The Department of Defense (DoD) has announced that its Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office (CDAO) has achieved initial operational capability in accordance with a Dec. 8, 2021 memorandum that required the establishment of CDAO, and for the office to attain initial operating capability by Feb. 1.

DoD CIO John Sherman is serving as acting CDAO until a replacement is hired.

The Pentagon said CDAO and its supporting Office (OCDAO) will:

  • “Lead and oversee DoD’s strategy development and policy formulation for data, analytics, and AI;
  • Work to break down barriers to data and AI adoption within appropriate DoD institutional processes; and
  • Create enabling digital infrastructure and services that support Components’ development and deployment of data, analysis, AI and digital-enabled solutions.”

Further, CDAO will selectively scale proven digital and AI-enabled solutions for enterprise and joint use cases, as well as surge digital services for rapid response to crises and emerging challenges, according to a memo released by DoD.

“The CDAO will serve as a department senior official responsible for strengthening the integration of data analytics and digital solutions as well as AI functions across the department,” a senior DoD official said today during a press briefing. “The CDAO is going to perform these functions in close collaboration with the military services, Joint Staff CIO, our research and engineering undersecretary, and other digital leaders.”

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The senior official highlighted that the goal is for data, data analytics, and AI to enable faster and better decision making, and therefore provide a military advantage in conflicts.

“The top priority is to tap the unique strengths of the CDAO’s component organizations, while creating greater performance from the sum of their parts,” another senior official added. “We want the CDAO to be able to access their full range of authorities, talent and resources in a transparent and effective manner.”

The CDAO has a couple of big deadlines to hit in the coming months.

The office will conduct a review of authorities and governance structures associated with DoD data, analytics, and AI and provide recommendations by May 1. And by June 1, the Director of Administration and Management, in partnership with CDAO, will prepare a chartering directive for approval based on results of the review.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.