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DOD Deputy CIO’s Tech, Cyber Priorities for 2024

Leslie Beavers outlines how her office is enabling innovation for key efforts including zero trust, 5G connectivity, cloud and more.

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DOD Principal Deputy CIO Leslie Beavers
DOD Principal Deputy CIO Leslie Beavers speaks at the Feb. 9 Defense IT Summit in Arlington, Va. Photo Credit: Capitol Events Photography

Defense Department Principal Deputy CIO Leslie Beavers is honing in this year on four critical areas driving developments around cloud, cybersecurity, customer experience and wireless connectivity.

“Modernization and cybersecurity are really foundational to how we, as a nation, and as a Defense Department are getting after — modernizing and securing organization,” she told attendees at the Defense IT Summit Friday.

Beavers noted the importance of cybersecurity threats for not only the department, but also society.

“We as a nation are facing a threat that is unprecedented,” Beavers said with regard to ongoing threats from Chinese-state actors. “The threat isn’t just to the government. It’s not just to the military. It’s not just to Wall Street. … It’s a threat to each and every citizen and person living in the United States.”

Part of the department’s cybersecurity journey includes a move to zero trust architecture by 2027. The department is currently undergoing implementation plans submitted from the services. Moving forward with the plan is dependent on funding, she noted.

“We are committed to get there by 2027 because that’s not a department-set objective, that’s an adversary-response objective, so we can’t really have afford to have it slip,” she added.

Beavers also is thinking about the next phase of the Joint Warfighting Capability Cloud (JWCC) contract and how to deliver cloud services needed for combatant command missions.

“We’re trying to really get the right compute and capacity out into those more remote environments,” she said, citing developments in hybrid cloud.

Beavers’ office also recently took over 5G deployment efforts to deploy the wireless capability across military bases globally by 2028.

“We’ve got to prioritize getting a robust and resilient communications architecture that’s land based, space based, air based,” she said.

Her office also recently launched its new Chief Customer Experience Office to develop processes for capturing user feedback and implementing solutions with a human-centered design approach.

“I think of it from beyond just having more modern IT equipment. I think it from a functionality perspective, from a scalability perspective, from a sustainability perspective,” she added.

Overall, Beavers sees the office as the enabler for continued innovation throughout DOD.

“Innovative ideas — I see them come in from our allies and partners. … I see them come in from our warfighters,” she said. “I need to institutionalize innovation.”

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