A year ago, lawmakers proposed eliminating the Defense Information Systems Agency, but softened the language in the final bill. But in an unexpected twist, the agency’s responsibilities have grown within the past year thanks in part to a Department of Defense-wide push to consolidate redundant IT.
The Fourth Estate Network Optimization is an IT reform effort that consolidates common IT services across the department and will now be managed by DISA as a single service provider, agency leaders said at the annual Forecast to Industry conference Nov. 4.
“Fourteen DoD agencies and field activities networks’ and the associated IT staff moved under the operational control of DISA,” Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, director of DISA, told the audience. “The network consolidation in transfer personnel will take place from FY20 to 24 and will improve the effectiveness of our cyber landscape across the enterprise.”
Officials told reporters at the conference that the IT reform increases DISA’s responsibilities and means the agency will maintain more items within the network. It is also expected to lead to significant savings throughout the department.
“What you’re really doing now is moving DISA’s responsibility, expanding it from the standpoint of starting at the strategic level, continue to operate strategic operations but now we’re basically at the end user level where in the past we basically would deliver capability to a point within the architecture and then it was somebody else’s job to carry it forward,” Dave Bennett, director of DISA’s operations directorate, told reporters. “Now we’re basically operating across the entire continuum. We’re not really at the tactical level but we’re definitely down in the end user arena, which significantly expands the roles and responsibilities.”
Norton also said this project allows other defense agencies to focus on their core mission, rather than worrying about IT.
Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.