IT is 'an innovator's dream environment' SPOTLIGHT

Name: Frank Doe

Agency: Defense Information Systems Agency

Title: Chief, Counter-Drug Integration

Length of Service: 22 years, 20 in Defense Intelligence Agency


Education: Bachelor’s degree in economics, College of William and
Mary; master’s of science in administration, international business, Soviet studies
and information management, University of California at Irvine; numerous computer science
and management courses at Defense Department and academic schools.

E-mail address:

Responsibilities: I manage a team of civil
service, military and contract personnel who integrate assets that support drug
interdiction and law enforcement into networks telecommunications and information systems.
Our customers include federal, state, local and foreign governments.

The most exciting aspect of my job: The
extraordinary diversity of the job is most exciting. The spectrum includes every kind of
information technology: systems deployment around the world, multiple levels of security
for different customers, interaction from cabinet level to local police, and support to
missions ranging from criminal investigation through intelligence analysis to active drug

Each of the more than 50 customer agencies has a different problem they’re
struggling to solve. I have the opportunity to look across the entire range of IT to apply
the right tools and solve the problems. It’s an innovator’s dream environment.

Having laid the technical base for unclassified, sensitive and classified information
systems customers, our division is now successfully dealing with the customers’ data
itself. This is really the pinnacle of the information systems architecture: turning data
into knowledge. The technology lets my customers do what I’ve always wanted: provide
the real IT payoff at the pointy end of the spear—where concrete action can be taken
based on conclusions derived from sophisticated analysis.

The greatest challenges in Defense networks: In
addition to the normal challenges of getting the bandwidth where you need it and at a cost
you can afford, the division works to overcome the legal, policy and procedural barriers
across the customer organizations. Most of the government organizations we serve have
systems that were designed to meet internal needs. When the task is information sharing
across non-Defense organizations, the use of Defense networks is controversial on both

In some cases we must deal with concerns that non-Defense users will have a negative
impact on critical military missions. In other cases, we must deal with access control
over law enforcement data that is not intended for use by Defense or other organizations.
Moving toward a seamless web of information while dealing with need-to-know, right-to-know
and traditional national security constraints will continue to be the major challenge for
this division.

The most exciting new technologies in Defense
information systems: One key new technology for the counter-drug environment is
data visualization. We’ve analyzed hundreds of millions of existing records for law
enforcement customers. Visualization and data mining together are incredibly intuitive,
and the results can be used by the customer immediately. The technology is also applicable
to other areas.

Real-time collaboration with audio and video is having an impact one customer likens to
that of the automobile or electricity. Picture a conferencing process among 21
organizations throughout the world, sending more than 700 secure faxes to gain agreement
on a document that they could only publish once a quarter. By using collaboration
technology over a moderate-speed classified WAN, that process occurs in real time with
increased accuracy, lower cost and greater relevance to policy-makers. This is exciting.

Secure Web data access technology—that is, X.509 certificates—has made it
possible for the first time to supply certain critical intelligence data to counter-drug
warfighters in a manner consistent with strict need-to-know constraints. Information
security technology is key to future successes in cross-government information sharing.

What best prepared me for this job: As an
intelligence analyst, I was very frustrated with the systems developers’ inability to
provide support to the pointy end of the intelligence process—analysis. It appeared
far easier for me to become a techie and build the right tools than to re-educate systems
personnel to understand the analysts’ needs. A career move to the IT arena,
additional education and some hard knocks in the world of interagency systems development
helped prepare me.

The greatest influence in my career: Coming from an analytical world where information
systems didn’t really work for me, the first interagency project was an eye-opener.
Here we had people who understood the technology working closely with the people who owned
the information. Seeing a high-level architecture move from plan to reality was thrilling,
if not always smooth politically or technologically. Seeing firsthand that it is possible
to envision a solution that does not exist anywhere and then make it happen continues to
drive my career.

Other interests: World travel, skiing,
reading, weightlifting, museums, bicycling and architecture.   

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