Army rethinks governing IT policies, networks

Plans to rescind existing network policies, shutter AKO part of broader transformation

The Army is rescinding existing network policies and reconsidering its numerous, disparate IT networks as part of broader plans for transforming the way it communicates and operates, according to a top Army official.

“Some of [these policies] are antiquated, some are contradictive – they’re all being rescinded as we speak,” said Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, Army CIO/G-6, who said the duplicative policies will be scrapped in favor of two overarching policies that govern Army IT network operations. Lawrence spoke July 14 at a briefing held by the Association of the U.S. Army in Arlington, Va.

“There are policies out there that aren’t worth the paper they’re written on,” she said.

The new policies are currently under consideration and would replace multiple-directive policies typically rewritten every five years; instead, the new policies would get rewrites every year.

“That’s our playbook, that’s how we’re going to fight [with] the network,” Lawrence said.

To support the move toward streamlined network operations, the Army is also re-evaluating its use of separate IT networks for different Army components – including Army Knowledge Online (AKO), the online portal widely used by service members and their families and retirees.

As Federal Computer Week previously reported, the Army plans to phase out AKO and replace it with the enterprise e-mail system being developed and implemented.

“There are multiple networks out there – AKO is just one. AKO is a great network; we’re looking into all the disparate networks to collapse into the enterprise,” Lawrence said. “It’s too costly to operate all these networks out there doing the same thing. We can’t afford to do that anymore.”

When asked about how the potential shutdown of AKO would affect the Defense Departmentwide Defense Knowledge Online, Lawrence said she is uncertain about the relationship between the two systems but the situation is being explored

Other key parts of the network transformation strategy include the move to implement single identifications for Army users, rather than multiple email addresses and accounts, that use fine-grain authentication and access controls, Lawrence said. Establishing a comprehensive common operating picture that includes stringent, enterprisewide technical standards is also critical to the transformation, she noted.

“It’s about getting access to data … we have to get agile IT access,” Lawrence said.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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