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Both DOD and the Intelligence Community are Working on Major IT Upgrades. Will They Work Together?

The Defense Department and the intelligence community are both in the midst of large-scale information technology upgrades.

Though separate initiatives, the resulting infrastructures created under DOD’s Joint Information Environment and the IC’s Information Technology Enterprise must play well with each other to ensure national security imperatives are best executed across all missions and personnel levels.

Speaking in mid-September, Cathy Johnston, director for IC-ITE and digital transformation at the Defense Intelligence Agency, said both plans must “be managed carefully throughout DOD and the IC” to “ensure tactical users retain benefits we have gained and learned over the past 15 years.”

While it’s still early, DOD officials seem optimistic.

Speaking Wednesday at an event hosted by Defense Systems, David DeVries, DOD’s principal deputy chief information officer, said both initiatives share many of the same principles, such as the push toward shared services and improved identity management.

DeVries said both teams are communicating.

“JIE and IC-ITE fit very well together,” DeVries said, although IC-ITE (pronounced “eyesight”) is more focused on what he called the “top secret fabric.”

DeVries said some of the biggest changes in store for DOD revolve around the collection, analysis and sharing of data. The Pentagon boasts some 1.4 million active duty users, more than 10,000 operational systems, 1,700 data center, 7 million computers and thousands of networks and enclaves, so adoption of technologies like cloud computing is a gradual process. Cloud computing is already a pillar of IC-ITE, and DeVries said the Pentagon is now talking about a cloud instantiation on the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network.

How modern technologies meld together to benefit national security  – and how they fit with defense policies crafted decades ago – will go a long way toward determining the success of JIE and IC-ITE.

“What we’re coming down to is the next maturation,” DeVries said. “The principles are the same, the committees defining it are the same people.”

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