Information Technology Initiatives Must be Tied to DoD’s Mission, Official Says


Dana Deasy, the Defense Department’s chief information officer, spoke to members of the DoD information technology community about the importance of being mission focused and innovative during his remarks at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association’s Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium in Baltimore May 17.

Deasy, a former private-sector executive who assumed the DoD CIO role May 7, is focused on the importance of understanding and supporting the mission.

Dana Deasy
Dana Deasy, the Defense Department’s chief information officer, spoke to members of the DoD information technology community about the importance of being mission focused and innovative. His remarks were made at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association’s Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium in Baltimore May 17, 2018. Deasy is pictured here at the Pentagon’s Nunn-Lugar conference room following his swearing-in ceremony as the Defense Department’s chief information officer, May 7, 2018. DoD photo by Terri Moon Cronk
Dana Deasy
Dana Deasy
Dana Deasy, the Defense Department’s chief information officer, spoke to members of the DoD information technology community about the importance of being mission focused and innovative. His remarks were made at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association’s Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium in Baltimore May 17, 2018. Deasy is pictured here at the Pentagon’s Nunn-Lugar conference room following his swearing-in ceremony as the Defense Department’s chief information officer, May 7, 2018. DoD photo by Terri Moon Cronk

“When you ask 10 different people in the private sector ‘Why are we here?’ you might get 10 different answers. But here, everyone talks about the mission and how it aligns to the National Defense Strategy,” he said. “Everybody is crystal clear on the focus of the mission.”

Aligning IT Mission With National Defense Strategy

Deasy urged all members of the DoD IT community to get to know the National Defense Strategy in depth, and to make sure what they are doing is aligned.

“Truly understanding what’s said inside that strategy will crystallize what we need to focus on, he said. “The three tenets are lethality, alliances, and reform. … Every conversation I’ve had so far has been: Tell me your part, the role you’re playing in supporting those three tenets.”

The CIO said he will pursue innovative ideas and technologies, but cautioned “innovation” doesn’t always equate to something new.

“People always think when you use the term innovation you’re talking about something that is brand new, leading edge, maybe never been done or we want to be early adopters on,” Deasy said. “But I also always remind people innovation is sometimes taking what you have [and asking], how do you make it better?”

Cyber Innovation, Moving to the Cloud

He is particularly interested in innovation that falls within the areas of cyber: data integration through a variety of methods, tools and techniques, including big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence; a cloud that sits at the foundation and a world-class environment.

Deasy elaborated on the idea of moving to the cloud, which is currently a major initiative within the department.

“It’s really important to understand this is not a case where you’re trying to lift out of your old world and you’re suddenly trying to drop into your new world. But this is the most phenomenal opportunity I think we’ve ever experienced as technical folks … to be able to look at your legacy estate and say, ‘This is a brilliant opportunity to reengineer,’ he said.

Deasy added, “Cloud allows you to do amazing things that you simply haven’t been able to do historically. … It gives us as IT professionals a whole new way to operate our estate and to build the future of how we want IT to run.”

The CIO also emphasized the need to collaborate with industry, academia and other federal partners in all IT endeavors.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my going-on 37 years of being in technology it is that you cannot go after these things alone,” Deasy said.