Fiscal 2025 budget docs reveal how Project Maven is still evolving

“This funding is assigned to support algorithm development, data preparation, and integration experimentation to create joint DOD and [Intelligence Community] capabilities,” officials wrote.
(Getty Images)

New fiscal 2025 budget justification documents reflect the ongoing maturation of the Pentagon’s Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office — and in particular, its algorithmic warfare directorate and the secretive computer vision effort formerly known as Project Maven that its predecessors originally developed.

“Beginning in FY 2025, Program Element funding was realigned under four new project codes to correctly align PE funding in support of [CDAO] priorities,” the materials state. 

Although the office’s overarching goals have not changed, this shift essentially means that all prior year CDAO funding project codes will not continue after fiscal 2024. It marks a move to refocus funding mechanisms and “provide traceability to the current priorities of the CDAO,” according to the documents.

The data and AI hub’s new project codes and associated fiscal 2025 requested base amounts are as follows:

  • PE 0604122D8Z JADC2 Development and Experimentation Activities — $223 million 
  • PE 0604123D8Z CDAO Demonstration and Validation Activities — $372 million 
  • PE 0604133D8Z Alpha-1 Development Activities — $54 million
  • PE 0606135D8Z CDAO Activities — $9 million

The CDAO was formed in late 2021, when four legacy Pentagon teams — the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), Defense Digital Service (DDS), Office of the Chief Data Officer, and the Advana program — were restructured and combined into one hub to better coordinate and accelerate AI adoption.  

The JAIC was the main mechanism that helped steer the making and implementation of the pioneering Defense Department AI initiative previously dubbed Project Maven

With roots tracing back to early 2017, that initiative was designed to enable the military to apply computer vision — or capabilities that autonomously detect, tag and track objects or humans of interest from still images or videos captured by surveillance aircraft, satellites and other means.

In 2022, Project Maven evolved into Maven via the kickoff of a major — and still ongoing — transition that was initially billed as splitting the responsibilities for some of its elements between the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the CDAO, while sending its oversight to the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security.


However, officials from each of those entities have been largely hush-hush about pretty much all information regarding Maven and how it’s envisioned to operate since then and moving forward.

Notably, fiscal 2025 budget documents for the CDAO reveal that Maven-associated funding is now realigned under a new AI/ML Scaffolding-related project code under “PE 0606135D8Z CDAO Activities.”

“This funding is assigned to support algorithm development, data preparation, and integration experimentation to create joint DOD and [Intelligence Community] capabilities,” officials wrote.

In response to questions from DefenseScoop on Wednesday, Deputy CDAO Margie Palmieri explained that in the president’s budget request for fiscal 2024, Maven tasks existed under a different code that is “no longer under CDAO in [fiscal 2025] as we are transferring them to other organizations with direct equity to guide further development.”

She also confirmed that the CDAO has passed the entire Maven “AI development pipeline” over to NGA.


“Computer vision is one of the most advanced areas where you can deliver AI, and for them to have that entire computer vision pipeline made a lot of sense. But the concept of that pipeline is also important to the Department of Defense in terms of how we develop our AI capabilities. So the algorithmic warfare division [and CDAO leadership] are thinking through — how do we make sure that the right scaffold is in place?” Palmieri said. 

“Project Maven created one of the first AI/ML development pipelines within the DOD and enables Maven to deliver, test, and deploy models rapidly. This pipeline was designed to support Project Maven’s use cases and their unique requirements. We are incorporating many of the lessons, capabilities, and tools pioneered by Project Maven into the larger enterprise offering CDAO is building under AI/ML Scaffolding,” she added.  

As a key component of the Intelligence Community, the NGA’s budget is classified.

“NGA has lead on the GEOINT lines of effort for Maven, which is roughly 80% of the original program,” a spokesperson told DefenseScoop on Tuesday.

The agency received the GEOINT portions of Maven from the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security — not the CDAO.


“The AI pipeline we inherited is a full-stack, end to end AI development capability at scale, which includes data labeling, data management, infrastructure, test and evaluation, repositories, and a platform to run the model. We’re continuing the work started at OUSD(I&S) with NGA Maven and are integrating our GEOINT capabilities into the platform and delivering custom-tailored, AI-enabled solutions to end users across the globe,” the spokesperson told DefenseScoop.

“But we still can’t really discuss budget details, current or future,” they added.

Brandi Vincent

Written by Brandi Vincent

Brandi Vincent is DefenseScoop's Pentagon correspondent. She reports on emerging and disruptive technologies, and associated policies, impacting the Defense Department and its personnel. Prior to joining Scoop News Group, Brandi produced a long-form documentary and worked as a journalist at Nextgov, Snapchat and NBC Network. She was named a 2021 Paul Miller Washington Fellow by the National Press Foundation and was awarded SIIA’s 2020 Jesse H. Neal Award for Best News Coverage. Brandi grew up in Louisiana and received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.

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