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CHIPS Articles: DON IT East Conference: Learn from the Experts

DON IT East Conference: Learn from the Experts
Strengthening warfighter lethality
By Sharon Anderson, CHIPS senior editor - April-June 2018
Department of the Navy information management and information technology professionals gathered together to learn about the DON’s latest IM/IT/cyberspace policies and initiatives at the DON IT East Conference in Norfolk, Virginia, April 23-25. DON IT Conferences are the approved premier and authoritative events for all DON information technology users.

The office of the DON Chief Information Officer (CIO) hosts an East and West Coast DON IT Conference that includes professional training that applies to IT certifications. The conferences facilitate interaction with DON IT leadership and are a welcome venue to celebrate DON IM/IT Award winners.

DON IT Conferences are collocated with Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) conferences which expands opportunities for participants to network and view the latest commercial technologies. During the DON IT East Conference, the AFCEA Hampton Roads Chapter simultaneously hosted the 2018 Maritime IT Summit where Rear Adm. Dee L. Mewbourne, commander of Military Sealift Command, delivered the keynote address.

DON IT East Conference

During this latest three-day event, subject matter subject matter experts from across the DON and Defense Department briefed attendees on a wide range of timely topics, including: privacy; Navy Business Intelligence Services; Cyber Excepted Service; the DON Cybersecurity Program; cloud computing; mobile computing; knowledge management; enterprise licensing; data optimization and IT modernization. A Navy Marine Corps Electromagnetic Spectrum Summit, Marine Corps Risk Management Framework (RMF) Course and a Data Analytics Track are just a sampling of the informative, comprehensive sessions available to attendees. Further, presenters encourage attendees to ask questions and offer recommendations.

The Experts

An ever-popular track is a discussion of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet and Next Generation Network contract. Naval Enterprise Networks (NEN) PMW 205 program manager Capt. Ben McNeal led a lively discussion on the NGEN re-compete and features which will be added to NMCI functionality in the future.

Steve Muck, the DON’s Privacy Lead, led informative Privacy Track sessions which demonstrated how IT users can protect their personal health information and how to prevent identity theft. The information presented was an eye-opener for many of those attending — there was a collective gasp when they realized how vulnerable their personal data is unless they take a proactive approach to protect it.

In addition, a Small Business and Speed Networking event on the first day of the conference brought industry representatives, DON acquisition personnel and cyber/IT program officials together to learn from each other and to acquaint small business innovators on how to do business with the DON.

A bonus for attendees was that they could earn Continuing Education Units/Continuous Learning Credits for 35 of the sessions which were offered. A complete list is available on the Office of the DON CIO website.

Indeed, the most difficult decision you will make as a conference attendee is deciding which sessions to attend because the topics are designed to interest the average IT user as well as the most advanced IT/cyber professionals.

The DON IT East Conference featured such distinguished speakers and guests as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Information Operations and Space Victor Gavin; Program Executive Officer for Enterprise Information Systems Ruth A. Youngs Lew; U.S. Marine Corps Acting Director C4 and CIO Kenneth W. Bible; and officials from the Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare (OPNAV N2N6); DON Office of the Chief Management Officer; Headquarters U.S Marine Corps; Naval Sea Systems Command; Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command; Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet; Navy Information Forces, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Naval Supply Systems Command, Office of Naval Research; and the Defense Information Systems Agency.

DON IM/IT Excellence Awards

A highlight of each DON IT conference is the presentation of the DON IM/IT Excellence Awards and a discussion panel led by Navy and Marine Corps CIOs in which attendees learn about the DON’s top IT priorities.

Brianeisha Eure, ISSM, SPAWAR Atlantic, was recognized as a Rising Star of the Year for her work in Medical Information Delivery for the Defense Health Agency.

The Privacy Program Excellence Award for exceptional commitment to advance an effective command privacy program was given to the Bureau of Naval Personnel Privacy Cadre, led by Kathleen Eisenhour.

Other DON IM/IT Excellence Awards recipients were recognized at the DON IT West 2018 Conference in San Diego in February.

CIO Panel

Kicking off the discussion, Dr. Kelly E. Fletcher, who has served as Acting DON CIO for the past eight months, explained that effective with his March 16 memo, the Under Secretary of the Navy restructured parts of the Secretariat, including the DON CIO.

Dr. Fletcher said a streamlined office of the DON CIO will now report directly to the Under Secretary, who will also serve as the CIO, and will be focused on meeting statutory requirements. In addition, as Chief Management Officer (CMO), the Under Secretary will oversee the Office of the CMO to prioritize and accelerate business transformation initiatives. The CMO office will be led by four senior executives focusing on business system rationalization and modernization, development of a data strategy, improvement of audit outcomes and reform initiatives. The direct reporting of both the CIO and CMO offices to the Under Secretary reflects the DON's focus on leveraging IT to drive rapid business process improvements, she explained.

The important work historically performed by the office of the DON CIO will continue – certain activities will continue to be performed by the office of the DON CIO, others will be transferred to the CMO office, and some will be delegated to the Navy and Marine Corps. Many of the talented and dedicated people currently in the office of the DON CIO will follow their transferred functions to new positions in these organizations, Fletcher said.

