Department of the Air Force CIO Lauren Knausenberger Shares AF IT Priorities & Praises Collaboration Efforts

With the increasing importance of technologies such as the cloud, zero trust architecture and artificial intelligence, the need for modernization has grown, and the U.S. military has made technology transformation a priority to keep up with the demands of the rapidly evolving warfighting landscape.

To address these needs, Lauren Knausenberger, chief information officer of the Department of the Air Force and a 2023 Wash100 Award winner, has been working to drive current technology initiatives forward, establish strategies for the future and facilitate collaboration to progress DAF modernization efforts before she departs from her current position in June.

Knausenberger highlighted the Air Force’s Enterprise IT as a Service Wave 1, an initiative to streamline service desk operations across the force, as just one area she is currently targeting.

“Ultimately with Wave 1, we are trying to get out of the desktop business entirely and allow our warfighters to focus more on the warfighting mission than the business administration mission,” she said during her keynote fireside chat at GovCon Wire’s 3rd Annual AF IT Modernization and Transformation Forum on Tuesday.

To set up the Air Force’s future, Knausenberger recently oversaw the creation of roadmaps for the service branch’s adoption of zero trust and Identity, Credential, and Access Management as well as a five year CIO roadmap, all of which were developed in partnership with the USAF community.

“We had hundreds of folks participate in bringing together all of that information into one place, because, in an enterprise of our size with so many different stakeholders so many different folks that have historically had a say in things, we have cracked the nut in bringing about a collaborative environment where you can rapidly make decisions,” she said.

In the past nine months, Knausenberger said she has seen “some of the most effective cross collaboration” in her career.

Also included in the development of these roadmaps were the Department of the Army and Department of the Navy CIOs, who worked alongside Knausenberger to guarantee that the goals of each military department harmonize with each other.

Knausenberger said that while creating these timelines, she would frequently meet with these CIOs to ensure the “technical teams were sharing exactly where we were headed and what we were publishing and making sure that our roadmaps were aligned.”

To maintain interoperability, said Knausenberger, those involved are continuing to communicate and work to understand each department’s different capabilities and needs.

Her push for cooperation does not only include communication between military departments and individuals, but with outside partners, such as industry organizations.

“We are hearing across industry that folks felt like they were part of the conversation, and that they could throw some darts after they were published,” Knausenberger said.

Industry, she added, will play a major role in the execution of these roadmaps.

“We are going to need industry to help with deploying all of these capabilities. We are going to need you to bring your solutions. We will need help integrating the solutions and designing our ultimate solution,” she stressed.

Though there is still plenty of work to be done, said Knausenberger, she anticipates that the Air Force will check a couple of objectives off the list before she steps down and knows that she has an “energized team that really wants to get these things done.”

On April 27, the Potomac Officers Club will hold its 2023 Industrial Space Defense Summit, which will gather public and private sector executives to consider the evolving space domain, related technology developments and the role of government-industry partnerships in fortifying U.S. space defense. Click here to register to attend.

The Potomac Officers Club is hosting another deep dive into Air Force digital transformation – the 2023 Annual Air Force Summit – on July 18. The event will host a number of Air Force and industry leaders to discuss the role of emerging technology in the Air Force mission. To register to attend, click here.

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