WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s new software modernization strategy calls for establishing an enterprise-level software factory ecosystem to make the tools and applications used by its development hubs a more regular part of doing business.

The document, released late last week, says the 29 software factories that exist today across the military services have made significant progress, but the Department of Defense needs to better take advantage of that innovation. Danielle Metz, deputy chief information officer for the information enterprise, told reporters on Monday the goal is to harness the success of those factories and “inculcate that into the DNA of the department.”

Today’s software factories serve as centralized teams that provide software development services to various program offices. Well-known hubs include the Air Force’s Kessel Run, the Navy’s Overmatch Software Armory and the Army’s Coding Resources and Transformation Ecosystem.

Metz and Pentagon Chief Software Officer Jason Weiss told reporters the department doesn’t necessarily want to make changes to how the factories operate, but instead wants to hear from those organizations about what policy changes and standardization might be most helpful.

Weiss said the department expects to gain efficiencies and cost savings by being more strategic about how the factories operate and ensuring any redundancies aren’t inhibiting economies of scale.

“If we can achieve that, then that allows the software factory ecosystem to continue to grow, but to operate with higher degrees of scale and precision without having to start from scratch at every point,” he said.

Beyond establishing an enterprise-wide development ecosystem, the strategy identifies two other goals: accelerating the DoD enterprise cloud environment and transforming processes to enable resilience and speed.

As part of the cloud acceleration focus, the strategy calls for an “innovative portfolio of cloud contracts” to offer better access to cloud services. It also emphasizes the need to secure data in the cloud and improve infrastructure outside the continental United States to ensure those installations can take advantage of cloud capabilities.

To improve its software development and acquisition processes, the department must reevaluate its policies and guidance to make sure they’re not overly restrictive and continue to support flexibility in the way it acquires and funds software, the strategy says.

A memo accompanying the strategy, signed by Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, says the department will develop an implementation plan over the next six months. A newly formed Software Modernization Senior Steering Group will coordinate and prioritize efforts under the strategy and will develop a yearly action plan. The group will also create a software capability portfolio to inform budget decisions and make sure efforts are integrated across DoD.

Courtney Albon is C4ISRNET's space and emerging technology reporter. She previously covered the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force for Inside Defense.

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