When the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) announced its new data strategy in September 2020, much of what the department is aiming to do sounded familiar to people with experience in private sector information technology. The DoD plans to transform into a data-centric organization and use data to help the department fulfill a number of missions, from better preparedness and improved outcomes on the battlefield to more efficient operation and procurement.
There are seven goals outlined in the DoD Data Strategy. If adopted correctly, the DoD strategy will make data:
1. Visible: Allowing data consumers to locate the data they need.
2. Accessible: Meaning consumers of data can retrieve the data they need.
3. Understandable: So data consumers can recognize the content, context, and applicability.
4. Linked: Enabling data consumers to exploit data elements through innate relationships.
5. Trustworthy: Meaning data consumers can be confident in all aspects of data for decision-making.
6. Interoperable: Which means data consumers have a common representation/comprehension of data.
7. Secure: Protecting data from unauthorized use/ manipulation.
This paper explores four technical challenges facing the DoD data strategy: Accessibility, discoverability, security, and scalability. These challenges are not insurmountable, but they need to be met while working within the capabilities of legacy systems that were not designed for the type of interoperability and connectivity required to meet the goals of the new data strategy. The size of the DoD, the breadth of its ecosystem of partners and contractors, and the criticality of its missions add additional layers of complexity to the challenge of data integration and security.