DOD’s Shanahan to DCMO: establish a cloud-computing program

DOD’s Shanahan to DCMO: establish a cloud-computing program

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Justin Doubleday
January 08, 2018

Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan has tasked the Pentagon’s deputy chief management officer with leading the military’s adoption of cloud technologies by establishing a new program and budget line for the effort.

Based on feedback from the cloud executive steering group he established in September, Shanahan directs Jay Gibson to implement the initial acquisition strategy for accelerating the adoption of cloud technologies, according to a Jan. 8 memo provided to Inside Defense. Shanahan instructs Gibson to lead the implementation alongside the Pentagon’s cost assessment and program evaluation office, the chief information officer and the Defense Digital Service.

Gibson is expected to soon be named the Pentagon’s chief management officer, a position created by Congress in the latest defense authorization act.

Inside Defense reported last week that Gibson had replaced Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord as chair of the steering group, while CAPE and the CIO had been added as voting members, according to a Jan. 4 memo penned by Shanahan. That memo has since been “rescinded” and the Jan. 8 memo takes its place, according to a DOD spokesman.

Once elevated to CMO, Gibson will still lead the adoption of cloud technologies, the spokesman said.

The latest directive says phase one of the cloud-adoption effort “will leverage cloud technology to strengthen and streamline commercial operations within the department.” Gibson is instructed to “work with industry to ensure DOD is maximizing security, building clouds that can scale effectively to meet department demand, and developing common standards to minimize switching cost to take full advantage of vendor competition,” the memo continues.

To that end, Shanahan directs Gibson to establish a “Cloud Computing Program Manager” or CCPM. The program manager will report to Gibson, who is also authorized to “establish a budget line item and allocate an appropriate number of civilian and military billets to the CCPM based on mission need,” the memo states.

The memo appears to respond to concerns voiced by industry over the steering group’s plans to downselect to just one cloud services provider for the entire Defense Department. Industry associations argued that strategy was misguided and would lead to a limiting and costly situation of “cloud lock-in.”

Shanahan’s latest memo signals the initiative will begin with a less expansive push into the cloud.

“The initial cloud acquisition strategy will start small and employ an iterative process as the department explores how to leverage cloud technology to lower costs, improve performance and increase lethality,” the document states. “Additionally, this initiative will use existing systems, facilities and services for the DOD and other federal agencies when possible to avoid duplication and achieve maximum efficiency and economy.”

The second phase of the cloud adoption initiative will involve the DCMO and the CIO working with the services, the under secretary of defense for intelligence and Lord’s office “to build cloud strategies for requirements related to military operations and intelligence support,” the memo states.

“The department understands that applying cloud technology within the battlespace has unique challenges and opportunities and may require specialized technology investments,” it adds.

The memo, however, makes no mention of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure acquisition strategy. A Nov. 6 information paper on JEDI laid out a plan to move DOD to one cloud services provider, with a contract award planned for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2018. The information paper partly contributed to industry’s concerns over the cloud executive steering group’s approach.

Asked about the JEDI information paper, Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Patrick Evans told Inside Defense the steering group’s acquisition strategy “is executing and evolving in the midst of the significant reorganization” at DOD, including the disestablishment of Lord’s office, the establishment of a chief management officer “and other defense reform initiatives.” He said Shanahan’s latest memo reflects those organizational changes.

“As the department’s analysis and market research process continues, the JEDI cloud path forward will continue to evolve and mature as appropriate,” Evans wrote in a Jan. 8 email.

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