DOD getting GIG together

The Defense Department must think about its network-centric enterprise strategy rather than allow ad hoc networking to continue, according to the department's deputy chief information officer.

Priscilla Guthrie, speaking at a Federal Sources Inc. breakfast meeting today, said the different components of the Global Information Grid are starting to come together, and the department is close to seeing real results from the work.

"We have to stop thinking about [the Joint Tactical Radio System] as just a radio," she said. "It all starts with the GIG Bandwidth Expansion and the satellites, and we use the JTRS as the last-mile connectivity. We have to make sure everything is compatible with the Navy Marine Corps Intranet and at every post, camp and station. It must be a seamless, end-to-end network."

Guthrie said DOD will conduct a series of pilots this summer to show the progress of the network-centric enterprise services, and determine what has yet to be done.

Guthrie also said that the office of the CIO is redoubling its efforts to push transformation throughout the department in order to achieve network-centricity and secure the network with a comprehensive information assurance plan.

But none of it is proving to be particularly easy. Guthrie said the three things that keep her up at night are information assurance, operations across the entire DOD enterprise and governing the structure throughout its lifecycle.

"We absolutely have to solve the IA problem, and we have to do it in a network-centric world," Guthrie said. "We have to do it in real time, with ongoing, persistent IA."

Guthrie said that background checks performed on individuals when they were first hired no longer serve a useful purpose, and that some form of updated, real-time check needs to evolve.

"What if, instead of relying on a background check performed five years ago, we do an instant credit check on somebody as they logged in," she asked. "I'm not sure I like that particular idea [of a credit check], but something like that in real time that's up-to-date."

Beyond IA, she said, the department needs to take a serious look at its communications and determine how it will operate the GIG across the enterprise.

"Industry operates [network operations centers] and knows how communications are supposed to work," she said. "But because of bureaucratic and political reasons, that has not been brought into the department."

"We still work across boundaries and hedgerows," she said.

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