While remarking that she considered her time as Acting DON CIO a high honor, especially working with the passionate professionals within the DON CIO office, Dr. Fletcher said she will continue supporting the DON by leading the CMO's business system rationalization and modernization team beginning April 30.

Navy Cyber Security Division Director (OPNAV N2N6G) Rear Adm. Danelle Barrett and Marine Corps Acting Director C4 and CIO Ken Bible joined Fletcher. Each underscored the importance of speed in modernizing the department’s IT to enable cloud computing which will enable better data sharing and the benefits of artificial intelligence for informed decision-making by senior leaders, Sailors and Marines.

Admiral Barrett explained the Navy’s “Compile to Combat in 24 Hours” pilot which focuses on modernizing the afloat end-to-end architecture which will be based on web services and a new cloud architecture the Navy is testing, including a “micro cloud” aboard ships, and a robust commercial cloud ashore furnished with machine-learning capabilities.

The result will allow the Navy to deploy new software capabilities in under 24 hours, not the 18-month timeframe that’s now common. The Navy is using the XML open standard, and the efficiently-compressed XML format, which uses less bandwidth, to maximize a Sailor’s ability to access data from the Navy’s huge data stores.

“A successful pilot completed on USS Essex (LHD-2) last week and the Stockdale (DDG 106) will be up next month,” Barrett said.

Success lies in automating the Risk Management Framework (RMF), data standardization and decomposing the monolithic systems the Navy now uses to take advantage of open standards and tools, Barrett explained.

“It is a cultural shift from what we have known; I’m not waiting months or years; we have weeks to deploy new code I’ve told my team,” Bible said. “The Marine Corps is in lockstep with the Navy and will leverage what the Navy is doing to fully automate to get to the cloud,” Bible said.

The Marine Corps is working to establish a tactical cloud. Bible said the Commandant has made it very clear that he wants mobile app solutions, ubiquitous Wi-Fi for troops and is seeking a digital transformation of capabilities. The goal is to be able use the network to fight on, even in a denied environment, using cloud at the tactical edge.

The Commandant recognizes the importance of information as critical to fighting and winning future conflicts and stood up a Deputy Commandant for IT to focus on information as warfare, including information operations, space/counter-space, cyber, cyber-enabled psychological operations and electronic warfare. Lt. Gen. Daniel O’Donohue is now filling this position, Bible explained.

Warfighter Lethality

Of course, the fundamental reason for digitizing the DON is to increase warfighter lethality – to build the Navy and Marine Corps the nation needs, panelists agreed. Business process improvement, IT modernization, audit readiness, and cloud computing — constructing the infrastructure the DON needs — simplifies warfighters’ accessibility to data, the timeliness of that information and its security, along with the ability to use that data for human-machine teaming and artificial intelligence capabilities. Combined, this raises the competitive edge for Sailors and Marines in future conflicts and aligns with the National Defense Strategy and the vision the Chief of Naval Operations has for a more lethal, agile force equipped with the best technology designed to outmaneuver rapidly evolving near-peer competitors.

Presentations given during the DON IT East Conference are now available by request to government civilian, military personnel, and DoD support contractors. Please submit your request by using the "Contact Us" link located in the DON CIO Information section on the Office of the DON CIO website.

Navy Cyber Security Division Director Rear Adm. Danelle Barrett (OPNAV N2N6G), Marine Corps Acting Director C4 and CIO Ken Bible and Business Systems Lead, Office of the Chief Management Officer Dr. Kelly Fletcher lead a CIO panel at the DON IT East Conference April 24, 2018 in Norfolk, Virginia. The panelists discussed top DON IT priorities and invited audience participation to ask questions. The three-day conference served as an opportunity for discussion, collaboration and learning from Department of the Navy cyber and IT subject matter experts and officials. U.S. Navy photo by James E. Foehl/Released
Capt. Douglas M. Bridges Jr. (center), commanding officer, Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Business Systems Center (BSC), and Vickie Hardy (left), public affairs for NAVSUP BSC, speak with Kelly E. Fletcher, PhD, chief management officer business analysis, during the Department of the Navy (DON) Information Technology (IT) Conference, East Coast 2018 in Norfolk, Va. The three-day event was held April 23-25, and served as an opportunity for discussion, collaboration, and training of IT policies and initiatives. As part of the conference, Bridges and NAVSUP BSC subject-matter experts showcased Navy One Touch Support, Navy Business Intelligence Services, and eSUPPO mobile application. U.S. Navy photo by James E. Foehl/Released
DON IT Conferences are collocated with Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) conferences which expands opportunities for participants to network and view the latest commercial technologies. During the DON IT East Conference, the AFCEA Hampton Roads Chapter simultaneously hosted the 2018 Maritime IT Summit where Rear Adm. Dee L. Mewbourne, commander of Military Sealift Command, delivered the keynote address April 24, 2018. U.S. Navy photo by James E. Foehl/Released
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