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Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise: building on the visions of our predecessors

By Christopher Van Dam Defense Intelligence Agency

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Day two of the Department of Defense Intelligence Information System Worldwide Conference started with an update to the ongoing modernization efforts of the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise, Aug. 19, 2019, in Tampa, Florida. 

John Sherman, Chief Information Officer of the Intelligence Community, praised the groundbreaking leadership of previous leaders, specifically the work of former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Sue Gordon and her fellow deputies, and the technologic foundation they established that IC ITE is building on in its second phase of development. 

“We’d be derelict in our duties if we just let our predecessors’ work ride for the coming years,” said Sherman, adding that after learning lessons and understanding many dynamics, changing the operating model is a case of “needing to evolve or losing the relevance and applicability of what we built.”

Sherman explained the way ahead and laid out main priorities of the second epoch of IC ITE. Priorities include:
- Architecting a federated interoperable enterprise
- Building on world-class computing with cloud and other capabilities
- Unlocking the power of the IC’s data
- Strengthening cybersecurity posture

“These are not just aspirational goals, but tasks on which we’re moving out aggressively,” said Sherman. “While they are our main efforts, they’re not the totality of efforts across the information environment.”

Other IC ITE efforts according to Sherman include:
- Increased interoperability with allied partners
- Establishing enterprise-level agreements with industry partners
- Improved technology to support employees with disabilities
- Improved relationships with congressional overseers 

Sherman explained that the ‘’how” of making IC ITE second epoch successful is solidarity. 

“Plain and simple, the secret sauce in all this has been teamwork among the IC agencies,” said Sherman. “And none of this would be possible without each organization leaning in and providing some type of service or expertise.” 

In addition to interagency cooperation, the PDDNI and IC CIO have driven IC ITE modernization through collaborative, intensive oversight and routine program reviews. The program review process was recently renamed Melissa Drisko Reviews, or MDRs, in honor of the former DIA Deputy Director who, according to Sherman, consistently demonstrated the highest levels of programmatic oversight and rigor. 

Sherman added, “We always aspire to provide the same level of excellence that Melissa would expect for us in such an important set of IC ITE activities.”