Toward Automated International Law Compliance Monitoring

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity often selects its research efforts through the Broad Agency Announcement process. This request for information is intended to provide information relevant to a possible future IARPA program, so that feedback from potential participants can be considered prior to the issuance of a BAA. Respondents are invited to provide comments on the content of this announcement to include suggestions for improving the scope of a possible solicitation to ensure that every effort is made to adequately address the scientific and technical challenges described below. Responses to this request may be used to support development of, and subsequently be incorporated within, a future IARPA Program BAA and therefore must be available for unrestricted public distribution. Neither proprietary nor classified concepts or information should be included in the responses. The following sections of this announcement contain details of the scope of technical efforts of interest, along with instructions for the submission of responses.

Background & Scope

This RFI seeks to determine the feasibility of significantly expanding current academic and industry efforts in automated legal text analysis and evidentiary reasoning. Compliance monitoring is the act of determining whether an entity's actions are consistent with the relevant constraints expressed in a collection of legal and regulatory documents. For example, determining whether a nation is compliant with international agreements regarding ocean fisheries to which it is a party may in part require comparing the catch limits articulated within international treaties and domestic regulations with the actual aggregate catch landed by vessels flagged to the nation in question. Assessing compliance on any single subject can require substantial resource and time investments. If compliance assessment is to be ongoing then these investments also must be sustained. The activities involved include: maintaining a deep understanding of the constraints represented by the dynamic overlapping set of multilingual agreements, laws and regulations, and assessing compliance using diverse imperfect data gathered from multiple sources.

Advances in several technical areas - including text analytics, natural language processing, evidentiary reasoning, rule discovery, knowledge discovery from large data sets, and machine learning - have the potential to make dramatic reductions in the resources and time needed to concurrently monitor compliance in multiple areas of interest.

Responses to this RFI should be as succinct as possible while providing specific information that addresses as many of the following questions as possible. Where available, please include citations in the published literature to supplement your responses.

  1. What are current approaches to the automation of monitoring compliance with international laws, national regulations, and policies? Are there analogous challenges for which automated solutions exist that might be applied here?
  2. Is the timing right to explore the automation of international law compliance monitoring? For example, is there a sufficient technology base that can be leveraged to accomplish these goals? Should only partial automation be considered?
  3. How would you propose to address the activities of automated compliance monitoring? How would you enter the multilingual textual materials that together provide the constraints? How would you extract and reason about the constraints? How would you ingest data and assess compliance? What roles do you anticipate that people will play?
  4. What are appropriate methods and metrics to measure performance of an automated compliance monitoring system? How would you test and monitor that such a system is working correctly? What performance goals will be acceptable to the stakeholders?
  5. Are you aware of a particular domain that could be used as a test case? This domain would require sufficient data availability so that analytic systems could be thoroughly exercised and tested. All such data should be publically available.

The responses to this RFI will be used to help in the planning of a 1.5-day workshop on automated international law compliance monitoring. An expected result of such a workshop is the identification of promising areas for investment through vehicles such as seedlings, grand challenges, and programs. It is anticipated that this workshop will be held in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area in May or June of 2012. A separate workshop announcement will be posted with further details.

Preparation Instructions to Respondents

IARPA solicits respondents to submit ideas related to this topic for use by the Government in formulating a potential program. IARPA requests that submittals briefly and clearly describe the potential approach or concept, outline critical technical issues, and comment on the expected performance, robustness, and estimated cost of the proposed approach. This announcement contains all of the information required to submit a response. No additional forms, kits, or other materials are needed.

IARPA appreciates responses from all capable and qualified sources from within and outside of the U.S. Responses have the following formatting requirements:

  1. A one page cover sheet that identifies the title, organization(s), respondent's technical and administrative points of contact - including names, addresses, phone and fax numbers, and email addresses of all co-authors, and clearly indicating its association with IARPA-RFI-12-02:
  2. A one-half page executive summary;
  3. A description (limited to 5 pages in minimum 12 point Times New Roman font, appropriate for single-sided, single-spaced 8.5 by 11 inch paper, with 1-inch margins) of the technical challenges and suggested approach(es);
  4. A list of citations (any significant claims or reports of success must be accompanied by citations, and reference material MUST be attached);
  5. Optionally, a single overview briefing chart graphically depicting the key ideas.

Disclaimers and Important Notes

This is an RFI issued solely for information and new investment planning purposes and does not constitute a solicitation. Respondents are advised that IARPA is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information received, or provide feedback to respondents with respect to any information submitted under this RFI.

Responses to this notice are not offers and cannot be accepted by the Government to form a binding contract. Respondents are solely responsible for all expenses associated with responding to this RFI. It is the respondents' responsibility to ensure that the submitted material has been approved for public release by the organization that funded whatever research is referred to in the response.

The Government does not intend to award a contract on the basis of this RFI or to otherwise pay for the information solicited, nor is the Government obligated to issue a solicitation based on responses received. Neither proprietary nor classified concepts or information should be included in the submittal. Input on technical aspects of the responses may be solicited by IARPA from non-Government consultants/experts who are bound by appropriate non-disclosure requirements.

For information contact:


Posted Date: February 28, 2012
Responses Due: April 10, 2012