Ed. note: In the last few months, new opportunities have emerged from the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, and private entities focused on countering foreign influence and disinformation. Here is a sample of those efforts, and IPA will continue to monitor new calls and solicitations as they emerge.
Department of Homeland Security, National Risk Management Center
The DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is seeking to procure professional service to identify emerging foreign influence narratives and predict likely impact for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
“The purpose of this task is to leverage a set of integrated capabilities that will be able to identify emerging foreign influence activities and then predict the likely impact of the emerging foreign influence activity. Additionally, the capability will be used to analyze historical foreign influence operations to better understand target audience, audience segment most likely to be impacted, and the likely response. We’d also like to be able to measure actual impact of the foreign influence activity to establish an accuracy baseline for the predictive model and then to be able to analyze the change in difference between predicted impact and actual impact as a possible way to measure the effectiveness of our communications and engagement activity. Finally, we will integrate all of this analysis into CISA’s communication and engagement activities to help shape messages, identify key audiences, prioritize engagement efforts, and determine most effective communication channels.”
Responses are due March 30, 2020, and additional information can be found at beta.sam.gov by searching for “70RCSA20RFI000008.”
U.S. Department of State DRL “Supporting Investigative Journalism in Africa” Competition
The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) has announced an open competition for awards up to $800K for projects that support investigative journalism in sub-Saharan Africa, especially on corruption and mis- and dis-information. Submissions are due April 10, and more details are available at https://www.state.gov/drl-fy19-supporting-investigative-journalism-in-africa/#.Xl2VeEHDnmU.twitter.
Facebook: Foundational Integrity Research: Misinformation and Polarization request for proposals
Facebook wants to give $2 million to fund research projects that explore “the societal issues of misinformation and polarization related to social communication technologies.” The deadline to submit a research proposal is Wednesday, May 6. Open to academic institutions and non-governmental organizations. Award amounts will range from $50K to $150K. Most projects will be between $50K to $100K, with up to five awards of $150K.
“In this request for proposals (RFP), Facebook is offering awards to researchers interested in exploring the societal issues of misinformation and polarization related to social communication technologies. We will provide a total of $2,000,000 in funding for research proposals that aim to enrich our understanding of challenges related to misinformation, polarization, information quality, and conflict on social media and social technology platforms. Our goal for these awards is to support the growth of the scientific community in these spaces and to contribute to a shared understanding across the broader industry on how social technology companies can better address social issues on their platforms. Research is not restricted to focusing on Facebook apps and technology.”
Priority research areas of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Health misinformation: For specific details on this area, see Additional Information: Understanding Health Misinformation on Social Media.
- Quantifying harms of misinformation
- Information processing of sensational, hateful, divisive, or provocative problematic content
- Affective polarization
- Dangerous speech, conflict, and violence
- Misinformation, multimedia, and formats
- News, trust, and information quality
- Cross-platform information ecosystem understanding
- Digital literacy, demographics, and misinformation
Combating Terrorism Technology Support Office (CTTSO) Annual BAA
CTTSO released its annual Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) on March 20. CTTSO identifies and develops capabilities to combat terrorism and irregular adversaries and to deliver these capabilities to DoD components and interagency partners through rapid research and development, advanced studies and technical innovation, and provision of support to U.S. military operations. CTTSO seeks solutions in the areas of advanced analytic capabilities; chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives (CBRNE); improvised device defeat/explosives countermeasures; investigative and forensic science; irregular warfare and evolving threats; personnel protection; physical security; surveillance, collection, and operations support; tactical operations support; and training technology development.
Topics of interest:
“R4506 Synthetic Text Detection
Synthetic text generation has emerged as a fundamental threat to information security, with significant applications for adversary disinformation and propaganda. With little effort and training, adversaries can develop genuine-looking synthetic text, such as synthetic news articles, at machine speed and scale. Given the difficulty for human readers to differentiate between genuine or synthetic text, the accelerating nature of technical development, and the ease with which current detection tools can be fooled through minimal editing (especially when compared to imagery and video manipulation), there is high potential for disinformation as synthetic text capabilities erode trust in information sources.
Synthetic text generation capabilities currently outpace synthetic text detection capabilities. Commercially available detectors are imperfect, able to be fooled, and useful only to experts. A more robust system needs to be developed for use by a wide range of non-technical experts: analysts, OSINT collectors, government public affairs officers, Foreign Service Officers, and others within the interagency who work to combat disinformation but are not technical specialists. The government requires development of a reliable synthetic text detection application, with flexibility for upgrades, which can support operational experimentation while also being open to modification based on user feedback. The government retains the right to pursue a single or multiple solutions, as needs dictate.”
“R4439 Forensic Internet of Things (F-IoT)
As the number and types of IoT devices continue to proliferate, federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal (FSLTT) law enforcement (LE) organizations require a capability to continually inform forensic examiners, investigators, and operators of devices of interest to identify and acquire as they execute their missions. Information forensically derived from these devices has the potential to be of significant value – from corroborating involvement in criminal or terrorist activities; identifying accomplices/associates; or just identifying new leads to pursue. This effort shall design and implement a capability that allows FSLTT LE organizations to submit, search, comment on, and rate forensic reports on IoT devices. The required capability shall be hosted on an existing U.S. Government information sharing platform that can limit access to vetted/validated FSLTT LE personnel. The capability shall provide LE users with a centralized repository to capture and share the forensic examination techniques used to exploit encountered devices and recognize the potential evidentiary value from the acquired data.”
“R4442 Evidence Disclosure Strategies in Investigative Interviews
Research and develop a comprehensive model and set of techniques that optimize the disclosure of evidence and information during investigative interviews to elicit the maximum amount of truthful information from the interviewee. This effort shall also include a validated training course to teach the model and techniques. The model and techniques shall be developed by using empirical evidence and available research literature on employing non-coercive, rapport-based, non-accusatorial interviewing techniques that have been demonstrated to be effective (e.g., the Strategic Use of Evidence, the Scharff technique). None of the tactics and procedures shall require the use of any equipment or hardware. New research shall also be conducted that refines, validates, and further develops the model and techniques.”
“R4445 Overcoming Resistance in Intelligence Interviews
Develop a comprehensive model of resistance employed by subjects during intelligence interviews and interrogations to include specific approaches for the interrogation/interview team to understand, identify, reduce, and overcome subject resistance. This effort shall also include a validated training course to teach the model of resistance and techniques to overcome resistance. The model and techniques shall be developed by using empirical evidence and available research literature on employing non-coercive, rapport-based, non-accusatorial interviewing techniques that have been demonstrated to be effective. None of the tactics and procedures shall require the use of any equipment or hardware. New research shall also be conducted that refines, validates, and further develops the model and techniques; and validates the developed training approach.”
Initial Phase 1 Quad Chart submissions are due April 20, 2020. More information about CTTSO’s focus areas and a link to the draft BAA are available at https://www.cttso.gov/.