Top weapons of mass destruction agency daunted by info assurance

Defense Threat Reduction Agency faces familiar problems in budgeting, bureaucracy, shortage of skilled personnel

Like the rest of the Defense Department, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is seeking ways to better collaborate, streamline and use IT as a tool to implement efficiencies. DOD’s top agency for all things  concerning weapons of mass destruction is also struggling with information assurance and contracting, and is focusing on training to help retain talent and improve its stature, according to DTRA CIO Stephen Broughall.

Speaking at the AFCEA Warfighter IT Day in Vienna, Va., Aug. 9, Broughall outlined some of the agency’s chief goals, including a number of IT imperatives to modernize DTRA and get the efficiencies mandated across DOD.

“We’re constantly trying to improve the end user experience. We want to increase collaboration and knowledge management capabilities – across both the government and other relevant sectors,” Broughall said. “And we need to build and execute a comprehensive information assurance (IA) program.”

IA is proving to be a particular challenge at DTRA, and it’s a priority issue for which the agency is aggressively working toward solutions, Broughall said.

“The IA threat is eating our lunches,” he said. “But the effort is a growth industry. We have to make sure our networks are secure.”

DTRA’s initiatives are confounded by the same challenges facing the rest of DOD and the wider federal government though. Costs have been difficult to contain, a hurdle worsened by ongoing budget cuts, while IT continues to outpace security – including with regard to mobile technologies the agency is actively pursuing. The talent pool is small, with a shortage of contracting personnel exacerbating chronically lagging contract lead times, Broughall said.

“If you’re frustrated with the contracting lead time, you aren’t the only one. We have the same amount of bureaucracy as anyone else,” he said.

To help face the challenge, DTRA remains focused on its small-business opportunities, which accounts for 28 percent of its contract awards, he said.

The agency is working to attract the skilled workers it needs to improve, while also making sure it offers the right training to help its personnel stay ahead of the curve.

“In this business, things change very quickly. We need to train to stay current,” Broughall said.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a staff writer covering military networks for Defense Systems.

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