What's Next? Intelligence Community IT Day RECAP

Published: March 11, 2019


AFCEA held its first Intelligence Community IT Day on February 28, 2019.  The U.S. Government's Intel Agencies discussed some of their top solution priorities relating to Cloud, Cyber, Information Assurance, Robotics Process Automation technologies.

The panels included the following speakers:

  • John Sherman, CIO of the Intelligence Community, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
  • Ellen E. McCarthy, Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, State Department 
  • Dr. Darin Johnson, Computer Systems Researcher, National Security Agency
  • Susan W. Kalweit, Director of the Analysis Directorate, NGA
  • Jason Miller, Federal News Network
  • Gordon Bitko, CIO, FBI
  • David Bottom, CIO, Intelligence & Analysis Office, DHS
  • Karl S. Mathias, CIO and Assistant Director, U.S. Marshals Service
  • Jerry Cronin, Cyber Chief Information Security Officer USTRANSCOM
  • Diana Parr, Strategist for Cybersecurity Operations, NSA
  • Jean H. Schaffer, CISO & Chief, Cyber and Enterprise Ops, DIA
  • Colonel Patrick C. Williams, Commander, 2d Weather Group, 557th Weather Wing, USAF
  • Edward Burrows, Robotic Process Automation Program Manager, GSA
  • Christine Gex, Innovation and RPA Lead, DASA-FIM
  • Steven J. Strandberg, Manager - Digital Finance & Strategy, Verizon Enterprise Solutions - Digital Finance Acceleration Office (DFAO)
  • Erica Thomas, OUSD Comptroller, RPA and Contract Pay Lead, OSD

John Sherman, CIO of the Intelligence Community, delivered the Opening Keynote address for this event stressing the importance of intelligence integration, transparency, and innovation as key goals.  IC Information Technology Enterprise (IC ITE), a six year IT modernization effort for the Intelligence Community, represents one of the key efforts of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in achieving its mission of intelligence integration.  Sherman discussed the importance of continuing modernization efforts to stay ahead of our adversaries.  Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning represents a key component to this modernization.

Ellen McCarthy with the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) discussed Intelligence Driven IT Priorities.  With under 300 personnel, INR is one of the most productive all source intelligence offices as well as one of the oldest performing independent analysis to support foreign policy.  Currently, one of the Bureau's main goals is to achieve intelligence at the speed of news. McCarthy indicated that although the Bureau's analysts are unrivaled subject matter experts on their countries or coverage areas, there is an increasing need for technologists to support its mission.

Susan Kalweit with the NGA and Darin Johnson with the NSA led the Automated Intelligence Panel.  Kalweit discussed the Human Machine Team and the utilization of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) to take over roles currently performed by analysts to free up time to focus on other areas of research.  An emphasis on learning and additional training in areas like AI/ML was cited as a key to success in achieving mission goals.

CIOs from the USMS, FBI, and DHS comprised the "Ask the CIO Live" Keynote Panel.  Karl Mathias (USMS CIO) explained the agency's primary responsibilities include capturing fugitives as well as the transportation of prisoners.  Modernization efforts include mobile platforms to aid in identify management.  Mathias stated they are in the process of re-organizing with the addition of a new CTO who is currently developing a technology roadmap.  Gordon Bitko (FBI CIO) discussed the fact that we live in a data driven world.  Since the Boston bombing to the Las Vegas shooting FBI agents/analysts had 20 times the amount of data to go through.  Data modernization, improving understanding/digital literacy, leveraging Cloud Smart technologies are key areas of development in addressing the exponential growth in data.  For DHS, developing their mobile strategy and cloud migration are areas of focus.

The Cyber Deterrence and Cyber Threats Panel included Jerry Cronin (USTRANSCOM), Diana Parr (NSA), Jean Schaffer (DIA), and Col Patrick Williams (USAF).  Cronin explained that 90% of transportation support of military operations comes from commercial companies and discussed the challenges of addressing cybersecurity requirements associated with these contracts.  Parr addressed cyber threats we are facing from Russia, Iran, North Korea and Iran and the importance of signals intelligence and information assurance in combating these threats. Schaffer indicated there is a lack of cybersecurity skills in their workforce and the importance of training.  Williams discussed the role of the 2d Weather Group and its support to both government agencies and international organizations (i.e. NATO) in providing weather data.  Williams explained how this data is utilized for planning purposes associated with operations as timing can play a crucial role.  In an effort to secure this data, Mission Defense Teams are in place to stave off hackers.  

The final panel of the day covered Robotic Process Automation and consisted of Ed Burrows (GSA), Christine Gex (Army), Steven Strandberg (Verizon Enterprise Solutions), and Erica Thomas (OSD).  Burrows served as the moderator for this panel.  The goal of Robotic Process Automation is to automate routine tasks freeing up resources to focus on high-value tasks.  RPA is currently only being applied to back office duties, however the next phase will be more customer facing.  RPA has a very good return on investment as bots are considerably cheaper than traditional IT services.  Additionally, with manual processes you are dealing with a percentage of error.  This is eliminated with the use of bots.  One of the keys to success discussed when it comes to implementing RPA is the importance of partnering with the CIO shops and getting leadership support.