The Potomac Officers Club’s Air Force IT Modernization and Digital Transformation Forum on Wednesday brought together prominent U.S. Air Force and industry officials to discuss the service branch’s crucial modernization initiatives including transitioning legacy infrastructures, enhancing interoperability and bolstering cybersecurity to match the pace of rapid digital developments in the defense sector.
Department of the Air Force deputy CIO Winston Beauchamp served as the forum’s opening keynote speaker to detail the opportunities, achievements and obstacles surrounding the Air Force’s enterprise information technology modernization initiatives. The program then proceeded to an expert panel, moderated by Jim Huso, which featured Air Force leaders Dr. Joe Besselman, Colonel Justin Collins and Brian Kropa, as well as Peraton’s Chris Painter and Manish Parikh of CACI.
Following the panel, Jay Bonci, chief technology officer for the Department of the Air Force, took to the virtual platform to deliver a closing keynote address during which he detailed the core tenets driving the Air Force’s enterprise IT strategies and explained how the service branch is adopting a flexible, agile approach for navigating the future and remaining resilient in the face of uncertainty.
If you missed Wednesday’s event, please visit PotomacOfficersClub.com to watch the full AF IT Modernization and Digital Transformation Forum and other GovCon events on-demand now.
Bonci began his keynote speech by describing the Department of the Air Force as “unique creatures in the military space,” and by providing attendees with an overview of the challenges the DAF faces as an “enterprise of enterprises” in unifying multiple disparate efforts operating at different levels.
“We’re a collection of services that are fielded in different places, they are funded in different ways and they have different business models internally,” Bonci shared. “It is up to us to really put that all together across a continuum, and make it one cohesive entity.”
In addition to naming these unification efforts as a key priority within the DAF, Bonci also posited that credibility is an overlooked aspect of the Air Force’s mission that needs to be a central focus going forward in order to better respond to the enterprise’s customers and gain critical feedback for future efforts.
He said, “Agile is the way to be responsive to customer needs. It needs to be transparent, it needs to be quick. We need to be pushing capabilities from the core, and the enterprise needs to be the heartbeat of an agile delivery engine across the Air Force.”
Achieving this goal, Bonci noted, will not be an easy task and will require cultural, technological and strategic changes in order to be accomplished in a way that is effective for the unique Air Force enterprise.
As technological developments continue to rapidly transform the modern battlespace and require federal agencies to evolve, Bonci said the Air Force needs to have simultaneous consistency and adaptability in order to meet changing needs while making progress on achieving ongoing goals.
Bonci used zero trust as an example to illustrate his point. “Zero trust is going to take us five to seven years to get there, and it’s going to be an entire leadership transition before we are there,” he explained.
“So how do we remain committed to that? How do we know that we’re making progress towards those major goals over that leadership transition?” Bonci asked.
He answered by asserting that developing a flexible, yet robust roadmap is a difficult yet necessary measure to ensure long-term achievements across Air Force initiatives as they change and grow.
The Potomac Officers Club will host the platform’s 8th Annual Defense Research and Development Summit on Jan. 19, which will feature key figures across federal agencies and commercial organizations who will examine the Department of Defense’s key R&D priorities in response to global pacing challenges and advanced technological developments in the modern era of warfare.
Heidi Shyu, under secretary of defense for research and engineering at the Department of Defense, will act as opening keynote speaker for the summit and will deliver an address focused on adapting the Department of Defense’s R&D strategies to ensure the technological superiority of the nation’s military force.