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A Message from the Director and Chief Executive Officer

Radio operators use the expression five by five to indicate that signal strength and quality are loud and clear. Organizations send signals as well, in the form of direct requests, implied needs, or even yet-unrecognized issues. The SEI listens and probes intently to learn our sponsor’s needs, so that our work provides a path to solving critical artificial intelligence (AI), software engineering, and cybersecurity issues.

In 2020, through the global COVID-19 pandemic, the SEI persisted in our mission to advance software as a strategic advantage for national security. We delivered excellence to our work sponsors by adapting ways to share our expertise and by safely meeting at our customers’ sites, when in-person meetings were the best way to accomplish their aims.



In 2020, through the global COVID-19 pandemic, the SEI persisted in our mission to advance software as a strategic advantage for national security.

Paul Nielsen

In this SEI Year in Review, you’ll read of some prominent 2020 results that express our loud and clear response:

  • With funding and support by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the SEI is fostering a community to develop a discipline for AI engineering, to assure that AI-enabled systems are scalable, robust and secure, and human-centered.
  • Having been at the forefront of software engineering technologies and practices for decades, we have launched an effort to build and lead a community that will form a national agenda to architect the future of software engineering and articulate a research roadmap.
  • Continuing to bring together government and industry, we introduced the CERT/CC Vulnerability Information and Coordination Environment (VINCE) to increase the level of direct collaboration between vulnerability reporters, coordinators, and software vendors.

We are also loud and clear in our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) in our workforce and our workplace. We established an office to coordinate and advance our efforts to be a workplace where all employees have the opportunity to do their best work; be assured of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement; and know how what they do matters to our organization and beyond.

For our people and sponsors, we show that we receive their messages five by five and that our response is loud and clear.

Paul Nielsen

Execution Strategy

The SEI facilitates the transfer of research results to practice in Department of Defense (DoD) programs, the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s science and technology initiatives, and non-DoD U.S. government organizations where improvements will also benefit the DoD. In doing so, we gain deeper insight into mission needs, insight that forms the basis for new research. In addition, we transition matured technologies more broadly to Defense Industrial Base organizations and others in the DoD software supply chain.


Through ongoing research and development and communication with customers, the SEI identifies priority areas for further research and development. Through our study approach, we generate academic and theoretical reports, presentations, and books on gaps or issues in those areas. We make software tools, processes, datasets, analytic approaches, and training materials to mitigate those gaps or issues. We combine our body of knowledge with external material and systems engineering to deliver, through transition and transfer activities, quantitative impact to a U.S. government organization, DoD organization, or DoD end user.