Modernizing the military and intelligence community’s top-secret IT network, the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communication System (JWICS), is a top priority for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), said the agency’s chief information officer (CIO).

During an Aug. 23 virtual event organized by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), DIA CIO Doug Cossa explained that the agency has taken on this huge modernization effort investing in and recapitalizing the JWICS with a significant focus on updating equipment, building out cybersecurity tools, and optimizing use cases.

JWICS is the government’s network for hosting Top Secret and Sensitive Compartmented Information, where the Defense Department and the Intelligence Community store their most confidential intelligence – but JWICS has evolved since its inception. Today, the network consists of hundreds of thousands of users and “to keep up with the speed of the national intelligence mission JWICS must evolve,” Cossa said.

Reinvesting into modernizing the JWICS has been a priority in recent years, and “getting that contract award out, that’s probably the biggest one that we’re going to see for this upcoming fiscal year,” he said.

Currently, DIA is poised to kick off JWICS contracting in the fiscal year 2023. Cossa explained that the agency would first focus on hardware and infrastructure improvements – such as routers and other equipment – before turning its attention to cybersecurity and other issues.

“We’ll start with tech refresh, and we’ll get into some of the more advanced zero trust, mobility, network segmentation types of capabilities that are going to bring us into the future,” Cossa said. “But those are the priority areas for contracting.”

These steps are part of DIA’s five-year plan to modernize JWICS. However, details about when contracting opportunities will begin or specific timelines associated with the effort haven’t been discussed publicly.

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