Michael Mestrovich, principal deputy chief information officer for the State Department, delivered his keynote address during Potomac Officers Club’s Secure IT Modernization in Today’s Environment Virtual Event on Wednesday, August 26th.
If you missed the event, you can still register to watch the footage in Potomac Officers Club’s Event Archive.
With the State Department, Mestrovich is responsible for managing all IT operations under the purview of the Bureau of Information Resource Management, including Information Assurance, Business Management and Planning, Operations and Foreign Operations.
“As you’ll hear from these leaders, you cannot pause IT modernization. In fact, the current pandemic has made IT modernization more critical. It has accelerated the need to improve access to applications from any location, and perform with more agility and reliability than ever before,” Afferton said.
Mestrovich began his address by discussing how the State Department IT infrastructure is postured. He stated that there are approximately 9.7 thousand OpenNet servers, 116 thousand workstations and 394 data centers, 40 thousand mobile devices and supports over 100 thousand users at 275 posts in 191 countries. The State Department has an IT budget of approximately $2.4B.
“Collaborative platforms have been the key enabler as the world has transitioned to telework. As we adopt telework, utilizing sharing platforms, I’ve personally seen productivity increase, but that comes at the expense of the individuals. They no longer take breaks because it’s so easy to transition from meeting to meeting through these platforms.”
Many of the IT modernization initiatives within the department were already discussed and in development, but COVID-19 accelerated adoption and progress. The State Department transitioned about 107 thousand employees to telework in the span of a week.
Mestrovich also added that the department enhanced GO Virtual (a remote access Virtual Desktop Infrastructure system) from 5 thousand to 15 thousand as well as enable the workforce to access the Department’s Office365 tenant via a browser from their home computers while utilizing multi-factor authentication (MFA)
The State Department has expanded a variety of remote access programs, including GO Mobile, GO Browser, GO Virtual and GO Desktop, as well as its collaborative platforms such as MS Teams and Webex.
In case you missed the event, click here to replay POC’s Secure IT Modernization in Today’s Environment Virtual Event.
Mestrovich then discussed which applications were already completed prior to the pandemic, and those that were in transition. Mestrovich said that the department’s cloud migration prior to COVID-19 was a “lynchpin” to the successful migration to telework.
The department also completed the enrollment process of all users to MFA in Dec. 2019, which assisted with identity verification during the transition of a virtual workforce.
“Had we not had this capability, we would have had to distribute a token reader to individual users for utilization on their device. While this is not a problematic approach, the logistics supply chains have been significantly impacted, so ordering and shipping new devices would have incurred significantly longer lead times,” Mestrovich said.
“Going forward we will do a deeper dive into using mobile devices to deploy information through mobile, readable platforms,” he added.
Moving forward, the State Department has several ongoing projects that will continue to modernize applications and virtual maneuverability, such as vaulting and time bounding all system administration access.
Mestrovich also noted that the department will expand its centralized machine analytics; single sign on, an identity access management system; continuous network scanning; admission control; and active directory re-design.
“Mike, it is really impressive. The way you compressed two to three years of initiatives into a few months is incredible, and I think we have seen that across many of our enterprises,” Afferton concluded.
Potomac Officers Club will host its 2020 Navy Forum on September 30th. Click here to register for the event. James Geurts, Assistant Secretary for Research, Development, and Acquisition with the U.S. Navy and 2020 Wash100 Award recipient will serve as a keynote speaker during the event.
Geurts will discuss how the U.S. Navy has continually worked to decentralize, differentialize and digitize the service branch’s work as well as develop its talent in the field.
The Navy has also accelerated acquisition channels, modernized emerging technologies and increased research and development to become more effective in warfare. As the Navy continues to evolve to meet the growing demands, challenges still remain.
Join Potomac Officers Club’s 2020 Navy Forum to hear notable industry and federal leaders discuss the initiatives, efficiencies and challenges the service branch faces as well as how to join together to improve the future of warfare.