Defense Digital Services team (Alvand Salehi/The White House)

Defense Digital Service revamps NATO training management platform

Since the launch of Code.gov in November 2016, several federal agencies have opened their code repositories.  One project recently made available is the Defense Department’s Advisor Network (ANET), which helped streamline the training of Afghan government officials.  

“One of the missions that we are involved in is called Operational Resolution Support, which is a train, advise, assist mission led by NATO that involves 13,000 troops,” Alvin Salehi, senior technology advisor at the White House, said during a presentation at the O’Reilly Open Source Convention.  “These NATO advisors usually rotate out every year and it becomes increasingly difficult to track which advisors have trained which officials.”

ANET aims to remove some of the “duplicative” training and work that comes from the frequent rotation of NATO officials  by enabling vertical and horizontal collaboration between advisors and advisees. It allows advisors to identify relevant Afghan organizations and officials, manage personnel and track advisory progress.

During a 14-week sprint, the Defense Digital Service, a team working within the Department of Defense that builds and deploys technology and digital services, rebuilt the customer relationship management platform to focus on the user-centered experience. At its core, ANET is a way of tracking reports and tying them to authors, organizations and goals.

Although this tool was built for a specific use case, ANET can be used by any agency that wants to simplify relationships between members of an organization and their contacts in different organizations.

By making the ANET code publicly available, Salehi said, other agencies such as the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development can use it to further their missions as well.  Other applications could also arise from non-governmental organizations that are working in developing countries.

Code.gov seeks to bring costs saving and transparency to government software applications, but Salehi said he sees ANET taking the federal open source policy a step further.

“This is a side of open source that offers the potential of technology to help bolster the safety of Americans abroad and the ability of the software itself to help troops and their advisors fulfill their objectives,” Salehi said.

Interested coders can check the GitHub ANET repository to see both the front- and back-end code, and download or fork the code to tailor it to fit their needs. 

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at sfriedman@gcn.com or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

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