Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What is the role of the DoD CIO?

Answer: The DoD CIO reports to the Secretary of Defense, and serves as the senior civilian advisor for information technology, responsible for all matters relating to the DoD information enterprise. This includes serving as the principle advisor for matters regarding information management/information technology; cybersecurity; satellite communications; positioning, navigation and timing; spectrum; and nuclear command, control, and communications.

This organization is focused on ensuring that warfighters have the right IT/Cyber, secure communications equipment, and capabilities that they need to execute the missions given to the greatest fighting force in the world. DoD CIO is driving cultural, business, and technical innovation at the Department by better integrating its IT infrastructure, improving alignment and business processes, and supporting agile and innovative IT acquisition. This will help change how DoD can use IT, enabling end users to support their missions in new, and improved ways, whatever the mission requires, from the desk to the desert. (Summer 2015)

Question: Who is in DoD’s IT user base?

Answer: The Department of Defense has over 1.4 million active-duty men and women, 718,000 civilians, and 1.1 million National Guard and Reserve members. The Department has several hundred thousand buildings and structures located in more than 5,000 different locations or sites, and four million computers on our unclassified networks alone – by DoD’s numbers, this is probably the world’s biggest enterprise network. (Summer 2015)

Question: What is in the Department’s IT budget?

Answer: DoD’s fiscal year 2015 IT budget was nearly $35.9 billion - $30 billion in unclassified IT investments and the rest in classified IT investments. The Department’s 2016 IT budget request included $36.9 billion. This request funds a wide variety of IT, including DoD warfighting, command, control, and communications systems; computing services; cybersecurity; enterprise services, like e-mail; and intelligence and business systems. And these investments support mission critical operations across battlefield and office environments. (Summer 2015)

Question: What is DISA?

Answer: The Defense Information Systems Agency, headquartered at Fort Meade, MD, reports to the DoD CIO. This agency provides IT and communications support to national leaders, the military services, the combatant commands, and any individual or system contributing to the defense of the United States. It employs more than six thousand civilians and about 1,500 military officers and enlisted personnel. (Summer 2015)

For more information about DISA, please click here.

Question: Why is DoD moving to the cloud?

Answer: Cloud computing plays a critical role in the Department’s IT modernization efforts. DoD’s key objective is to deliver a cost efficient, secure, and effective enterprise that can readily adapt to the Department’s mission needs. The cloud is integral to these IT modernization efforts, because they involve a robust IT capability built on an integrated set of cloud services supported by both commercial providers and DoD Components. DoD will use a hybrid approach to cloud that takes advantage of all types of cloud solutions to get the best combination of mission effectiveness and efficiency. (Summer 2015)

Question: How can DoD’s contractors improve their cybersecurity?

Answer: DoD partners with industry through the Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity/Information Assurance (DIB CS/IA) program. This is a voluntary public-private information sharing program that creates a trusted relationship in which DoD and DIB participants share cyber threat information, identify vulnerabilities, and improve network defense. More than 100 defense contractors participate in the DIB CS/IA program. (Summer 2015)

For more information on the DIB CS/IA program, please click here.

Question: What is the Joint Information Environment? Why is it important?

Answer: The Joint Information Environment is the largest IT modernization effort in DoD’s history. It is a concept, not a device or program, that will bring DoD to a more secure, lower-cost IT environment by centralizing and updating networks, IT, and communication. The end result is a capability focused on moving the Department towards an enterprise-wide, standards driven, protected computing environment that proactively supports its mission and services. The ultimate goal of JIE is to resolves barriers to trusted information sharing, collaboration, and interoperability across DoD and with non-DoD mission partners; to enhance security against cyber threats and vulnerabilities; and to reduce IT infrastructure and related costs. It will simplify, standardize, consolidate, and automate DoD’s IT infrastructure. (Summer 2015)

Question: What are the Joint Regional Security Stacks?

Answer: Joint Regional Security Stacks are regionally based, centrally managed racks of servers, switches, and other appliances that will replace the Department’s current set of separate, individualized, localized Service and Agency security systems. It is the top priority to enable the Joint Information Environment, and, when completed, will provide a less costly, more secure, and more efficient environment with improved command and control capabilities. (Summer 2015)

Question: How is DoD integrating mobile solutions?

Answer: DoD CIO is integrating mobile technologies and networks across the Department, facilitating increased mobility for our data and people. DoD is testing ways to make more applications and services mobile friendly, while maintaining appropriate levels of security. A “Bring Your Own Device” pilot that is anticipated for winter of 2015, will help the Department understand when or how the workforce may be able to access the Department’s networks and systems on their own mobile device. DoD CIO is also spearheading an effort to install both user and guest unclassified wireless networks across the Pentagon. (Summer 2015)

Question: How is DoD evolving its spectrum usage?

Answer: Driven by the need to maintain a technological edge over potential adversaries, DoD is enabling improved spectrum access through increased flexibility, better partnerships, and technology innovation. DoD is focused on more effective and efficient spectrum use, while ensuring national security capabilities are preserved. DoD is working closely with federal partners and wireless industry stakeholders to evaluate and identify ways to share spectrum with commercial users, when possible, consistent with the goals laid out in the DoD Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS) Strategy, as part of a range of new initiatives, starting with the Strategy itself.

  • The EMS Strategy lays out 3 goals: (1) To expedite the development of spectrum-dependent system capabilities with increased efficiency, flexibility and adaptability; (2) To increase the agility of DoD operations; and, (3) To sharpen responsiveness to ongoing spectrum regulatory and policy changes.
  • DoD is leading the National Advanced Spectrum and Communications Test Network (NASCTN), under the auspices of the Commerce Department, as a focal point for accelerating the development and deployment of sharing technologies that increase both Federal and commercial spectrum access. The intent is to create an environment of trust to support impartial testing and evaluation of sharing technologies and balanced policy decisions driven by scientifically sound tests and evaluations.
  • The National Spectrum Consortium underscores how DoD is turning to new ways of fostering technology innovation based on trust, partnerships and sound engineering. This collaboration is focused on maturing technologies that assist in improved spectrum flexibility, sharing and use.
  • In coordination with the Consortium, the Spectrum Access R&D Program (SARDP) lays out a process for development and implementation of innovative spectrum sharing technologies to improve DoD’s EMS operational effectiveness and ability to share spectrum. DoD also has created a governance structure for oversight of the program.
  • DoD is working with other spectrum stakeholders to advance bi-directional sharing as a policy area that shows promise with regard to Federal access to non-Federal bands on a shared basis, in addition to non-Federal access to Federal spectrum. DoD envisions a framework to expand the boundaries of sharing.
  • DoD has been part of an ongoing collaboration with policymakers and industry to determine ways to engineer equitable sharing solutions with commercial broadband users, when and where possible. Recent examples include the FCC rules for a Citizens Broadband Radio Service in the 3550-3650 MHz band and the success of the FCC’s AWS-3 auction ($44.9B), which point to important lessons learned about the benefits of trust-building, partnership and information exchange.