Air Force software chief Nic Chaillan resigns

Nicolas Chaillan speaks Oct. 2, 2019, at the Public Sector Innovation Summit presented by VMware and produced by FedScoop and StateScoop. (Scoop News Group)

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Nic Chaillan, the senior official responsible for leading DevSecOps and other software development initiatives at the Air Force, has resigned.

Chaillan announced his resignation Thursday from the post of chief software officer, which he has held since May 2019.

Chaillan was hired in August 2018 by the Department of Defense as a highly qualified expert (HQE), a contract position that allows the government to quickly onboard experts outside of the normal hiring process. In May 2019, he then moved to become CSO at the Air Force.

Before the Air Force, he worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as a cloud security adviser and later DevSecOps lead at the DOD’s CIO office, according to his LinkedIn.

In addition to his role in the Air Force, Chaillan also contributed to Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) by working “part-time” with the Joint Staff’s J-6. JADC2 is the DOD’s new framework for making a battlefield Internet of Things, a system that would rely heavily on software to connect weapon systems.

Chaillan wrote in a fiery, candid post on LinkedIn that part of the reason he left was alleged inaction by senior Air Force leadership. He also complained about a lack of funding for his work and a lack of follow-through from DOD on commitments to elevate software modernization and agile practices across the department.

The list of things he had issues with included “funding, staffing and prioritizing IT basic issues for the Department. A lack of response and alignment is certainly a contributor to my accelerated exit,” he wrote.

Chaillan also wrote that the DOD’s “failure” to deliver on JADC2 was another reason for leaving. After being asked to build a product to show that all of the Joint Staff’s theorizing on JADC2 could translate to new tech, he was not given any funding, he wrote.

“After all the talk and continued assertions that this was critical work, DOD could not even find $20M to build tremendously beneficial warfighter capabilities,” the post says.

Chaillan continued in his post: “It seems clear to me that our leaders are not aligned with our vision in pursuing agility, the importance of DevSecOps, continuous delivery of capabilities, nor, most importantly, the need to fund teams, like Cloud One and Platform One, that are making things happen for the Department, and is a catalyst for change across the Government.”

One of Chaillan’s largest initiatives was helping to start Platform One, the Air Force’s DevSecOps platform. The coding environment has a security accreditation that allows software built in the system to be automatically authorized for use, a security process that usually takes months. The office now has approximately 200 employees, most of whom are private contractors.

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Air Force, Nic Chaillan, software
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