Data Centricity: The Heart of Federal IT

Tom O'Keefe

By Tom O’Keefe, Consultant

If there’s been a common theme I’ve been hearing lately, it’s data centricity.

It’s a fundamental shift in federal IT that’s been building for a few years that could have broad implications for the types of technology investments agencies will look to make in the future. Federal agencies are beginning to realize that not only is data their core asset, they know they need to make start making investments in the stewardship and utilization of that data. It’s not enough to just have data or protect data, that data needs to be operationalized and transformed from data to knowledge to action – and support the execution of the mission.

At an AFCEA Bethesda breakfast I attended in March, speakers from the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security affirmed the increasing understanding within their agency of the value of the data they capture throughout the course of their operations. It’s fair to note here that agencies have been talking about making better use of their data for years, but much like we’ve seen the slow and steady progression to cloud adoption, I believe we’re seeing a steady progression toward realizing the importance of data and turning it into actionable intelligence to enable the mission. Read more of this post

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.

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AI in DOD: Three Places to Get Started

Stephanie Meloni

By Stephanie Meloni, Market Intelligence Manager

The Department of Defense is considering artificial intelligence for everything from improved maintenance and repair of weapons systems to supply chain management and improving business processes. Industry can expect to see exponential growth once implementation takes off.

Consider Project Maven, for example. The DOD’s AI solution for analyzing imagery for intel purposes, has seen funding grow from $16 million in fiscal 2018 to $93 million in fiscal 2019 — a 480 percent increase!

Central to DOD’s AI implementation efforts is the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. JAIC was created quickly to ensure that DOD effectively and ethically builds out its AI capabilities. The organization will look at AI cross-domain solutions across the service branches, as well as specific component projects.

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The CSO: DOD’s New Way to Acquire Commercial Technology

Stephanie MeloniBy Stephanie Meloni, Market Intelligence Manager

As the use of Other Transactional Authority grows across the Department of Defense as a way to cut back on the time and cost of traditional acquisition programs, a new breed of OTA is emerging. The Commercial Solutions Opening, or CSO, has the potential to have significant value to commercial technology vendors and will give government procurement officers more flexibility in making commercial technology awards.

What are CSOs?

CSOs are a type of OTA designation aimed at buying new and innovative commercial technology. Whereas OTAs are designed for researching, developing and prototyping technology projects, CSOs are aimed specifically at commercial technology that already exists, but will be new to the Department.

Initially, the CSO was piloted only to be used by the limited number of buying activities with OTAs already in place, but a memo released last summer expanded their use across the entire DOD.

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DEOS FY19 Update

By Ryan Granato, Analyst

In October the DOD announced it was moving the $8 billion back-office cloud solutions procurement to the GSA Schedule 70 contract, a move to make enterprise information technology services for office productivity available to not only DOD, but to other government agencies as well.

At a recent industry day, representatives from DISA and the General Services Administration provided an updated outlook on the Defense Enterprise Office Solution (DEOS). Dr. Brian Hermann, Unified Capabilities Portfolio Manager at DISA, provided insight into DEOS and how industry can participate.

DEOS will help create a simpler, defensible perimeter by reducing the DOD IT footprint and provides full integration across the DOD, while minimizing security risks and reducing costs. The DOD is continuing to see less data stored locally, meaning that an increased number of employees will be provided only with mobile equipment and a docking station that has access to enterprise services and data.

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FY19 Advice From DISA Industry Day

By Ryan Granato, Analyst

At their recent forecast to industry, DISA outlined a future built around mobility, cybersecurity, small businesses and the importance of targeted industry pitches. Here are key insights from DISA leaders for securing FY19 business:

Selling to DISA
When selling to DISA, it is paramount for industry to tailor their pitch to how their solutions can work specifically for outlined requirements and referenced pain points. According to Dave Bennett, director of DISA’s operations center, nine out of ten times what worked for industry commercially will not work for DISA. Even more so, he says that any pitches that reference past performance for industry will not be met with open arms. Bennett goes so far as to say, “I will zero my mind out. I will be singing la la la in the back of my head.” For best practices, Bennett says that industry must come armed with knowledge directly associated to the area they are looking to support.

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How the DOD’s FY19 Modernization Priorities Align to Technology

Stephanie MeloniGlobal communication concept. Technological abstract background.

By Stephanie Meloni, consultant

The Department of Defense continues to evolve at a fast pace to modernize and stay ahead of adversarial threats. This past year has brought many changes in terms of organizations within the DOD. To name a few, we have the Army Futures Command, the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center and the Defense Innovation Unit, that dropped the “X” (for experimental), to imply its permanent role in helping the DOD stay on the cutting edge of technology.

These organizational shifts and changes show the DOD’s response to the changing warfighting environment. Last year, much of the priority was on restoring readiness—now the Department has shifted to modernization. Increases in budget (and actual appropriations) are allowing decision makers to more strategically align funds to the investment priorities that need the most attention. IT spending is set to peak in FY19, so it will be a critical year for technology companies to come in and help the DOD with solutions that will help them stay focused on modernization. Here are just a few of those priorities: Read more of this post

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