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ODNI CIO Adele Merritt Shares 5 Intelligence Community IT Focus Areas

ODNI CIO Adele Merritt Shares 5 Intelligence Community IT Focus Areas

Advancements in information technology have completely altered the intelligence community’s ability to disseminate its analysis and data to those who need it most, like policymakers, diplomats and defense leaders. Without it, the IC would be “doing all of this with paper and pencil. But in all seriousness, that’s a big responsibility on our shoulders,” said IC Chief Information Officer Adele Merritt.

At the Potomac Officers Club’s 5th Annual CIO Summit on Wednesday, Merritt discussed what she deemed “an exhilarating time to be working in IT,” that is nonetheless characterized by geopolitical instability and threat competition with other nations. This thrill comes from the fact that technology is always changing and changing rapidly, Merritt said. “People all over the world are always working on the next great innovation.”

Investigate how the defense community and U.S. government broadly are utilizing 5G communications and broadband technology to enhance communications and data-sharing at the Potomac Officers Club’s May 22nd 5G Forum. Held at Falls Church, Virginia’s delicious 2941 Restaurant, this breakfast event is essential for any GovCon industry members working in defense comms. Register here!

In order to keep the IC future-focused and to ensure that it does not resort to “lowest common denominator” solutions, Merritt offered an interconnected group of five focus areas that she says are the community’s “north star.”

IC’s 5 IT focus areas

  1. Fortifying the mission through reliable and resilient digital foundation
  2. Assuring the mission through robust cybersecurity
  3. Enabling the mission through modern best practices and partnerships
  4. Enhancing the mission with data centricity
  5. Accelerating the mission with advanced technologies and workforce readiness

When naming these focus areas, Merritt emphasized the importance of zero trust architecture to the IC’s cybersecurity strategy and spoke to the integral nature of collaborations with industry and academia, even with an organization as famously secretive and confidential as the IC.

On the note of data centricity, the ODNI CIO acknowledged the widespread understanding that AI is only as effective as the quality of the data that feeds it.

“If we are going to be ambitious and harness the power of AI, we need to supersize our capabilities for storage, compute and transport. The digital foundation is needed to ensure that we have that tactical edge and we can’t do this work in a vacuum. And none of this will be cheap and a time of tight constraints of tight and diminishing resources,” Merritt shared, linking data centricity back to the first tenet of a digital foundation.

According to Merritt, “it’s up to the CIOs and CDOs to convince leaders to make the right decisions. I work side-by-side with critical partners to identify critical steps that we need to take to drive investment to rise to the data challenges. We are not working behind closed doors.”

Potomac Officers Club events are a great way to be a part of the industry-government collaboration Merritt is talking about. Come participate in a vital dialogue about 5G technologies, particularly their use in the DOD, at the 2024 5G Forum on May 22. Register here!

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