The Q Prize

Funny what you think of in what passes for a traffic jam in these parts . . .

Ruminating about John’s recent post about tinkering with technology¬† and the mention of the X-Prize and DARPA Grand Challenges . . .

. . . remembering the post from the other day about how the explosion of available information¬† has not only overcome the government’s ability to categorize, search and make sense of it, the force of the wave is pushing efforts backwards . . .

. . . we have the CIA’s DNI’s Galileo Awards but that’s for insiders (no small font of great but untapped ideas btw): where is the parallel opportunity for outsiders and “amateurs ?” Where is the “Q Prize” for dealing with the IC’s information and technology problems? (1)

Many of the problems the IC faces WRT technology and information are identical to the ones facing large,
bureaucratic, information-centric institutions outside of the secret
world. The solutions that are turning around firms in industry – or
propelling start-ups beyond their more established competition – can
work on the inside. Large-scale contracting firms are full of competent
and talented people but projects like Virtual Case
File, Trailblazer and others are more indicative of what happens when large private
institutions try to help large public ones.


There will of course be reluctance to expose even a sliver of the inner workings to outsiders, but there are ways to anonymize and genericize details of problems and systems so that anyone can get involved without risk of exposing real secrets.

There will also be resistance from the traditional solution providers. The Q-Prize approach upsets the old RFP game and could put big firms at a disadvantage. Don’t underestimate the power of the bandits (what does SAIC spell backwards?).

More, better solutions have been put together by two dudes in a garage (or the big iron equivalent thereof) than have come out of a cross-functional, multi-domain corporate tiger-team. Maybe it is time to give the hungry, little, nimble guys a chance.

(1) I started with “I(ntelligence) Prize” but that didn’t sound right. The inspiration for “Q” should be self evident but it isn’t ideal because Q worked in the system, not outside of it. I mean, of all the things you can stick on a watch these days and Bond is still carrying around that stainless steel wrist-laser. Come on . . .