IC ITE’s “Second Epoch”

IC CIO John Sherman on the next generation of the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise


The Intelligence Community (IC) is entering the “second epoch” of its Information Technology Enterprise (IC ITE), IC chief information officer John Sherman said earlier this month in his remarks at USGIF’s GEOINTeraction Tuesday event hosted by OGSystems.

Sherman has held the post of Assistant Director of National Intelligence and IC CIO with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) since September 11, 2017. 

Graphic recorders from OGSystems’ Visioneering Team documented Sherman’s remarks. Click the image to view full size.

According to Sherman, IC ITE’s “first epoch” began around 2012-2013, when the community began to launch some of the enterprise’s core services.

“While it was initially about technology and efficiencies, IC ITE was really about a new way of doing business in the IC,” he said. “It is probably the biggest shift, trying to bring the IC together in an integrated way to prevent another 9/11.”

Doing so is an undertaking that requires buy-in across all 17 federal intelligence agencies and elements, Sherman said, praising the “vision and tenacity” of his ODNI predecessors James Clapper and Stephanie O’Sullivan for leading IC ITE’s first epoch.  

Sherman said he intends to build upon the many new services launched—Amazon C2S, the IC GovCloud, the IC Apps Mall, and more—as well as to make necessary changes along the way. He cited one notable change as the shift away from the IC Desktop Environment (DTE).

“[DTE was] a noble, great idea but as we got into it we recognized a one-size-fits-all solution wasn’t going to work,” Sherman said. “This had to change as we marched into the second epoch.”

 Sherman outlined the five pillars he is using as guidelines for the next evolution of IC ITE:

  1. Agility & Adaptability: The IC’s move to the cloud has enabled it to achieve things inconceivable only a few years ago, Sherman said. Moving forward, the IC will seek to modernize capabilities in data extraction, correlation, and enrichment as well as to embrace new capabilities such as quantum computing and high-performance analytics.
  2. Security & Resilience: Sherman’s IC CIO mission statement is “to modernize and protect.” He is working closely with chief information security officers across the community to launch a cybersecurity implementation plan that includes: knowing your network; correcting inefficiencies; leveraging better technologies such as AI and machine learning to understand the enterprise; and sharing the state of the enterprise by passing information about malicious activity against IC systems through the IC Security Coordination Center in Reston, Va.
  3. Interoperability: Following the pivot from DTE, Sherman stood up a new organization within the IC CIO organization with a focus on embracing reference architectures to ensure interoperability. He described this as moving to a “wheel of seals” where officers can access information from across intelligence organizations.
  4. Usability & Accessibility: This emphasizes ensuring capabilities the IC deploys do not leave those in the field behind, which Sherman said will be more critical than ever as machines are used to augment intelligence.
  5. Affordability: Though the IC has experienced savings already from IC ITE, Sherman said there are always new ways to achieve goals more economically and to leverage new technologies. He cited moving to the cloud, and therefore shifting from a capital expenditure model to an operational expenditure model, as one of the biggest accomplishments under the first epoch of IC ITE—and one he plans to continue.

All five pillars share a common goal, Sherman said: “Decision advantage for our policymakers and warfighters like we’ve had in the very best moments of our nation and allied history.”

  • Want to hear more from Intelligence Community CIOs? Don’t miss the panel discussion, “CIOs Across the IC,” at USGIF’s GEOINT 2019 Symposium this June in San Antonio. Click here to learn more!

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