The headquarters of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Dec 07 2021

DoDIIS 2021: Intelligence Community to Revamp Common Approach to IT

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is poised to release a revised strategy for the intelligence community’s common IT platform.

The U.S. intelligence community is close to releasing a revised strategy for its Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise initiative. The program, known as ICITE, will focus on four key goals: a mission-driven enterprise, security, interoperability and supporting the deployment of emerging technology.

ICITE has evolved over the past decade from a platform of shared services among intelligence agencies (a model of “do in common what is commonly done”) to a reference architecture that provides an interoperable approach to IT while giving agencies flexibility to deploy unique tools and technologies suitable to their mission needs.

Speaking during the 2021 DoDIIS Worldwide Conference in Phoenix, Michael Castelli, director of mission and resources in the office of the CIO of the intelligence community at ODNI, said that the revised strategy provides essential guidance to intelligence agencies and their partners to “continue to develop and implement an IT enterprise” that agencies can use to complete their missions.

While not a radical reimaging of ICITE, it does reflect the desire of Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines for the nation’s 18 intelligence agencies to “work together and really lay out a common picture” for decision-makers, as she said in March.

The new strategy, Castelli said, encourages large and small intelligence agencies to work together and with industry, academia and allies to use technology so that they can be as effective as possible.

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Intelligence Community Takes a New Approach to Interoperability

The ODNI received input from across the intelligence community and Defense Department in crafting the revised strategy, according to Castelli, with feedback coming from CIOs, chief data officers, CIOs and officials who deal with budgets and acquisition.

The overarching goal is still to support an “adaptive, integrated intelligence enterprise,” but one that allows each intelligence agency to implement the strategy to fit its unique mission needs, Castelli said.

The primary goal of the strategy is to enable a mission-driven enterprise. What that means in practice is deploying technology that can scale to agencies’ operational demands, finding efficiencies in business and acquisition practices across the intelligence community and adopting more shared services.

The strategy recognizes the need to shift away from agency-centric IT solutions and promote ICITE services as the service of choice across the community. “People need to accept that they can use tools they didn’t build,” Castelli said.

Overall, the strategy aims to ensure that people, processes and technology are positioned to respond to the speed of mission.

The second goal of the revised strategy is security, without which intelligence agencies would fail at their missions, Castelli noted. The strategy envisions more information and threat intelligence sharing among intelligence agencies so that all can achieve a baseline risk posture. Another element related to security is the ability to “rapidly identify and coordinate responses to nefarious activities across organizations and network boundaries,” Castelli said.

Michael Castelli, director of mission and resources in the office of the CIO of the intelligence community at ODNI, speaking at the 2021 DoDIIS Worldwide conference.

Michael Castelli, director of mission and resources in the office of the CIO of the intelligence community at ODNI, speaking at the 2021 DoDIIS Worldwide conference. Photo by Phil Goldstein

The ICITE strategy calls for implementation of zero-trust architecture to ensure that data is “only seen by those who are authorized to see it, no matter where they are,” Castelli added.

The third goal is interoperability — across agencies, security fabrics, clouds and different forms of intelligence collection. The IT environment has grown far more complex than it was a decade ago, Castelli noted, meaning intelligence agencies need to work together more to make data and capabilities available wherever they are needed.

The intelligence community is moving to a multicloud environment and is working with the major cloud service providers involved in the program — to Amazon Web ServicesMicrosoftGoogleIBM and Oracle — to solicit their technical concerns related to interoperability and then share that information back so that there can be productive conversations about how to overcome those challenges.

The fourth goal is the deployment of emerging technology to enhance mission execution. This is not “new technology for the sake of new technology” Castelli said; instead, it’s about purposefully innovating and integrating new technology to serve as a force multiplier for intelligence agency workers.

MORE FROM FEDTECH: How is the CIA driving R&D innovation?

That means using technologies developed in-house and from private sector companies. The intelligence community also needs an accelerated and flexible acquisition process to deploy new technologies more quickly, he said. The strategy calls for the rapid resolution of security vulnerabilities through automation and tech refresh, or retiring legacy IT in favor of emerging technologies.

Success, Castelli said, will be measured by whether the intelligence community is more interoperable and more secure, gets data to users at the network edge and uses technology to drive toward mission success.

Follow FedTech coverage for more articles from DoDIIS 2021.

Photo by ODNI/Facebook

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