DNI focuses on IT architecture for intel community

The National Intelligence Director has set up a unified cross-domain management office with the Defense Department to oversee integration of IT systems handling different levels of classified data.

This first-of-its-kind office is part of DNI's focus on building information architecture for the intel community in which information assurance enables mission goals, rather than acting as a roadblock, CISO Sherill L. Nicely said Wednesday at the Federal Information Assurance Conference being held at the University of Maryland.

"Today we don't share," Nicely said.

DNI was established specifically to address that vital shortcoming.

Nicely, whose full title is deputy associate director for intelligence community IT governance, said she is a CISO in name only for FISMA reporting purposes. She said the title reflects DNI's intent to integrate information assurance into IT architecture rather than focus on it as a separate discipline.

"Our focus is enabling technology that meets the DNI strategy," she said.

Toward that end, her office is establishing communitywide standards for IT. The DNI CIO has been given authority to ensure that all IT acquisitions comply with those standards. "If not, funding can be held."

The cross-domain management office will develop a unified set of standards for IT that will let vendors build systems connecting different agencies. This will also require various agencies to harmonize their classification guidelines, and DNI is developing a standard classification scheme.

"This is a huge challenge," Nicely said. DNI plans to issue draft guidelines in the spring, with a final version expected by summer 2007.

Also planned for spring is a pilot for an identity management and role-based access control system that will enable access to sensitive data on an as-needed basis, without having to build and maintain access control lists. By mid-2007 the office also hopes to pilot an enterprisewide log-on scheme that will allow users to access accounts from any agency.

Another major initiative is revitalizing and streamlining the IT certification and accreditation program, which now is bogged down in the intelligence community because of the complexity of integrating with DOD and outside civilian agencies. Nicely said the Office of Management and Budget has promised to issue governmentwide policies as needed to help DNI achieve this goal.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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