Air Force strengthens CIO role

The CIO will have more influence on IT strategy and budgeting, and the Air Force will move some of its components to DOD's enterprise email.

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Air Force CIO Lt. Gen. Michael Basla said the service is taking a more holistic approach to IT investments.

Air Force leaders are making some changes in order to bring the service's IT under centralized governance, including adding decision-making powers to the CIO position and transitioning, at least in part, to the Defense Department's enterprise email system.

The CIO office will soon have greater influence on IT strategy and the budget review and approval processes, according to Air Force CIO Lt. Gen. Michael Basla, who spoke Dec. 11 at an AFCEA event in Vienna, Va.

"As I looked at how we provisioned IT capabilities in the past...it became obvious to me that only about half of our IT investments [were] under the purview of the CIO, and half of our IT investments came from all the other portfolios out there," Basla said. "Up to this point, that has not been a synchronized effort. That's not because there was any nefarious activity going on; it was because we hadn't looked at it from a holistic approach. That's not the best way to run a railroad. The bottom line is the status quo is not an option anymore."

With IT spending spread across a number of areas in the Air Force -- and becoming increasingly important given the emphasis on cybersecurity operations -- a new approach means newly centralized strategic direction and spending oversight, he said.

"The goal is to enable our Air Force -- all functions, all major commands, all core function lead integrators -- to make informed and coordinated investment decisions regarding IT and cyber investment," Basla said.

The move toward centralization also serves to better align the Air Force with DOD-wide enterprise IT efforts, including the Joint Information Environment. Part of that move includes migrating at least some parts of the Air Force to the enterprise email capabilities to which the Army has also transitioned.

Basla said the Air Force is in the final stages of transitioning its headquarters offices to the email system, which the Defense Information Systems Agency leads, and there's a good business case for moving its Secret IP Router Network to the system as well, which will happen in the coming months. As for the rest of the Air Force's components, that remains to be determined.

"Our SIPRNet needed modernization. The defense enterprise email provided that modernization opportunity, and so we're migrating there next," Basla said. "The rest of the Air Force, we're building that plan right now."

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