Thomas Michelli, acting deputy CIO for cybersecurity at the Defense Department, said late Tuesday that one idea being discussed at the Pentagon to improve supply chain security involves providing a “government furnished cloud” for contractors to use.

Speaking at an event organized by the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC), Michelli said that idea was one of many that have been discussed as DoD task forces tackle how to improve supply chain security, including “how we can best look at what we are buying” and how the agency can get a better look at its supply chain.

He cautioned, however, that no decision has been reached on the idea of a government furnished cloud. “We are not doing it, we are looking at it,” Michelli emphasized.

On the IT modernization front, Michelli said DoD is “looking to migrate to the cloud as fast as we can.”  Part of the thought process in that effort, he said, is focusing on future sustainment, and whether to reform or retire legacy systems.  He joined DoD in 2006, and said that since then “we have never been so laser-focused” on reducing technical debt imposed  by legacy systems, and improving systems so that they are less expensive to run, and so that they “add lethality.”

Speaking of the Pentagon’s overall effort to deal with “competitive overmatch,” Michelli said that DoD “can’t fight without our defense and federal partners.”

“We have to fight with our coalition partners,” he said, which include the traditional defense industrial base, but also what he said was a wider view to include the “national industrial base.”

Elsewhere during his remarks, Michelli said DoD was “very focused now on cybersecurity in weapons systems,” and is “looking to new contracts and acquisitions” to make sure weapons systems security is up to date.

His comments follow a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report in October warning that DoD “faces mounting challenges in protecting its weapons systems from increasingly sophisticated cyber threats,” and, because of its “late start” in prioritizing weapons systems cybersecurity, needs to “sustain its momentum” in developing and implementing key weapon systems security initiatives.

Michelli also spoke of reported heavy investments by the Chinese government in developing quantum-based technologies, and said DoD will need to make its own investments in “quantum resistant encryption” and quantum systems.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.