Pentagon Publishes Five Data Decrees

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Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks also mandated assessments of certain data efforts in a May 5 memo.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks released five “data decrees” meant to help the Defense Department achieve the vision laid out in its enterprisewide data strategy. 

DOD Chief Data Officer David Spirk teased the pending release of the decrees in a recent webinar, and on May 5, Hicks signed a memo outlining five such decrees. The memo also mandates assessments of various data efforts including the establishment of DOD CDO as an independent entity separate from the DOD chief information officer. 

“Transforming the Department of Defense (DoD) to a data-centric organization is critical to improving performance and creating decision advantage at all echelons from the battlespace to the board room, ensuring U.S. competitive advantage,” Hicks said in the memo, which was announced May 10

The five decrees are:

  • Maximize data sharing and rights for data use: all DOD data is an enterprise resource.
  • Publish data assets in the DOD federated data catalog along with common interface specifications.
  • Use automated data interfaces that are externally accessible and machine-readable; ensure interfaces use industry-standard, non-proprietary, preferably open-source, technologies, protocols, and payloads.
  • Store data in a manner that is platform and environment-agnostic, uncoupled from hardware or software dependencies.
  • Implement industry best practices for secure authentication, access management, encryption, monitoring, and protection of data at rest, in transit, and in use. 

In addition to the decrees, the assessment of the establishment of an independent DOD CDO is due July 1. On the same date, DOD CDO and the Defense Digital Service will work together to identify “near-term options to accelerate the adoption of enterprise data management and data analytics capability,” according to the memo. The memo also mandates delivery of a plan of action and milestones, or POA&M, for filling identified gaps.

Another report due September 1 will review current and developing data platforms with the aim of finding opportunities for more integration, per the memo. A month later, a report looking at the DOD data workforce will be due. DOD CDO will work again with DDS as well as the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness to find data talent across DOD as well as pinpoint skills gaps in the workforce.

The memo also directs components to participate in the DOD Data Council and development of capabilities that can close interoperability gaps for joint warfighting. It also designates the Advancing Analytics platform, known as Advana, as the “single enterprise authoritative data management and analytics platform” for the defense secretary, the deputy defense secretary, and principal staff assistants. 

“The use of other data management and analytics platforms must be approved by the DoD CDO and appropriate Component CDO to ensure adherence to an open data standard architecture,” the memo reads. The Deputy’s Management Action Group and Deputy’s Workforce Council will also use Advana, according to the memo.

The Pentagon came out with its first enterprisewide data strategy in October 2020. At a recent Aspen Security Forum event, Hicks affirmed the department is continuing with the vision laid out in the strategy, which was produced under the previous administration. 

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