. (U.S. Army photo)

“Over the last year, Ms. Potts has contributed greatly to the success of DCO,” said Harris. “She possess a high degree of professionalism and has an infectious positive attitude that will be missed by every member of the DCO team. AESIP is gaining a terrific asset.”

“We’re changing the way we partner with industry,” said Col. Chad Harris, DCO project manager. “We’ve created a space that allows for true collaboration and an avenue to seek solutions from a variety of cyber experts.”

According to Potts, the transition from DCO to AESIP is bittersweet, but an exciting opportunity nonetheless.

Potts DCO Farewell
Col. Chad Harris, project manager (PM) for Defensive Cyber Operations, presents a gift to outgoing deputy PM, Jennifer Potts. (U.S. Army photo by Brittney Brown)

“I’m thrilled to support the AESIP mission,” said Potts. “I’m humbled by the trust and confidence placed in me to continue to aid in the growth of the incredible PEO EIS workforce. People are our greatest assets. The opportunity to invest in others is my favorite part of what we do.”

Ocasio and Potts both assumed their respective roles on June 24, 2019.

Posted June 26, 2019

Q&A with DCO’s Lt. Col. Scott Helmore

By Brittney Brown, Defensive Cyber Operations

There’s been plenty of action within Defensive Cyber Operations (DCO). Within the past year, it established three new organizations (two product managers and one division), implemented the use of Other Transaction Authority (OTA) and opened a new cyber innovation center called “the Forge.”

Through the Forge, DCO is executing a variety of methods to procure and deliver defensive cyber prototypes. The Coliseum, Labyrinth, Constellations and the Forge Storm are among the methods being utilized. Lt. Col. Scott Helmore, product manager (PdM) for Cyber Platforms and Systems (CPS), gives insight on the naming conventions and how they build mutually beneficial relationships between DCO and industry partners.

Q: DCO is utilizing the Cyber Operations Broad Responsive Agreement, or COBRA for short, as the OTA to procure defensive cyber prototypes. What is COBRA?

A: COBRA is the name of DCO’s OTA. An OTA in general is a means by which we acquire prototypes. It allows us to go outside the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) for a “try before you buy” procurement. The method gives us the flexibility we need to ensure a capability can actually meet the requirements of Soldiers before we purchase them through an official FAR contract.

Q: How does COBRA differ from other OTAs?

A: First, COBRA is unique because it specifically focuses on cyber. Other OTAs may focus on communications, but there are none really dedicated to defensive cyber. COBRA is also unique because we award agreements through the use of a centralized, physical location called the Forge. Within the Forge, we bring together all of the entities that make OTA execution and prototype development possible under one roof. The Forge has a contracting office, as well as the presence of our stakeholders like Army Cyber Command. No other OTA that I’m aware of has their customer or end-user co-located or involved in the process.

Another factor that sets COBRA apart is that we’re executing the OTA through a variety of execution methods, like the Forge Storm and the Coliseum.

Q: Speaking of the Forge Storm and the Coliseum, you were the mastermind behind the names, including Labyrinth and Constellations. What do the names mean in the context of DCO?

A: The naming conventions were done as a means for people to be able to associate concepts with the methods. Most have historical references, like in the case of the Roman Coliseum.

Everyone knows the Coliseum was a place for events where observers watched participants, and then voted on the winners. We’re applying the same concept, but in our case, the participants are industry and we solicit them to demonstrate their solutions to our teams of evaluators. Coliseums give us the ability to observe and vote on whether we want the technology from industry or not, and help us refine what we’re looking for. Coliseums are efficient because they’re hosted at existing industry events, such as the AFCEA Belvoir Industry Days, where industry is already present.

Q: How about the Labyrinth and Constellations methods?

A: Labyrinth is derived from Greek mythology and is basically just a maze. The Labyrinth method is all about problem solving. We present a problem to industry, bring them to the Forge, and conduct brainstorming sessions about how to solve those problems.

Constellations are groups of stars that create a picture. In DCO’s scenario, we’re putting groups of industry experts together to focus on a specific area of interest, like analytics, for example. The point is for those groups to come back to us with common ideas or solutions, and present a picture of what a capability should look like. When new participants are added to the constellation, they start as a small star and at some point in time, they grow into a brighter star of the constellation.

Q: The method called the Forge Storm is related to meteorology. What was the thought process behind the name?

A: Multiple elements go into a storm; a storm brings wind, it brings rain, and sometimes tornadoes all at the same time. With the Forge Storm, we’re going after different procurements and using multiple methodologies in the same environment. We’re basically inviting industry to the Forge for an in-house tradeshow with a “Shark Tank” twist on it.

Q: How does the Forge in combination with COBRA benefit industry?

A: There are a lot of opportunities for industry to capitalize on DCO’s new efforts. Within one Coliseum event alone, we looked at over 120 technologies from 63 companies and awarded 10 different COBRA agreements. That added up to $6.4 million in procurement dollars that went to industry in a very short amount of time.

Our first Forge Storm event brought out more than 200 people from 22 companies, who were able to directly discuss their products with end-users without a middle man.

Q: How can industry take advantage of the opportunities?

A: DCO posts announcements on several platforms, including, the PEO EIS website, industry organization websites and through the System of Systems Consortium. Our announcements include specific instructions on how to participate, as well as the various timelines.

Posted June 05, 2019