DoD to bring services under its IT strategy umbrella

Tuesday - 10/25/2011, 5:33am EDT

WILLIAMSBURG, Va.— Senior military leaders have charged every service and Defense Department agency with a mission to find savings in technology spending and move that money to mission or warfighting needs.

To that end, the DoD chief information officer soon will issue a new IT strategy and roadmap to bring all those efforts under one umbrella.

Achieving CIO 'nirvana'

"We've written this document which is the way ahead for us in DoD in the IT space to get our arms around this big, giant network infrastructure to shrink it — right size it — to get the capacity where we want, eliminate duplication, introduce some standardized activities and consolidate where we can — to achieve the CIO's nirvana," said Rob Carey, DoD's deputy chief information officer at the 21st annual Executive Leadership Conference sponsored by ACT and IAC. "We are hitting about eight areas right out of the shoot, and then we will continue to hack away at this thing until we get it where we want to get it. The network will be driven by the budget profiles. There is just no two ways about it."

Rob Carey

The Defense Department committed to reducing spending by $450 billion over the next 10 years, and a big chunk of that will come from improving the way it uses and buys technology. The Department of the Navy, for example, wants to move billions out of IT and to its warfighting needs by cutting 25 percent of its spending on IT business systems.

The Army is moving its email system to the cloud run by the Defense Information Systems Agency and expects to save as much as $50 an employee.

The new strategy, which will be finalized in weeks, will help DoD get its arms around all of these initiatives, Carey said.

"Everybody is on that same sheet of music," he said. "We are trying to provide that framework that sits above that. The things that are in our plan are already underway by the services. We intend to make them enterprise answers."

The strategy and roadmap will focus on eight areas including:

  • Improving cybersecurity through consolidation, standardization and optimization

  • Data center consolidation

  • Network consolidation

  • Right sizing security architectures. Carey said these will "allow for greater information sharing while maintaining the right sets of security architectures than what we have today."
Carey said DoD will focus on these eight areas over the next two years, and then update the strategy to address longer-term goals.

Budget pressures

Budget is a major reason for DoD to improve how it manages and buys technology, but Carey said the military also can do better.

He said over the past 25 years the services and agencies created thousands of networks because someone, somewhere, told someone to.

"It will take a long time to right-size it and shrink the capacity, but we will get there," Carey said. "We cannot afford it anymore and this is one of our problems."

Budget pressures are placing a different focus on the problem of siloed IT in a new way than ever before, he added.

The other pressure pushing DoD is the move to cloud computing and the broader use of mobile devices.

DoD is out in front of many agencies in using both technologies. For example, DISA runs a test and development platform in the cloud called Forge.net. The Army launched its "Apps for Army" program in 2010 asking soldiers to develop software for the iPhone, BlackBerry and Google Android operating system.

DoD CIO Teri Takai issued a memo in April detailing the Pentagon's requirements for mobile devices, such as encrypted email and signed email, as well as for DoD to have central control to wipe clean lost or stolen devices.

DoD also needs new devices that work in the classified world, Carey said. The SME-PED — the first device to let DoD view classified emails on a handheld device — is going away.

Along with the security of mobile devices and cloud computing, Carey said DoD is in the early stages of developing an approach to securing the cyber identity of its servicemen and women and civilian employees.

"It's with both the polices and the tools we can capture a range of risk- management options to guard the persona of our employees," he said. "We understand based upon talking to our attorneys what we can and can't do. There is a range of options that start with buying someone a credit-monitoring service or offering them a discounted rate of credit-monitoring service all the way up to very active and proactive tools managed by someone that would really keep an eye on my or your digital persona. There is a range of coverage, if you will."

Check out more interviews and coverage from the 2011 Executive Leadership Conference

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