In this special two-part interview, Department of Defense CIO Dana Deasy discusses top IT priorities at the Pentagon, including the JEDI cloud program and artificial intelligence research.
Technology has become a major facet of the Department of Defense’s mission. While the agency funds development in cutting edge hardware to solve battlefield problems, they also pursue tech that covers the entire organization. The most prominent tech acquisition at the Pentagon right now is the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract. JEDI will overhaul how the Pentagon approaches cloud computing, and DoD Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy describes it as a “pathfinder.” “The idea is that we have a number of clouds at the Department of Defense. Those clouds were set up as discrete standalone solutions, and what we’re trying to do here is put in place an enterprise solution,” Deasy said. “It’s looking for a partner that can help teach us to put in an enterprise cloud solution.” Due to the massive amount of interest in the program, a new complication has been added to the pitch process. Interested parties have more time to submit, but they must present their proposals in person. “The cloud for us is all about solving for the missions across the Department of Defense, we have a lot of complex missions. Having the potential suppliers come in and present their offerings is all about them articulating how they would solve for those missions, how they would technically stand up their clouds,” Deasy told Government Matters. “The solution requires an in-depth, on-site discussion.” Another technology that the Pentagon wants to leverage is artificial intelligence. Deasy says that the Pentagon is working on standing up a Joint Artificial Intelligence Center; one that will help the department use the large amounts of data they take in. “It’s not meant to be complicated. You’re looking to solve for taking in a lot of data… ingest it, bring it in, use algorithms or data science to interpret it and bring back results that will help the warfighter,” said Deasy.