WASHINGTON — The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency plans to double spending on contracts to monitor global economic activity from space, the agency said in a Nov. 15 notification.

NGA said it will increase the contract ceiling for its Economic Indicator Monitoring (EIM) program from $29.9 million to $60 million over five years.  

The program seeks to use commercial geospatial data and analytics services to improve the U.S. government’s insights on economic activity and trends around the world, such as the flow of raw materials, agricultural products, fuels and vehicles.

“Understanding economic activity and trends around the world is critically important to our policymakers,” Dave Gauthier, director of commercial business operations at NGA, said last year when the  EIM program was rolled out.

NGA in 2021 selected five vendors to compete for awards: BAE Systems, Ball Aerospace, BlackSky, Continental Mapping Consultants and Royce Geospatial Consultants. BlackSky has won the majority of the awards, with $13.8 million in orders to date, the company said.

No new vendors will be selected for the larger EIM program, said NGA. “The present EIM vendor pool has proven to be a vibrant and diverse pool of vendors that are capable and competitive at producing CV [object] detections from imagery and analytic services at a cost and accuracy that meets government requirements,” the notification said.

The additional funds for EIM are expected to be appropriated in the 2023 defense budget. 

“Given the timing of likely congressional increases to the FY23 budget again for commercial GEOINT and the EIM program support to the ongoing Ukrainian crisis, it is prudent to leverage NGA’s current EIM vendor pool to continue to provide world-class geospatial-intelligence and lead the global GEOINT enterprise,” said NGA.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...