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CHIPS Articles: Department of Navy Digital Workplace and Imminent Change

Department of Navy Digital Workplace and Imminent Change
By Angela Dix, Digital Workplace Portfolio Lead, CDIO, DON CIO - October-December 2020
Pandemic Response to Digital Workplace

In the previous edition of CHIPS magazine, our Digital Workplace article, “DON’s Pandemic Response Leads to Digital Workplace,” highlighted how the Department of Defense rapidly adopted the Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR) Microsoft Teams environment to provide a means for DoD personnel to collaborate and stay connected during the telework conditions forced upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since that article was published, the DoD Chief Information Officer, in coordination with U.S. Cyber Command and the Defense Information Systems Agency, extended CVR service and approved its use through June 2021. This second extension is a testament to the convenience and speed at which personnel adopted and grew accustomed to using the tools within Microsoft Teams to enable more effective work outcomes.

Innovate: Digital Workplace Vision

Mike Galbraith, Chief Digital Innovation Officer presented, “Innovate: Digital Workplace Vision,” at the DON CIO East Digital Conference on Nov. 4, 2020. During the presentation, Mr. Galbraith asserted that prior to CVR, the Department of the Navy was still operating on its networks as if it were 1995. To better illustrate that point, think back to 1995 for a moment: Michael Jordan left Minor League Baseball and returned to basketball in March of that year. Do you remember the year you first used the internet? In 1995, only 3% of all Americans had ever logged onto the World Wide Web. Indeed, times have changed on most fronts. Yet, according to Louis Koplin, Deputy Chief Technology Officer, and Andrew Tash, Chief Architect, Program Executive Office (PEO) Digital, the DON continues to invest in outdated commercial technologies that are 15 to 20 years behind industry standards. (See Transforming the Naval Network Experience).

Pressing Forward

The DON Information Superiority Vision (ISV) charters the Department to modernize DON infrastructure from its current state of fragmented, non-performant, outdated, and indefensible architectures to a unified, logical modern infrastructure capable of delivering information advantage. This change is imperative to ensure the success of an Information Age military and to achieve a digital edge that no adversary can match (ISV, 2020).

Rather than go back to the pre-COVID, 1995 way of doing business, the DON is pressing forward with “cloud-aware” infrastructure upgrades and rolling out modern digital tools. The goal is to complete as much of the upgrades and technology migration as possible prior to the June CVR shutdown. The DON is laying the foundation for a future Digital Workplace that is secured, reliable, and provides flexible access to people, information, applications, and processes from anywhere by authorized users on any trusted device.

The Future with Digital Technology

The Department of the Navy strategy is to keep benefits currently available in CVR and incorporate innovative, impactful changes that promote mission efficiency and protect the warfighter. The DON is focused on change in three core areas to enable the management and adoption of new digital tools: culture, policy, and funding. The adoption of digital tools will require a culture shift from outdated 1990’s capabilities to modern technology.

Policy adjustments are required to ensure cybersecurity and Operations Security (OPSEC) compliance while simultaneously providing processes for adoption of new toolsets. And, finally, funding processes and budgets must be adapted as we move away from paying for legacy equipment and networks to long-term sustainment for modern solutions. These changes will modernize the DON’s way of securely communicating with partners and allies and carrying out mission-driven objectives.

These are the shifts we must make to provide the warfighter with means by which to master the information environment; rather than continuing with the status quo which currently requires Sailors and Marines to manually contextualize raw data from multiple unintegrated systems (ISV 2020). The DON CIO is proud to lead this charge into the future to protect our warfighters and communication infrastructure.

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CHIPS is an official U.S. Navy website sponsored by the Department of the Navy (DON) Chief Information Officer, the Department of Defense Enterprise Software Initiative (ESI) and the DON's ESI Software Product Manager Team at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific.

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