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.
As the Navy continues to evolve to meet the growing demands, challenges still remain. During GovConWire’s Navy: IT Transformation Forum, notable industry and federal leaders will discuss the latest initiatives, efficiencies and challenges the service branch faces.
The forum will feature Aaron Weis, chief information officer at the Department of the Navy and 2021 Wash100 Award recipient, as the keynote speaker. He will address the influence of emerging technologies, upcoming budgets and funding, and cybersecurity initiatives that will enable the Navy to become more effective in warfare.
Ast the Navy’s CIO, Weis is the principal staff assistant to the secretary of the Navy for information management, digital, data and cyber strategy.
He is also responsible for reviewing the DON budget proposal for Information Technology (IT) and National Security System (NSS) expenditures and investments and certifying whether it adequately addresses concerns from enterprise efficiency and cybersecurity perspectives.
Throughout 2020, Weis has spearheaded several initiatives to advance progress across the U.S. Navy. In June 2020, Weis outlined two areas where the service branch will work to strengthen its cybersecurity posture and one of those is from a “defend” perspective.
He cited the need to change the service’s perspective on cyber defense. “I talk a lot about moving from this culture of security by compliance to a culture where we have security as a constant state of readiness, where we’re always assessing our own readiness from a cybersecurity perspective,” Weis added.
He commented on the Navy’s complete reassessment of its risk management framework. “They’re refining and returning RMF to be more responsive to reflect the current state and to be able to be a more consistent indicator of risk management versus the one and done,” he said of the Navy.
Weis also offered updates on the service’s identity management pilot in conjunction with the Navy’s Enterprise Resource Planning system as well as on software-defined networking initiative and logistics effort, particularly the log IT systems portfolio.
Later, in Oct. 2020, Weis announced the Navy’s plans to transition to a zero trust framework. The transition would enable the service branch to better protect and defend networks from cyber threats.
“It is an exciting time as priorities have shifted,” for how the Navy has advanced its information technology modernization efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, Weis said.
He added that the service will need time to reorganize its networks as it adopts the zero trust model and that the “defense in depth” model, or building perimeter-based cyber defenses, will continue to exist as the Navy begins the transition.
“That is something that is starting, but it won’t happen overnight,” Weis said of the move to zero trust. Additionally, the Navy will also transition away from a Microsoft-built collaboration tool temporarily deployed for telework operations.
Weis said that the service plans to implement a Microsoft Office 365 enterprise platform that includes the company’s Teams offering as the Department of Defense (DOD) prepares to discontinue the Teams-based Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR) environment in June 2021.
Office 365, which includes document-sharing and telephony tools, is expected to replace the CVR platform currently supporting around 200,000 DOD users.
“As we move to this new environment which will enable these capabilities, we will obsolete that legacy infrastructure, and there is goodness to be gained there from a cybersecurity perspective, from an operational perspective, from a cost perspective,” said Weis.
During GovConWire’s Navy: IT Transformation Forum, Weis will further explain the initiatives within the U.S. Navy, modernization priorities, emerging technologies and partnerships with the industry that will enable the service branch to compete in the future digital landscape.