OSD gets new IT directorate, own CIO after study found ‘degradation’ of services

Acting DoD Deputy CIO for Information Takes Part in Virtual Event

Acting Department of Defense Deputy Chief Information Officer for Information Enterprise Danielle Metz discusses “Delivering Better Software Faster to the Warfighter,” the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Jan. 27, 2021. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

WASHINGTON — The Office of the Secretary of Defense is getting its own chief information officer, who will lead a new directorate to oversee its information technology services, part of Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks’s broader Pentagon IT modernization push.

“Our OSD senior leaders and workforce must have access to a modern digital experience in providing their advice to the Secretary in conducting the business of this Department,” Hicks wrote in a Sept. 30 memo published online.

The need for an OSD CIO became apparent after a study commissioned by Director of Administration and Management (DA&M) Michael Donley “found that the absence of an OSD CIO resulted in a degradation of OSD IT services, largely from the lack of a collaborative enterprise approach, a cohesive vision, and resources,” according to a DoD fact sheet provided to Breaking Defense. The study ran from April to July this year and produced several recommendations.

According to the fact sheet, Danielle Metz, who formerly served as the chief IT strategist in the DoD CIO office, will lead the new Information Management and Technology (IM&T) directorate and serve as OSD CIO within that office. 

The IM&T directorate itself was established in response to an immediate need for a “cohesive, strategic” approach to IT management across the OSD enterprise and will advocate for OSD information technology, according to the fact sheet. 

The fact sheet lays out specific duties for the new directorate, using a “phased approach” to meet that vision:

  • transitioning the OSD IT delivery model from service provider-led to customer-led by implementing governance to drive customer requirements
  • establishing a “single OSD voice” through an OST IT Enterprise Strategy
  • reducing IT management burden on component organizations
  • creating a decision environment using performance-driven IT, leveraging data for information advantage;
  • improving overall user experience by strengthening mechanisms for monitoring and feedback

In announcing the directorate Thursday, the Pentagon said its “initial focus” would be on making a framework for integrating IT services across OSD, “developing an OSD IT resource requirements baseline,” and coming to an agreement with the DoD’s Joint Service Provider for “shared service support.”

On Sept. 30, Hicks signed the “Modernizing the Digital Experience in the Office of the Secretary of Defense” memorandum, which called for better oversight of OSD IT resources, driven in part by the recent demand for remote work options and the general advancement of IT technology.

The assignment of Metz to the CIO position appears to have been a development after the memo was written in late September, which notes that the DA&M, i.e. Donley, would fill the role of CIO as well as senior official responsible for the directorate. Among the duties for the position:

  • lead engagement between OSD Components and IT service providers
  • develop and advocate for application and system modernization
  • serve as the cyber risk manager for cybersecurity-related issues in OSD
  • provide progress updates and develop recommendations through the OSD Management Forum
  • implement the policies of the CIO of the Department of Defense, the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Officer, and other senior officials for the OSD IT Enterprise

The new memo also requires an “implementation plan” within 60 days that will “describe the key actions and phases supporting the orderly initiation and focused execution of an effective, efficient, and enhanced OSD IT Enterprise.”

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