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DOD Leaders Brief Congress on IT, Cybersecurity, Information Assurance

Senior Defense Department officials testified on the department’s information technology, cybersecurity and information assurance efforts today at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee’s panel on intelligence, emerging threats, and capabilities.

DOD’s Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy discussed digital modernization issues such as the cloud, cyber and C3, otherwise known as command, control and communications.

“DOD will remain a multicloud environment, with both general-purpose and fit-for-purpose clouds as part of our long-term strategy,” the CIO said.

The National Defense Strategy makes clear that the character of warfare is changing, he said, adding that competitors such as Russia and China are investing heavily in modernization in artificial intelligence to refine the future of warfare.

“DOD must do the same,” Deasy said. “The [DOD] AI Strategy emphasizes the need to increase speed and agility, which will deliver AI-enabled capabilities, the importance of involving our partnerships with industry and academia, and the department’s commitment to lead military ethics in AI safety.”

The emergence of digital technologies has introduced new challenges to the traditional C3 landscape, he noted. “To take advantage of the new digital capabilities to protect our warfighter from corresponding weaknesses, we must modify and modernize our C3 systems,” he said.

Cyber Strategy

Turning to cyber, Deasy noted DOD’s release of its 2018 Cyber Strategy in September, and explained that the strategy articulates how DOD implements the National Defense Strategy in cyberspace.

“The Cyber Top 10 focuses on remediation strategies for a complex cyber landscape with components ranging from information networks to our cyber workforce and supply chain, risk management and beyond,” Deasy said. The DOD CIO works closely with protecting critical technology task force to identify technical solutions to enhance protection of the Defense Industrial Base, he added.

For the first time, DOD’s CIO is reviewing and certifying all of its budgets, which includes cyber across the department, Deasy told the panel. “The department’s cyber workforce is critical to our mission success,” he said.

IT Reform

Lisa W. Hershman, DOD’s acting chief management officer, also testified at the hearing. “While we execute reform in many areas,” she said, “information technology infrastructure, business systems and data management have some of the most significant opportunities for improvement.”

It’s extremely difficult for DOD to deliver an effective, innovative or secure IT environment, Hershman told the panel, and three major areas of emphasis in the department’s business systems reform are eliminating redundant systems, maximizing shared service delivery, and streamlining business operations in areas such as procurement through category management.

“Through initiatives in these three areas, we’ve already made progress toward simplifying the IT landscape, reducing operational costs, and enabling business process integration,” Hershman said. “As we execute reform, we remain ever mindful that the goal is delivery of secure, relevant, clean data to support business decisions while IT infrastructures and business systems act as vehicles by which the data travels.”