Navy looking for tech to plug gaps in its IT workforce

Electronics Technician 3rd Class Robert Aldrich, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 74, Headquarters Company, sets up the tactical data network for Command Post Exercise III (CPX III) using ruggedized laptops. (U.S. Navy / Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan G. Wilber)

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The Department of the Navy is looking for technology that would assist less-than-expert staff in dealing with IT challenges and data center operations.

The service has struggled to keep its IT workforce at pace with its IT needs and is now turning to technology where humans are falling behind, according to a recently released request for information.

The type of technology the Navy is interested in ranges from artificial intelligence and machine learning to expert search systems that would provide automated troubleshooting services for sailors and Marines working primarily in data centers and on enterprise networks. The department is on a path to completely overhaul its IT networks after a blistering cyber review found weak practices protecting sensitive information.

“As IT system complexity is increasing, IT Departments are increasingly understaffed,” the RFI states. “The Government is looking for approaches that reduce IT burden and aid in the use of current network admin/systems admin tools.”

The trick is that this technology itself must also be easy to use. This means that the new software aimed to ease the burden on sailors and Marines needs to be self-explanatory and cannot require them to “learn a new tool,” according to the RFI. The goal is to provide “automated management” through an easy-to-use dashboard.

The Navy has been trying to boost its IT workforce through conventional methods as well. In March, the service launched a new education strategy that incorporated a community college that will prioritize teaching IT and technical skills. The college will not be minting new tech-savvy sailors and Marines anytime soon, forcing the Navy to look to other means as it charges ahead on its IT modernization strategy.

“Success in traditional warfighting domains now requires mastering the Information Environment,” says the modernization strategy.

Submissions for the RFI are just by June 1.

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artificial intelligence (AI), Department of Navy, IT Modernization, Navy, request for information (RFI)
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