The Department of Defense (DoD) has announced establishment of a Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Officer (CDAO), responsible for strengthening and integrating data, AI, and digital solutions across DoD.

The new position will be in place by Feb. 1, 2022, and will perform in an initial operating capability (IOC) upon its stand-up, according to an embargoed memo set to be released by DoD posted on Dec. 8. The new position should reach full operating capacity (FOC) not later than June 1, 2022.

“The Department has made significant strides in unlocking the power of its data, harnessing [AI], and providing digital solutions for the joint force,” the memo states. “Many components have contributed to this progress. Yet stronger alignment and synchronization are needed to accelerate decision advantage and generate advanced capabilities for our warfighters.”


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By Jan. 15, 2022, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary of Defense James Mitre will submit an implementation plan to reach IOC and FOC milestones. Further, the memo states that Mitre will work closely with affected DoD stakeholders, congressional staff, and outside experts in developing his recommendations.

The memo states that nothing in its contents will “be interpreted to supersede existing statutory requirements.”

At its IOC, the Office of CDAO will have a relationship with related Office of the Secretary of Defense AI, digital, and data offices. CDAO will serve as the successor organization to the Joint AI Center (JAIC); an intervening supervisor between the Defense Digital Service (DDS) and the Immediate Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Defense; and be operationally aligned with the Chief Data Officer, while continuing to report to the Secretary of Defense and the Deputy Secretary of Defense through the DoD CIO.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.