Fort Belvoir Community Hospital is operated by the Defense Health Agency, one of the agencies that will be part of DISA’s network consolidation of the Pentagon’s “fourth estate.”

Feb 13 2020

DISA Makes Progress on ‘Fourth Estate’ Network Modernization

The Pentagon is streamlining the look and feel of desktop applications for DOD support agencies.

Roughly a fifth of the Defense Department’s mammoth budget is devoted to the “fourth estate,” the defense headquarters, support agencies and activities not inside the military departments. For more than a year, the Pentagon has been pushing to consolidate the networks for the fourth estate and is now making progress. 

The Defense Information Systems Agency, the DOD’s IT services arm, has been working on moving to a new, single-service network called DODNet. DISA has been shifting its own IT support services to the consolidated network and will spend the rest of the year moving the first agencies to it. 

The Defense Technical Information Center, which holds the collective research and engineering information for the DOD, will be the first of 14 agencies to migrate, David Bennett, the director of DISA’s operation center, said last month, according to FCW. The migration will occur by the end of the third quarter this year, according to Bennett. 

“We’re already maturing our existing networks, what we call DISANet, and we’re basically maturing it to become DODNet,” and so it can be extended to other fourth estate agencies, Bennett told reporters following the AFCEA DC DISA event on Jan. 16.

MORE FROM FEDTECH: Discover how the Defense Logistics Agency benefits from robotic process automation. 

DOD Aims to Standardize Apps for Fourth Estate

The DOD aims to save $170 million per year via the consolidation, as Federal News Network reports. The network consolidation and optimization is expected to take four years and is designed to “standardize the look, feel and implementation of common desktop applications but not mission applications,” FCW reports. 

The consolidated network is also expected to cut costs and cybersecurity risks, according to FCW, while streamlining implementation and encouraging agencies to use enterprisewide DOD capabilities, Bennett said. “We have basically trumped up the 20-some-odd defense agencies into groups in terms of which ones can we go quickest with versus which are the ones to push to the back end of the queue because of the size, complexity, as well as some of the unique aspects of activities that they do,” Bennett said. 

“We’re really trying to become that IT enabler for those agencies to move into a common way of doing things and into a common technical approach,” he said.

Tony Montemarano, the executive deputy director of DISA, said last May that that over the next decade, the agency will bring together the networks and commodity IT of the 14 defense agencies, including the Defense Logistics Agency, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the Defense Health Agency, according to Federal News Network. 

“We are taking the commodity IT of 13 other fourth estate organizations and bringing them together with DISA — not mission IT, but the desktops, the business applications — and trying to bring them together, the contracting and personnel,” he said.

Fort Belvoir Community Hospital/Flickr, Creative Commons