Innovation in Government - DoDIIS




Presented by Carahsoft | BeyondTrust | Thales Trusted Cyber Technologies | F5 | Cloudera | Venafi

IIG_DoDIIS Website (300 x 150 px)Innovation in Government, presented by Carahsoft at the DODIIS 2023 conference in Portland, Oregon, is a must-watch program for those interested in the intersection of technology and government. Hosted by Francis Rose, the show delves into the theme of "Chaos to Clarity: Leveraging Emerging Technologies," exploring the latest advancements in data management, artificial intelligence, and large language models within defense, national security, and intelligence communities. Viewers will gain insights from key leaders including Ramesh Menon of DIA on AI strategies, Joe Tragakis of US Special Operations Command on modernization efforts, and Michael Saintcross of Beyond Trust on secure data movement. Additionally, the program features discussions on quantum computing with Gina Scinta of Thales Trusted Cyber Technologies, virtualization initiatives by Mark Chatelain of NGA, and overcoming innovation challenges in defense communities, as highlighted by Jeff Deal of F5. Lori Wade from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence discusses the implementation of the IC data strategy, while Jon Veal of Cloudera and Tony Hadfield of Venafi shed light on future trends in AI and machine learning. This comprehensive program promises to offer a deep dive into the technological innovations shaping the future of national security and intelligence.


  • Ramesh Menon, CTO - Defense Intelligence Agency
  • Joe Tragakis, Director of Communications Systems & CIO - USSOCOM
  • Michael Saintcross, Sr. Director, Federal - BeyondTrust
  • Gina Scinta, Deputy CTO - Thales Trusted Cyber Technologies
  • Mark Chatelain, CIO, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
  • Jeff Deal, District Manager - F5
  • Lori Wade, IC Community Chief Data Officer - ODNI
  • Jon Veal, GVP Defense & Intelligence - Cloudera
  • Tony Hadfield, VP of Solution Architects - Venafi
Envisioning the Future of AI in Defense: A Dialogue with Ramesh Menon, CTO - Defense Intelligence Agency

IMG_0831Summary: Ramesh Menon, CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), discussed the transformative role of artificial intelligence (AI) in defense intelligence. He emphasized AI as a mega trend, vital in areas such as decision support, augmentation, automation, and teaming, both human-machine and machine-machine. Menon outlined the collaborative approach adopted by the DIA, involving partnerships across defense and intelligence sectors to avoid duplication and focus on sustainable capabilities. He highlighted the necessity of having explainable and safe AI that complies with U.S. constitutional standards, focusing on extracting and efficiently using data. The strategy's effectiveness is assessed through a maturity model, tracking progress against standardized scales. Menon also stressed the importance of understanding AI's impact across different functions and the evolution of operational models in leveraging data and digital platforms.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Holistic Approach to AI: Menon emphasized viewing AI across various facets, from talent and skills to mission priorities and operationalization, underlining its impact on strategic intelligence and decision-making.

  2. Explainable and Safe AI: A key focus is on developing AI that is explainable, tracing back the lineage of data and algorithms used, and ensuring it aligns with ethical standards and constitutional compliance.

  3. Collaborative Strategy and Measured Progress: The DIA's strategy involves collaboration across the defense and intelligence community, with a focus on avoiding redundancy and building sustainable AI capabilities. Progress is measured through a maturity model, ensuring strategic and effective implementation.

Advancing SOCOM's Modernization: Insights from Joe Tragakis, Director of Communications Systems & CIO

IMG_0749-1Summary: Joe Tragakis, Director of Communications Systems and CIO at USSOCOM, shared insights into the ongoing modernization efforts within the Special Operations Command (SOCOM). He emphasized the importance of identifying and addressing technical debt in existing systems across various networks to pave the way for modernization. Tragakis highlighted the collaborative nature of these efforts, aligning with SOCOM's goals and priorities of 'people, win, and transform'. A key part of the strategy involves consolidating networks to achieve efficiency and standardization. Tragakis also mentioned the challenges and opportunities in automating processes and reducing manual tasks. He underscored the need to stay aligned with global combatant commands and adapt to their requirements, emphasizing the role of secure, tactical mission networks in diverse environments.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Addressing Technical Debt: A significant portion of Tragakis' focus is on identifying and managing technical debt in SOCOM's existing systems, which is crucial for freeing up resources for modernization.

  2. Network Consolidation and Standardization: The efforts include consolidating multiple networks into fewer, more standardized ones, which is expected to bring about greater efficiency and common standards across the command.

  3. Secure, Tactical Communication: Emphasizing the importance of secure communication in various operational environments, Tragakis highlighted the development of tactical mission environments and networks, ensuring secure and efficient communication for deployed teams.


