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DOD CDO Working on ‘Data Decrees’ Amid New Data Strategy

New strategies will focus on making data a strategic asset to the military.

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The Defense Department is moving steadfast on its data strategy and is working on new data standards to be released over the next few months, according to Chief Data Officer David Spirk.

DOD released its data strategy in October 2020 to make data a strategic asset to the military.

“A core tenet of the DOD data strategy is the understanding that data is not an IT asset, but an essential and integral part of the mission itself,” the strategy said.

At a media event this week, Spirk outlined DOD’s data readiness via six defining features: accessible, understandable, visible, linkable, interoperable and secure. Spirk and his team established guiding principles to drive data-informed decision-making at the “speed of compute,” he said.

“Not only are we on track, but the expectation is that we will accelerate,” Spirk said. By 2022, Spirk’s team is charged with integrating strategies across DOD to deliver new capabilities. One of those is a plan to subsidize current capabilities to help combatant commands access data programs.

“We want to get them into the hands of operators and decision-makers so that we can understand what works, what doesn’t, and then continue tailoring with a real CI/CD pipeline with the best commercial vendors to use those modern data management platforms to drive effect,” Spirk added.

Spirk, alongside Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, is working on “data decrees,” which will outline how the department leverages data.

“We don’t plan to develop one data standard to rule them all. That is exactly how we’ve gotten to where we are, with a ton of data debt, because we’ve tried to over-model one thing, which always trails industry and will always cause proprietary block,” Spirk said. “We want an open data standard architecture, so that when any new industry capability comes in, we can swim to it.”

To integrate these new standards across the department, communication and collaboration are critical, Spirk said. The DOD Data Council, which was established in the data strategy, brings together data leaders to define priorities and establish best practices across the Joint All Domain Operations, senior leader decisions support and business analytics.

“Data leaders in the department want to connect with each other and are willing to join in to help us move the needle,” Spirk said.

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