Defense

DOD taps Dave Spirk as chief data officer

Mr. David Spirk, U.S. Special Operations Command chief data officer, speaks to an audience during the USSOCOM Data Engineering Lab grand opening ceremony in Tampa, Fla., Sept. 25, 2019. The lab is an open-concept work environment and is the Command’s outpost of a larger DoD modernization eco-system, whose goal is to foster collaboration between Special Operations Forces professionals, data scientists, data architects, software developers, systems integrators and technologists. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Barry Loo) 

Dave Spirk, then U.S. Special Operations Command chief data officer, speaks at the USSOCOM Data Engineering Lab in Tampa, Fla., Sept. 25, 2019. (Photo credit: U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Barry Loo)

The Department of Defense has tapped Dave Spirk as its new chief data officer.

Spirk, who has filled the same role with U.S. Special Operations Command over the past two years, will start work June 22.

"Effective data management is the central component of the department's Digital Modernization Strategy," CIO Dana Deasy said in a statement. "Dave brings extensive experience and a thorough understanding of how data empowers joint, all-domain operations. I look forward to working with Dave as we create a strong data culture across the department."

According to the department, Spirk has a background working with intelligence agencies and will help execute its modernization strategy. Part of that strategy includes collaborating more closely with industry and non-DOD mission partners to better focus IT investments to take advantage of the department's massive -- but decentralized -- troves of data.

"Agile, resilient, transparent, seamless and secure IT infrastructure and services that transform data into actionable information and ensure dependable mission execution in spite of the persistent cybersecurity threat are vital," the strategy states.

The CDO position moved to the office of the CIO from the office of the chief management officer because of requirements of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. Deasy outlined plans at the beginning of this year to set up a small, 10-person office to support the new hire. One of the first priorities of that office will be aligning DOD policies, standards and implementation to support all-domain operations against "a capable adversary."

Spirk also has a background working on intelligence matters. He served as an intelligence specialist for the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan and chief of operations for the Cuba and Venezuela Mission Manager at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The CDO position is required under the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policy Act, and is tasked with developing and managing a strategic plan for agency data. A DOD spokesperson told FCW that the department's data strategy is expected to land sometime in late summer. 

About the Author

Derek B. Johnson is a former senior staff writer at FCW.

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