DOD seeks help incorporating tech trends into strategy

The Defense Department and other agencies are increasingly looking to industry to help institutionalize key IT trends and capabilities, modeling the work of the private sector in areas such as acquisition, cloud computing, security and research and development.

With budgets tightening, government is hoping to capitalize on industry-driven trends to save money while streamlining operations, according to members of a panel of government officials speaking at the AFCEA Emerging Technologies Symposium on Feb. 21 in Washington.

“To take a trend on, there’s a lot that has to be considered: it’s acquisition, it’s who provides the service, it’s considering what’s the next thing that’s going to come out,” said Peter Tseronis, the Energy Department's chief technology officer. “They’re all services that can be provided — it’s up to us to figure out how it serves the mission.”

Enterprise IT is the biggest development in technology the government is looking for help in implementing. DOD has made high-profile strides, is seeking to accelerate progress, and the rest of the federal government is following, the panelists indicated.

“The biggest thing for the Air Force will be looking at the efficiencies for this year and next year, which pushes us into a data center consolidation that has to be an enterprise-resilient,” said Frank Konieczny, chief technology officer at the Secretary of the Air Force Office for Information Dominance.

DOD also wants similarly wide implementation of identity-based network access to fast-track IT for broader security, according to Capt. Christopher Page, commanding officer of the Hopper Information Services Center, Office of Naval Intelligence.

“If we could solve this problem [of identity access controls], a lot of other architectural challenges we face we could get easier,” Page said.

But a major challenge lies in the speed of acquisition.

“We understand that we need to not buy IT like we buy tanks…so that’s easy to say, but what does it mean? It really starts with requirements and how we [establish requirements] for IT and network capabilities,” said Gary Blohm, director of the Army Architecture Integration Center.

Agencies and organizations should learn from each other and build from joint lessons learned, panelists said.

“We’re looking for joint, collaborative, open-system solutions to our problems. The first question we ask is, who’s doing it better? What are the other services doing? And then we reach out to our partners in the dot-gov environment because we have to cut that cycle time,” said Maj. Gen. Steven Smith, director of the Cyber Directorate, Army CIO/G-6.

The most critical factor in successfully integrating the cutting edge into long-standing doctrine lies in the heart of any IT enterprise, regardless of agency, Tseronis said.

“Infrastructure is the key to everything. If you’re thinking infrastructure and you have an opportunity as an agency or organization to restructure it, then that should enable you to [implement trends],” he said. “Infrastructure is paramount. If you build it right, whatever the trend is, you can build that in.”

About the Author

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

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