A Data Decrees memo signed by Defense Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks set the five Department of Defense (DoD) priorities for how it should use data, and a pair of Chief Data Officers (CDO) said this memo has helped enable change by codifying the importance of data inside the Pentagon.

Thom Kenney and Tom Sasala, CDOs at the U.S. Special Operations Command and Navy, respectively, spoke about how this data decree figures into DoD’s data future today at Splunk’s GovSummit webinar.

“One of the most important aspects of this memo is that we’ve actually codified how important it is to the Department of Defense, and the way the memo was constructed was about data advantage,” Kenney said.

Kenney said a key to leveraging data inside the department is to look at data as an enabler, and not just a tool that is there because it seems important.

“In the civilian sector we talked about moving it from being a cost central to a profit enabler,” Kenney said. “And this memo is kind of doing exactly that. It’s talking about just how important data is not because data is important, but it’s important to be an advantage for us in the greater landscape of the DoD.”

The five data decrees are:

  1. “Maximizing data sharing and rights for data use: all DoD data is an enterprise resource;
  2. Publish data assets in the DoD federated data catalog along with common interface specifications;
  3. Use automated data interfaces that are externally accessible and machine-readable, ensure interfaces use industry-standard, non-proprietary, preferably open-source, technologies, protocols, and payloads;
  4. Store data in a manner that is platform and environment-agnostic, uncoupled from hardware or software dependencies; and
  5. Implement industry best practices for secure authentication access management, encryption, monitoring, and protection of data at rest, in transit, and in use.”

Sasala said these decrees are taken right from the data strategy and really put data at the center of operations, which he said represents a pivot from prior beliefs.

“What makes this memo … different or a little inflection point or a pivot point for the Department of Defense, is it moves us into data centricity,” Sasala said. “So, away from our classic sort of network centricity or system centricity that we’ve had for a long, long time.”

“We are pivoting away from the network and pivoting away from the systems and focusing on is how do we use the data itself to drive decisions and to create operational advantage right,” Sasala continued. “That is all fundamental tectonic change in the way that we’re looking at data.”

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.