The Department of Defense (DoD) released its enterprisewide data strategy yesterday, paving the way for use of data as a strategic asset across all component agencies.

The new strategy envisions DoD as a data-centric organization that will use data at speed and scale for operational advantage and increased efficiency. DoD wrote in the strategy that it plans to harness the power of data as a weapon system in support of both the National Defense Strategy and Digital Modernization plan.

“The Honorable Mr. Deasy gave me clear guidance to focus early efforts on data for joint warfighting,” Chief Data Officer Dave Spirk said in a statement. “The strategy’s emphasis will allow us to concentrate on that. It reinforces DoD’s priority focus areas of joint warfighting, senior leader decision support, and data analytics.”

Within those focus areas, the new DoD data strategy aims to use data for a battlefield advantage, to improve DoD management, and to drive informed decisions at all echelons. The goals of the data strategy follow DoD’s VAULTIS – visible, accessible, understandable, linked, trustworthy, interoperable, and secure – guide to build a data-centric organization and several guiding principles of data management, such as ethics and stewardship. DoD also lists architecture, standards, governance, and team and culture as the four essential capabilities of data necessary to meet DoD goals.

“The principal challenge in the Data Strategy isn’t getting data,” CIO Dana Deasy said of the effort, “the Department has access to vast data reserves, but we need to build the engine to turn this resource into insight for our service members at the speed of need. The Digital Modernization program is doing just that, via our investments in cloud, AI, C3 modernization, and cyber.”

DoD has been teasing its work on the data strategy for well over a year. In May 2019, former Chief Data Officer Michael Conlin said that the new strategy was based on “active, lively collaboration” between CDOs across the department as the leaders met on a biweekly basis to discuss DoD data management.

Across DoD, component agencies are now tasked with developing Data Strategy Implementation Plans overseen by the DoD Office of the CIO and the DoD Data Council. DoD is welcoming support from the data governance and user communities for continued partnership on data solutions.

“The responsibility of all DoD leaders is to treat data as a weapon system and manage, secure, and use data for operational effect,” Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist wrote in the introduction to the strategy.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.