Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

Defense Department implements new data strategy

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The U.S. Department of Defense released its new data strategy in September to make it easier for warfighters and decision-makers to access the data they need to do their jobs.

“This strategy is for warfighters and decision-makers,” David Spirk said on Oct. 28 at the National Defense Industrial Association. “It’s 100 percent focused on improving the speed and execution of decisions — to support informed decision making, to improve situational awareness and knowledge at every level, to improve our ability to anticipate events and resource needs before they were known.”

The DOD’s new data strategy is focused on standardizing how data is collected, categorized, tagged, and distributed. Specifically, it sets goals for the department to build a data environment that makes it easy for would-be users to find and access data. Further, the data must also be adequately described in language that is standardized across the department.

The DoD Data Strategy has eight guiding principles: data is a strategic asset; collective data stewardship; data ethics; data collection; enterprise-wide data access and availability; data for artificial intelligence training; data fit for purpose; and design for compliance.

The strategy is also focused on making sure the data is trustworthy. It calls for the development of standards to ensure that when users get data, it is always accompanied by standardized information that clarifies where that data came from. The DOD points out that the strategy demands several changes across the department among those who collect, generate, and maintain data.

One recommended solution to facilitate the effort is to create chief data officer positions, where appropriate, to ensure the data strategy is being implemented. It is also important to build relationships and trust between agencies so that data can move to where it needs to be more efficiently.

“The measure of our success is going to be a recognizably faster warfighting operation tempo,” Spirk said. “This will be achieved by treating data as a weapon system, effective partnerships, and a collective focus. And when I say weapon system, I mean we need to think of the data ecosystem as the weapon system that fires the data and ensures it’s available to our warfighters at the time and place they need it before they realize that they did.”