Dave Spirk, the Defense Department’s chief data officer, said the new strategy is a break from the past data landscape, which focused on networks and transports for moving data.
The Defense Department’s new data strategy pivots how the Pentagon views its data landscape by focusing on the needs of warfighters and senior leaders making decisions, according to the department’s chief data officer.
The DOD Net-Centric Data Strategy, signed in 2003, prescribed an “outside in” view of the data landscape, according to CDO Dave Spirk, who spoke at a National Defense Industrial Association symposium Wednesday. The department’s first enterprisewide data plan, released October 8, does the opposite, he said.
“Previously, we focused on ensuring that there were networks and transports to send packages of information and data, when and where it needed to go,” Spirk said. “When we talk about inside out, we're really talking about putting the warfighter and the senior leader who needs to make a better decision at the center of everything.”
Spirk explained this means requirements for data must flow from decision-makers. The key is making sure information gets in the right hands at the pace of a mission.
The new strategy was signed by Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist, another change from the previous document, which was signed by then-Chief Information Officer John Stenbit. Spirk said executive sponsorship is notable here, and that leaders across the department recognize the value data lends warfighters.
Spirk also outlined some of the major challenges to implementation, citing a lack of enterprise data management and a lack of systems interoperability. Trust and sharing among components as well as breaking down silos are perennial problems for DOD.
The Air Force’s Nicolas Chaillan excoriated DOD’s siloed nature during a Thursday morning appearance at Amazon Web Service’s National Security Series, produced by the events division of Government Executive Media Group, Nextgov’s parent company. Like Spirk’s work on the new data strategy, Chaillan is working on enterprisewide projects, including the Pentagon’s flagship DevSecOps initiative. He called territorial disputes between components “mind-boggling.”
“It goes down to even like basic partnerships … we have so many silos and that's really part of the reason as to why we cannot really scale things and why we reinvent the wheel, and why we don't do very well with enterprise services,” Chaillan said.
The new data strategy aims to alleviate some of these sharing problems by establishing strong organizational relationships between chief data officers and other data leaders across military departments. An expanded CDO Council will serve as a collaboration hub for data leadership, according to Spirk.
Joint All-Domain Operations Command and Control, known as JADC2, will also serve as a conduit for coordinating data standards and interoperability requirements. JADC2’s Cross Functional Team, the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center and the Deputy CIO for C3 must all work together on getting data to the tactical edge, according to the strategy.
The Cross Functional Team’s existing work on data interoperability clearly aligns with the new data strategy, Spirk said. The working group dedicated to data interoperability for JADC2 is now folded into a working group under the CDO Council, he added.
“When you lay the data strategy out, and you really go to the principles inside of it, I think what you'll see even down to the vision statement is it really is about creating operational advantage and efficiencies,” Spirk said. “The operational advantage puts JADC2 right at the heart of the data strategy, and it was designed to be that way.”