One of the few agencies to see a budgetary increase in President Trump’s 2018 budget was the Defense Department. With a proposed $48 billion budget increase, you may be wondering what the agency’s top priorities will be. What are the biggest challenges that the increased budget could help solve?
In the most recent DorobekINSIDER Live, Christopher Dorobek sat down with GovLoop’s Staff Writer, Francesca El Attrash-Ukaejiofo and former Chief Information Officer at the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Henry Sienkiewicz to discuss DoD’s biggest priorities for 2018 and beyond.
Strengthening cybersecurity workforce retention. From attracting talent to training current employees with the new cyber skills, DoD is working to maintain a knowledgeable workforce. Force of the Future is a group of initiatives designed to maintain DoD’s competitive edge by bringing in top talent. Under this initiative, there are subgroups, which include strengthening family benefits, improving office promotion system and attracting top civilian talent. Still, there is the question of how to find ways to train both the cyber workforce and the larger workforce about cyber. “One of the biggest threat vectors are individuals who will do something out of the norm and unintentionally increase vulnerability,” Sienkiewicz said. It’s important to know what everyone’s doing.
Improving acquisition and procurement of new technology. From big data to cloud, DoD is tackling the new technology environment. One of the biggest challenges is accelerating the contracting process. El Attrash-Ukaejiofo discussed the importance of developing more partnerships with the private sectors. For example, DoD is working with the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), which has increased access to commercial technology and created connections with startups and commercial tech firms in Silicon Valley and regional hubs like Austin, Texas. “We are knee deep in the DIUx process,” Sienkiewicz said. Currently, the toughest part is struggling through the procurement process. “DIUx was able to [bridge] that gap,” he said.
Establishing and promoting leadership. Regardless of political affiliations, DoD needs to have its leadership in place. It’s difficult to move forward without leadership. Sienkiewicz talked about DoD’s job to execute political initiatives. “Appointees need to get in place," he said. "If not there’s not going to be much change.” Part of this involves partnering with the public and getting advice and guidance from past leaders who are service-oriented. One group is the Strategic Advisors to Government Executives (SAGE). It consists of past senior-level executives, such as retired CIOs, who volunteer to give advice and host internal discussions.
Streamlining IT. The Joint Information Environment (JIE) is a single enterprise platform concept under DISA. JIE functions to optimize IT assets at DoD by converging computing and enterprise services into a single platform. From cybersecurity to communications, JIE will help improve the department's missions. “Optimization is crucial,” Sienkiewicz said. DoD will have to learn how to migrate legacy applications and put them together into places like a cloud data center.
Finally, there’s the U.S. Cyber Command, or CYBERCOM, an initiative that deals with cyberspace operations and strategies and directs DoD’s information security. “It will help fast-track more cyber talent into the workforce,” El Attrash-Ukaejiofo said.
With the increased revenue, DoD must be cognizant of using the money properly — and toward the right projects. It will be a balancing act between efficiency, productivity, and being able to access data, while keeping security top of mind. By becoming familiar with these initiatives, DoD will be able to navigate the changing political environment and initiatives.
But ultimately, by getting a better understanding of these four initiatives, the DoD community can navigate a changing administration and the impact of these initiatives. "A more informed workforce makes for a stronger Defense Department and stronger nation overall,” El Attrash-Ukaejiofo said.
Check out and download GovLoop’s guide, Connecting the Mission of the Defense Department to You, here.