There are three big things that leaders at the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) plan to prioritize in 2023: how is the agency postured to meet the threats of today, how the agency can position itself to be at an advantage, and how to increase and improve partnerships.

“Posture, position, and partnerships – these are the three things that we as an agency think about on a daily basis,” said DISA director Lt. Gen. Robert J. Skinner, during the AFCEA Lunch On Series on Jan 25.

Skinner explained that the agency needs a clear vision of how well-postured it is today to meet the threats of competition, crisis, and conflicts.

To get there DISA needs “to know and understand what the environment is, to know and understand what its people are doing, to understand and know how educated and trained the workforce is, and how is the workforce leveraging technology on a day to day basis to get after the missions and the function they’re assigned.”

Skinner explained that DISA needs to have a clear understanding of how it can position itself at an advantage not just for today, but for tomorrow. DISA and the Department of Defense (DoD) at large have had a very successful resourcing environment over the last few years. However, continued success in this arena could falter.

“We don’t know if that’s going to continue. We must make sure that we are positioning ourselves to be at an advantage with the resources that are available not just today but tomorrow too. This is especially important from a mission standpoint,” Skinner said.

Don Means Jr., the Operations and Infrastructure Center director at DISA, added that increasing not just partnerships with industry – but “good partnerships” – is another significant priority the agency has for 2023. Good partnerships, Means explained, are those that help the agency understand and truly gain insight into acquisition and how they can be more efficient and effective in their operations.

“Good partners bring ideas to the table that will help us be more effective … more proactive, and more preventative … I think we’ve got a lot of good and great partners today, but there’s a lot of opportunity to do better,” he said.

Stephen Wallace, the chief technology officer for DISA, agreed with Means and added that good partners for DISA are transparent and have good communication.

“A great partner in my eyes is a partner who tells us what we need to know even when it’s not to their necessary benefit,” Wallace said. “I’ve experienced this several times with several great partners where they will come to us and say, hey, look, this is going on. And it may be frankly not necessarily to their advantage. But that open line of communication builds a lot of trust, which is necessary to build good even great partnerships,” he said.

In addition to the three Ps – posture, position, and partnerships – DISA leaders highlighted several projects they are prioritizing for 2023.

DISA will continue work on its Defense Enclave Services contract, for which in early 2022 it awarded an $11.5 billion contract to Leidos. The contract will modernize IT operations among the DoD’s “Fourth Estate” agencies, including organizations within the DoD that are not part of military departments, intelligence agencies, or combatant commands.

To date, the agency has successfully and on a global scale been able to expand commodity IT services, including in locations like Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos. The agency continues to work to expand and modernize these IT services, Means said.

Cloud has also been a big topic at DISA, although not everything belongs in the cloud.

This is why DISA has stood up the Hybrid Cloud Brokers Office, to look at all of the cloud offerings that the agency has and determine “where we can maximize the capabilities that the department has invested in internally and then also maximize what the cloud service providers and our partners bring to the table so that we are successful from a hybrid cloud perspective,” said Ryan McArthur, the program manager for the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability program.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.