Changes Coming for IT at DOD Fourth Estate Agencies

Stephanie Meloni

By Stephanie Meloni, Market Intelligence Manager

The DOD CIO office continues to put a strong emphasis on moving as many IT functions as possible to an enterprise construct. This includes efforts like milCloud, JEDI, data and network consolidation.

A newer consolidation and standardization project that will be picking up steam this year is the Fourth Estate network consolidation. Fourth Estate agencies consist of 28 Pentagon agencies outside of the Service branches. Combined, these agencies are responsible for about a fifth of the DOD’s budget.

The FY19 NDAA initially requested budget cuts for the Fourth Estate, and a GAO report which came out last September requested some efficiency initiatives around consolidation for the Fourth Estate. As a result of these budget and efficiency recommendations, DOD plans to consolidate network and other IT functions.

Currently, these agencies own 34 different networks, all of which were built separately and are in various states—some are more robust, while some experience more user problems. Consolidating these networks into one will not only save money but improve operations and security. The effort will involve networking, configuration management, licensing and IT service management.

DISA will be leading the project, which will also affect its own networks. (Note that this consolidation will not affect the Intelligence Community or Defense Acquisition University and other education-related organizations within the Fourth Estate—those will be worked on separately.) This will largely affect vendors who sell solutions to the Fourth Estate agencies who are undergoing this transformation.

The plan is for all IT personnel who were previously working at other Fourth Estate agencies to report to DISA. The goal is for DISA to take control of the commodity IT and networks for selected agencies by the end of this fiscal year. The number of networks to be consolidated is still being determined but should be between 13 and16.

Technology companies selling into this space need to be aware of these changes not only from an organizational perspective, but also for the opportunities this will create. A major focus of the network optimization will center on cybersecurity. The networks resulting from this consolidation (one classified, one unclassified) will have been built from a variety of technical requirements: risk and threat assessments, configuration management, networking, systems engineering and network security, to name just a few.

Because of the enterprise mentality of the DOD, we’ll continue to see similar initiatives across the Department, and this network optimization plan may expand to the Services as well. Projects like this will further set up the DOD to modernize in order to take advantage of cloud and analytics offerings, and industry will continue to be imperative in ensuring DOD’s IT systems and networks are keeping pace with threats.

Stay closely engaged with your customers within the Fourth Estate to help them fit the right products that this network consolidation project will require as these changes begin to take effect.

 

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