Info strategy challenges Air Force

The Air Force is doing a good job of making data available worldwide via ground- and air-based platforms, but knowledge management and security remain top challenges, the Air Force chief information officer said, speaking Oct. 8 about the service's progress on its information strategy.

"Knowledge management is one of the most significant challenges we face," said John Gilligan, Air Force CIO. "Air Force knowledge is managed in pockets, and we have not yet figured out how to grow it beyond the pockets" and apply it in areas such as warfighting capabilities.

As an example, Gilligan said the Air Force has put battlefield reports from Afghanistan online, but those reports lack video clips and other multimedia features. They also do not have a searchable format that would make them more useful to the service's worldwide audience.

In addition to the challenges of implementing knowledge management practices and enterprise information assurance, the Air Force's information strategy, released Aug. 20, includes seven other goals:

* Providing decision-makers and all service personnel with on-demand access to information to perform their duties.

* Ensuring worldwide, real-time and secure access to information via a single global network environment through a robust digital communications infrastructure.

* Ensuring that Air Force integrated information systems are built to enable modular, platform-independent information management capabilities and are interoperable with other government information systems.

* Using information technology to improve processes to increase efficiency and effectiveness.

* Taking advantage of state-of-the-art information technology and commercial practices.

* Empowering a well-trained workforce prepared to embrace new information-based capabilities.

* Ensuring responsible stewardship of financial resources spent on information management and related IT.

Speaking at an Oct. 8 panel discussion sponsored by the Northern Virginia Technology Council in Reston, Va., Gilligan called on industry to help the Air Force with its information management goals also in the areas of:

* Developing products and services that are compliant with enterprise standards.

* Enterprisewide security.

* Secure wireless solutions.

In other Air Force IT news, Gilligan said the service has completed about 30 percent of its server consolidation effort, eliminating more than 2,000 servers. He added that current fiscal year focus areas include centralizing network operations at one location for each base and desktop management, with business application server reduction slated mostly for fiscal 2004 and beyond.

The Air Force portal is also progressing through its first phase with reduced sign-on, personalization features, and base and command information being pushed to users. Enhancements planned for the second phase include integrated workflow applications, he said.

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