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Lynch re-ups at Defense Digital Service

thirdDefense Digital Service Director Chris Lynch speaks during the JEDI Cloud Industry Day in Arlington, Va., on March 7, 2018. (DoD photo by EJ Hersom) 

Defense Digital Service Director Chris Lynch speaks during the JEDI Cloud Industry Day in Arlington, Va., on March 7, 2018. (DoD photo by EJ Hersom)

The founding director of the Pentagon's digital service team and a key leader of the Cloud Executive Steering Group is sticking around for a third year.

Chris Lynch, an entrepreneur who left the private sector in August 2015 to join the then-nascent U.S. Digital Service, was tapped to found the Defense Digital Service in November 2015.

"Joining @USDS and founding @DefenseDigital has been one of the most incredible moments of my life," Lynch tweeted in the evening of April 2. "I get to work with the most amazing team. We get to do important work on a mission that matters. I've been asked numerous times: I have extended my term at DOD and DDS. Onward!"

USDS team members serve in government on a term-limited basis and are eligible to renew for a total of four years of service.

Lynch made waves in the starched, orderly world of the Pentagon by wearing a hoodie to work and launching a bug bounty program called "Hack the Pentagon," which offered security experts rewards for identifying weaknesses in public-facing Department of Defense computer systems. A new round of Hack the Pentagon launched April 1 and focuses on the Defense Travel System.

Under Lynch's leadership, the DDS had a role in pushing for an upgrade to the  DTS, which Lynch derided as "a piece of shit." DDS is still engaged in the DTS modernization. An updated user interface launched in January 2018, while the process to modernize underlying travel policies and migrate to a cloud-based system is still ongoing.

DDS was also instrumental in the relaunch of Move.mil, a U.S. Transportation Command website that gives relocating service members a one-stop shop for relocation information.

Lynch's biggest job might be as a member of the Cloud Executive Steering Group, which is guiding the Pentagon's planned enterprise cloud acquisition. Lynch, a Star Wars fan, dubbed the program the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), and addressed an industry day offering details on the planned, multibillion dollar, single-award procurement in a "cloud city" T-shirt.

The cloud procurement has been controversial because it envisions a single, overarching infrastructure for DOD. Many vendors are concerned that the design of the draft solicitation appears to favor Amazon Web Services, because of its existing classified infrastructure. Some critics have lately been trying to convert President Donald Trump's well documented animus toward Amazon founder Jeff Bezos into opposition to a possible Pentagon cloud deal with AWS.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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