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CHIPS Articles: DON’s Pandemic Response Leads to Digital Workplace

DON’s Pandemic Response Leads to Digital Workplace
By Angela Dix - July-September 2020
Prior to the Department of the Navy’s adoption of the ''Commercial Virtual Remote'' (CVR) collaboration environment, a typical day in the life of a DON employee often included lengthy morning and evening commutes, rushing from meeting to meeting, refilling copiers and printers with reams of paper, and trying to ignore the unpleasant aroma of burnt popcorn and reheated fish from the break room. But, that was then.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Defense Department ordered 100% telework for all employees who did not perform mission essential work. This was an unprecedented time for the department, but the DoD Chief Information Officer’s response was rapid and efficient and resulted in combat speed adoption by the Service CIOs and their supporting staffs. The DON was no exception. This shift required immediate change from business as usual to digital team meetings, leaders presenting updates to their staffs via live streaming events, and official collaboration utilizing personal electronic devices.

The DON Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, Mr. Mike Galbraith, supports the evolution of the Naval digital workplace and views it as part of the essential path forward to realizing the objectives of the DON Information Superiority Vision (ISV), issued in February 2020. The ISV calls for the modernization of the DON’s infrastructure and a digital transformation while increasing the department’s cybersecurity. Mr. Galbraith’s goal is to use Naval CVR as a launch pad for what is on the horizon for the DON’s migration to Office 365.

The DoD CIO approved a three-month extension to the CVR environment due to increasing use by component personnel and the need for uninterrupted productive collaboration while teleworking during the uncertainty COVID-19 continues to present. The CVR expiration date, previously scheduled for mid-September, is now extended through Dec. 15, 2020.

Ms. Ruth Youngs Lew, Program Executive Officer for Digital and Enterprise Services (PEO Digital), is leading the modernization of the DON’s aging network infrastructure to pave the way for the rollout of a more permanent solution which will follow the termination of the CVR temporary collaboration environment.

The cornerstone of CVR is Microsoft Teams, a capability that includes chat and meeting (video and audio) functions, online file storage, and Microsoft Office integration with online access to Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The DON CDIO stated that although deployment is dependent on the successful outcome of pilots run by U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), DON employees can expect the following capabilities whether teleworking or in a traditional office setting:

  • Hybrid exchange supporting the unified NMCI Global Address List (GAL) and DoD Enterprise Email (DEE).
  • Non-secure internet protocol router network (NIPRNET) internet-based messaging and collaboration features: email, calendar, contacts, presence, persistent chat, voice, video, shared desktop, and whiteboard.
  • NIPRNET internet-accessible content management: file-sharing and storage; archiving, indexing, search and filtering and workflows.
  • Enterprise Records Management capabilities.

As we move closer to rolling out the new suite of collaboration tools, which will increasingly enhance the digital workplace and user experience, the CDIO will continue to update DON personnel.

Angela Dix is the Digital Workplace Portfolio Lead, DON Chief Digital Innovation Officer (CDIO), in the office of the Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer (DON CIO).

DON CIO Aaron Weis explains the evolution from CVR to O365 to staff during a MS Teams live event meeting.
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