Navigating Data Security Challenges in Government Organizations: A Discussion with Michael Saintcross

IMG_0807Summary: In a compelling interview hosted with Francis Rose, Michael Saintcross, Sr. Director, Federal at BeyondTrust delves into the complex issues surrounding data security in government agencies, particularly in the context of Defense Intelligence. Saintcross sheds light on the critical need for protecting privileged access to guard against threats posed by nation-state adversaries, as highlighted by recent significant security. He points out the growing internal threats and the amplified risks accompanying the transition to cloud-based systems, which create more vulnerability points. Emphasizing the importance of implementing zero-trust identity controls, as per DoD program office guidelines, Saintcross discusses measures to counteract privilege escalation, advocating for practices like granting privileges on a just-in-time basis, revoking unused privileges, and application whitelisting to mitigate local and shadow admin threats.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Emphasis on Protecting Privileged Access: The interview underscores the paramount importance of securing privileged access, both human and non-human, in the face of sophisticated attempts by nation-state adversaries to infiltrate and compromise sensitive data.
  2. Rising Internal Threats Amidst Cloud Migration: Saintcross highlights the increased internal security risks and the proliferation of threat vectors that come with shifting to cloud-based infrastructures, necessitating robust protection of mission data’s confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
  3. Advocating for Zero-Trust Identity Controls: To enhance defense mechanisms against various security threats, Saintcross recommends adopting zero-trust identity controls. This includes implementing strategies to prevent privilege escalation, such as just-in-time and revocable privileges, and reinforcing security with application whitelisting techniques.
The Dual Faces of Quantum Computing: Opportunities and Threats in National Security with Gina Scinta of Thales Trusted Cyber Technologies

IMG_0838Summary: In an engaging interview with Francis Rose, Gina Scinta, Deputy CTO of Thales Trusted Cyber Technologies, explores the implications of quantum computing in the defense, intelligence, and net sec communities. Scinta highlights the dual aspects of quantum computing: its potential to accelerate data analysis and its threat to cryptographic systems like PKI (Public Key Infrastructure). She emphasizes the urgent need for organizations to prepare for the quantum era by conducting crypto inventories and collaborating with technology partners on pre-certified algorithms and post-quantum crypto solutions. Scinta also notes the ongoing international race in quantum computing development, stressing the importance of being aware of and ready for the advancements of potential adversaries.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Quantum Computing's Accelerated Processing: Quantum computing will significantly enhance data processing speeds, but due to its complexity and cost, it will likely be accessed primarily through cloud services rather than personal devices.
  2. Threat to Cryptographic Systems: A major concern with quantum computing is its capability to break asymmetric encryption, highlighting the need for immediate preparation and transition to post-quantum cryptography.
  3. Preparation and Collaboration Are Key: Organizations need to inventory their cryptographic assets and collaborate with technology partners to integrate pre-certified algorithms. Participation in global consortia, like the project at the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, is crucial for developing strategies to mitigate risks associated with quantum computing.
Embracing Change and Security: Mark Chastelain on NGA's Virtualization and AI Strategy

IMG_0880-1Summary: Mark Chastelain, CIO of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), discussed the agency's shift in virtualization strategy and the evolving role of artificial intelligence (AI), particularly generative AI, in cybersecurity. Initially, NGA aimed to virtualize analyst workstations for greater flexibility, but found that advanced technology and cost factors favored performance workstations. Chastelain emphasized the importance of aligning technology with user needs and managing tech refresh cycles. He also highlighted the dual role of generative AI in cybersecurity: as a tool for identifying threats and as a potential cybersecurity challenge itself. The agency focuses on protecting systems and data, aligning with the zero-trust model. Additionally, Chastelain mentioned the development of the Joint Regional Edge Node (J-REN) project, which aims to provide computational capabilities and data to combatant commands, ensuring functionality in denied, degraded, or disrupted environments.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Adapting Virtualization Strategies: NGA shifted its approach from thin clients to performance workstations for analysts, demonstrating adaptability and responsiveness to technological advancements and user needs.

  2. Generative AI in Cybersecurity: The agency recognizes generative AI's potential in both enhancing cybersecurity defenses and posing new challenges, necessitating a balanced and ethical approach to its deployment.

  3. Edge Computing and Security: The J-REN project illustrates NGA's commitment to providing edge computing capabilities to combatant commands, ensuring secure and effective data access even in challenging environments.

