DOD ‘considering qualified candidates’ for CDO as it transitions role

Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan formally, swears-in Mr. Dana Deasy as the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer, June 15, 2018 at the Pentagon. (DoD photo / U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Angelita M. Lawrence)

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Defense Department CIO Dana Deasy is actively looking for a chief data officer as the position is moved into his office as required by the military’s recently passed 2020 policy bill.

Deasy is working quickly to relocate the CDO position from under the chief management officer to his own office, he wrote in a recent memo to Deputy Secretary David Norquist.

It is unclear if current CDO Michael Conlin is in the running to keep the job he has held since 2018, but Deasy wrote in the memo he has “begun considering qualified candidates” for the role who would fit the qualifications set forth in the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act. He said he will eventually recommend someone to the Norquist and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

A Pentagon spokesperson told FedScoop in an email that though “there are senior leaders responsible for components of data architecture, collection, and insight, this would be the first overall CDO for the Department. As the memo indicates, the DoD CIO is exploring candidates for this new role as prescribed through the Evidence-based Policymaking Act.”

The reorganization was mandated by the 2020 National Defense Authorization act.

“I view this as an opportunity to strengthen leadership on data governance and ensure our digital systems can fully support joint all-domain operations,” Deasy wrote in the memo. “As this need is urgent, I have directed my staff to begin transition planning.”

Deasy’s objective, he says in the undated memo, is to have the office fully transitioned within 90 days.

Deasy noted he plans to staff approximately 10 people to work in the new CDO’s office. He is working with the CMO’s office to transition funding and detailing workers to staff the newly housed office under the CIO’s purview.

Conlin was the DOD’s first CDO and has been working on attracting technology talent into the department, he told FedScoop when he started his job. The road has been uphill as the DOD has faced long delays in consolidating its data and migrating to the well-publicized Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud.

Federal News Network first reported news of Deasy’s memo.

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chief data officer (CDO), Dana Deasy, Department of Defense (DOD), Michael Conlin
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