Flavio Coelho

Pentagon Creates Team to Improve SecDef’s IT

A new directorate will serve as a bridge between the Office of the Secretary of Defense and IT service providers.

A new directorate in the Office of the Secretary of Defense will oversee efforts to improve the office’s information technology. 

Dubbed the Information Management & Technology Directorate, it will sit under Michael Donley, the Pentagon’s director of administration and management who is now double-hatted as OSD CIO. The directorate will be led by Danielle Metz, previously the Pentagon’s deputy CIO.

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks announced the move on Thursday, when she released a memo dated Sept. 30.

“Recent cost-driven IT consolidation efforts, coupled with increased demand due to remote work environments and rapid advancements in technology, have highlighted the need for strengthened oversight of OSD IT resources,” Hicks wrote in the memo, entitled “Modernizing the Digital Experience in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.” 

“This includes identifying and integrating IT requirements across Principal Staff Assistants, speaking with a unified voice in coordinating OSD IT requirements with the Joint Service Provider, and providing for regular cybersecurity and technology updates.”

The Defense Department has increased its spending on IT and cybersecurity in recent years, a trend that’s coupled with heavier use of IT systems, particularly through telework spurred by the pandemic. But oversight of defense IT programs has been a challenge. 

For example, the Government Accountability Office found that DOD needed to keep better track of cybersecurity and supply chain risks in its major IT programs. It flagged oversight of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s IT and cyber practices in a recent report. And it found the Coast Guard’s oversight of its IT programs to be inconsistent.

The new office and CIO will serve as a liaison between OSD and IT service providers to “develop and advocate for application and system modernization, and serve as the cyber risk manager for cybersecurity-related issues in OSD.” 

The director is also to send recommendations to and implement policies for the DOD’s chief information officer, chief digital and AI officer, and other senior IT officials in OSD. Hicks’ memo also directs the director to develop an implementation plan with “key actions and phases” to improve OSD’s IT within 60 days.