DOD data policy focuses on sharing

New strategy requires more complex thinking about data use, accessibility

The Defense Department’s new information-sharing strategy will require officials to anticipate their data being used by nongovernmental organizations, coalition partners, other federal agencies, and state and local governments.
DOD leaders say the strategy represents a big change, and how well people adapt to it will largely determine the department’s future success. The new information-sharing strategy is necessary, they say, because DOD’s mission is evolving, and the military must often work with outside partners.

“The strategy promotes, encourages and incentivizes information sharing — which might sound like a softball — but it is a new way of doing business for us,” said Debra Filippi, DOD’s federal information-sharing executive.

“Our practices of the past need to change because we have been very sheltered,” Filippi said. “We are trying to inspire folks to make information accessible and visible and not worry about keeping it [away from] folks who don’t have an obvious need. It requires an uncomfortable shift from the past.”

John Grimes, DOD’s chief information officer, signed off on the new information-sharing strategy May 4.
Filippi’s office is developing an implementation plan for the new strategy. A draft is due in the fall. Grimes and Air Force Maj. Gen. Dale Meyerrose, associate director of national intelligence and CIO at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), also will sign off on Version 2 of DOD’s Net-Centric Enterprise services strategy, which complements the information-sharing document, in about a month.

“Information must be understandable and must be able to be used over and over again,” Grimes said in a recent speech.

In some respects, the information-sharing strategy announced May 4 endorses work DOD is already doing, Filippi said. “We already were doing some work in the information-sharing area, specifically with communities of interest and information assurance, but it was appropriate to knit these pieces together under the banner of a more strategic perspective and now line them up as service components of DOD.”

The forthcoming implementation guide will build on DOD’s work with COIs. For example, DOD is working with federal agencies such as the Coast Guard, the Transportation Department and ODNI to develop standards and best practices for sharing maritime information.

Filippi said it is important that DOD work with COIs and not compete with them. “We are looking at things from a strategic perspective and bringing into alignment how all these pieces make sense.”

Paul Duggal, BearingPoint’s managing director of public services solutions, said the best way to implement the new information-sharing strategy will be to show obvious benefits to all data users.

“Sponsorship is key in these initiatives,” Duggal said. “The organization has to see the benefits of providing and consuming the information under this architecture.”

David Chesebrough, president of the Association for Enterprise Integration, said DOD’s biggest challenge will be to establish trust and governance in the new data-sharing environment. “DOD is breaking new ground here,” he said. “They should start small and scale [up] the ones that work.”
Steps to sharingThe Defense Department’s information-sharing strategy asks the military services and DOD agencies to:
  • Promote, encourage and offer incentives for sharing information.
  • Expand the boundaries within which information sharing can occur.
  • Anticipate events and be ready to quickly accommodate new partners.
  • Ensure trust among organizations that share information.
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