DIA plans global delivery system for intell support

Agency is promoting secure information sharing with other government intelligence and analysis agencies.

The Defense Intelligence Agency is working on several fronts to improve the underlying IT services that support intelligence analysts around the world, according to a senior agency official speaking May 2 at the Department of Defense Intelligence Information Systems (DODIIS) worldwide conference in Detroit.

DIA’s top priorities include streamlining and standardizing its IT architecture, said Grant M. Schneider, DIA’s deputy director for information management and its chief information officer.

The old DIA service model was based regionally, with regional accounts providing user support. The new model retains the regional aspect for customer service support, but services are delivered globally, Schneider said.

Besides cutting costs, the new model can provide operating efficiencies. Schneider offered the example of a combatant command that had lost its network services because its servers were in a flooded basement. DIA was able to support the command by directing services to it through parts of the DIA enterprise.

DIA also continues to work with the National Reconnaissance Office, National Security Agency and the National Geospatial Agency on a project known as Quad.

Quad is intended to create a secure and interoperable environment for cross-agency information sharing. The initiative also provides a common set of principles for collaboration. “For our purposes, Quad equals one,” said Schneider.

The DIA’s key priority remains customer service, not “IT for IT’s sake,” he said. Customers want a transparent user experience and they want to have input in the decision-making process. Above all, systems and services must work. “Our customers need to focus on their mission,” he said.

Social media increasingly is becoming a factor in that process. DIA’s customers are looking for social media tools that across work platforms, and the job of IT professionals is to provide security while maintaining openness. “We live in a social media environment,” Schneider said.

But despite its many advantages, interconnectivity can also slow down decision-making because every party has a say in the process. “As we increase the amount of trust, decisions become harder to make,” he said.