Justice Releases New IT Strategy with Detailed Initiatives

Published: May 09, 2019

Cloud ComputingCybersecurityInformation TechnologyInnovationDOJJustice and Public Safety

The Department of Justice issued a new IT Strategy Plan for FY 2019-2021, providing detail on the major IT initiatives that it hopes to pursue in the next few years.

The release of the Department of Justice’s IT Strategic Plan for FY 2019-2021 offers “a clear path forward for the Department to drive IT transformation.” Compared to its predecessor, the new plan provides pointed objectives with specific IT initiatives that it hopes to achieve in a two year duration versus three years. The new plan provides four of the same five goals as the previous plan, excluding a prime focus on workforce, though it acknowledges that a well-equipped workforce is necessary to achieving objectives. The four returning goals are centered on customer service, accountability in IT investments, innovation and information protection. How to achieve these goals is where the new plan greatly differs. AI, cloud, data analytics and mobility are the prominent themes throughout the document, with AI and cloud making strong appearances in the new strategy, compared to little or no mention in the previous plan. Specifically, the four goals are:

  1. Continuously Improve Service Delivery
  2. Effectively Invest in Technology
  3. Protect Critical Mission Assets
  4. Build Innovative Capabilities

The IT strategy plan provides each goal with a description, outcome and set of initiatives to help achieve the objectives.

Implementation of technology and collaboration efforts to improve service delivery

Justice outlines cloud computing technologies as the primary driver in achieving “high-performing, resilient, and efficient services” to support the mission. For example, the Justice Cloud-Optimized Trusted Internet Connection Service (JCOTS) is the agency’s automated service level scheme to help systems transition to the cloud, instilling numerous performing capabilities including, automated diagnosis and repair appliances, and detecting and remediating faults. The plan also provides the Email and Collaboration Services (ECS) program as another example of Justice’s efforts to migrate systems to the cloud over the next few years with expanded services such as videoconferencing and collaborative document sharing solutions.

AI and automation are also listed as driving forces to assist in efficient, effective and improved customer support services. Justice will seek to deploy AI/ML tools to “maximize human efficiency and rely on computer-assisted processes at critical decision points, such as with failover scenarios and workflows.” For instance, the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys plans to automate administrative functions while virtual assistive technology is anticipated to interact with customer requests on DOJ websites. Additionally, the FBI is automating manual forms for its Sentinel Case Management System and automating iris recognition capabilities in the NGI system.

Enhancements and refined processes to more effectively investment in technology

The IT strategy highlights DOJ’s Technical Reference Architecture (TRA) as the technology roadmap for the agency’s service offerings. Moreover, shared services and strategic sourcing strategies will continue to be utilized by the department for effective acquisition of technology. For example, the agency will move to “consumption and subscription-based models of IT contracting and monitoring instead of traditional capital expenditure models.” The plan also promises to utilize enterprise-wide, IDIQ contracts such as Information Technology Support Services (ITSS-5) and Enterprise Standard Architecture (ESA) IV, that provide flexible offerings to all DOJ components.

New and optimized cyber capabilities to protect critical mission assets

In addition to several new tools planned for Justice’s Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation efforts, the agency is seeking the “recovery, reconstitution, and continuity of operations for high value assets and mission essential systems.” To help achieve this, the JCOTS initiative provides both redundant, high-speed connections to the Internet as well as direct links to cloud providers for high speed accessibility. Furthermore, the ECS program’s use of cloud will allow for automatic failover and data synchronization capabilities. The strategy also promises to pursue increased network capacity and high-speed access to Core Enterprise Facilities and cloud services.

In terms of the Justice Security Operations Center (JSOC), the plan outlines efforts by the agency to integrate multiple SOCs across DOJ components, allowing for “cyber hunt operations, incident detection, forensic analysis, and defensive actions to be more closely coordinated between teams and to reduce response times.”

For increased identity, credential, and access management services, the agency has deployed a centralized, enterprise digital identity for users to allow for the safe sharing of information among eligible DOJ users and mission partners. The agency will also instill an enterprise privileged access manager to modernize its authentication process.

Applying technology innovation to build capabilities that drive mission preparedness

The plan lists several projects already underway which utilize emerging technologies to enhance mission effectiveness, including:

  • Fingerprint matching and biometrics at the FBI to quickly identify individuals
  • Robotic and drone technologies to help FBI field agents at crime scenes and investigations
  • Contraband interdiction to help those at BOP closely monitor inmate activity
  • Advanced cloud technology at BOP, including implementation of a micro-services architecture and the use of horizontal and vertical auto-scaling

With the release of the new IT strategy, the Justice Department envisions overarching outcomes of resiliency, connection and security, hoping to achieve the plan’s vision to “Drive IT solutions at the pace of American innovation. By being brilliant at the basics, while driving agility into DOJ service delivery, we bring innovation to our customers.”