Driving Innovation in the Defense Sector: Perspectives from Jeff Deal of F5

IMG_0851Summary: In an informative interview with Francis Rose, Jeff Deal, District Manager at F5, discusses the challenges and strategies for fostering innovation within the Department of Defense (DoD) and the broader national defense community. Deal highlights the importance of identifying and addressing specific pain points and mission objectives to introduce new technologies and efficiencies. He emphasizes the need for continual awareness of evolving technologies and the role of industry in demonstrating efficient solutions for security threats and vulnerabilities. Additionally, Deal suggests that improved communication of strategic objectives and investment plans by government agencies could significantly enhance collaboration with industry partners.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Identifying Pain Points to Drive Innovation: One effective strategy for promoting innovation in the DoD is focusing on specific pain points and mission objectives, leveraging them as avenues to introduce and justify new technologies.
  2. Continuous Awareness and Education: There is a critical need for ongoing awareness and education about new and evolving technologies among defense personnel to ensure they are open to and can effectively leverage innovative solutions.
  3. Enhanced Communication between Government and Industry: Improved dialogue and transparency regarding strategic objectives and investment plans from government agencies would facilitate better collaboration with industry partners, leading to more efficient and effective solutions for the defense sector.
Transforming the Intelligence Community: Lori Wade on Data Strategy and Innovation

IMG_0858Summary: In a comprehensive interview, Lori Wade, the Chief Data Officer at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), delved into the intricacies of developing and implementing the Intelligence Community's (IC) data strategy. The strategy, unclassified and designed for broad collaboration, aims to unite the 18 elements of the IC on their data journey, focusing on data availability, discoverability, and interoperability. Wade emphasized the urgency of the plan, setting a 2025 target, driven by evolving technological landscapes and security threats. The strategy encompasses four critical areas: end-to-end data management, data interoperability and analytics, advancing partnerships for digital and data innovation, and transforming the IC workforce to be data-driven. Wade highlighted the importance of partnerships, not only within the IC but also with the private sector, academia, and other stakeholders, to keep pace with advancements in AI and other emerging technologies. She also stressed the need to elevate the role of the chief data officer and to cultivate a data-savvy workforce, ensuring that the IC remains effective and responsive in a rapidly evolving digital world.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Urgent and Unified Data Strategy: Lori Wade emphasized the need for a swift and cohesive approach to data strategy within the IC, aligning 18 agencies under common goals and focusing on data availability, discoverability, and interoperability.

  2. Emphasis on Partnerships and Innovation: The strategy prioritizes partnerships with various sectors, including private companies and academia, to leverage advancements in AI and emerging technologies, ensuring the IC remains at the forefront of data innovation.

  3. Workforce Transformation: A significant aspect of the strategy is transforming the IC workforce into one that is data-driven, which includes elevating the role of chief data officers and enhancing data literacy and tradecraft among all staff members.

The Future of AI and Machine Learning in Defense Intelligence: Perspectives from Jon Veal of Cloudera

IMG_0976Summary: In a detailed interview with Francis Rose, Jon Veal, GVP of Defense & Intelligence at Cloudera, discusses the evolving role of AI and machine learning technologies in the defense and intelligence communities. Veal emphasizes the importance of adopting open, extensible, and future-proof technologies to avoid creating new silos and to maintain information dominance. He highlights the shift in focus from technology itself to its practical applications in solving mission-critical problems. Veal also touches on the ethical principles outlined by the White House, suggesting they should guide the future direction of these technologies.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Importance of Open and Future-Proof Technologies: Veal stresses the need for technologies that are open, extensible, and can adapt to future changes, avoiding the creation of restrictive silos.
  2. Focus on Practical Applications: There has been a significant shift in the defense and intelligence sectors from focusing on the technology itself to concentrating on how it can be used to solve specific mission-critical problems.
  3. Guidance by Ethical Principles: The future of AI and machine learning in defense intelligence should be steered by ethical principles, ensuring responsible development and application of these cutting-edge technologies.
The Future of AI and Machine Learning in Security and Intelligence: Insights from Tony Hadfield of Venafi

IMG_0796Summary: In an insightful discussion with Francis Rose, Tony Hadfield, VP of Solution Architects at Venafi, explores the emerging trends in artificial intelligence and machine learning within the security, intelligence, and Department of Defense sectors. Hadfield focuses on the rapid development of generated code and its implications for security protocols, emphasizing the importance of authorizing and controlling code execution. He highlights the evolution of machine learning from merely processing existing information to generating novel solutions, which presents both opportunities and challenges in trust and verification.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Rapid Advancements in Generated Code: Hadfield notes the swift progress in the generation of code, such as macros in spreadsheets, which can automate tasks but also raises significant security concerns regarding the authorization and timing of code execution.
  2. Machine Learning Beyond Data Synthesis: While current machine learning is largely about synthesizing known information, its potential to generate new ideas and solutions will significantly impact trust and security in the near future.
  3. Importance of Active Engagement with AI: It's crucial for organizations, especially in the security and intelligence sectors, to actively engage with AI, moving beyond viewing it as a mere efficiency tool to understanding its broader business impact.

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