Air Force CIO releases IT strategy to run through fiscal 2028

Lauren Knausenberger, Air Force chief information officer, receives a mission brief from the 2nd Communications Squadron during an official visit to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, June 16, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob B. Wrightsman)

The Air Force has released an interim “CIO strategy” meant to hone the department’s IT efforts through fiscal 2028.

CIO Lauren Knausenberger announced the interim strategy Monday at the Department of the Air Force Information Technology and Cyberpower 2022 event in Montgomery, Alabama, saying that she expects a final version will be approved “in the coming days.”

“This was our effort to publicly go to the next level of detail and say where are we throwing our money and our time and our focus and our effort, and where do we want industry and our community to also focus,” Knausenberger said during her opening keynote.

The strategy features six lines of effort, which Knausenberger called “pretty straightforward.” They are: accelerate cloud adoption; future of cybersecurity; workforce; IT portfolio management; excellence in core IT and mission-enabling services; and data and AI.

“These are the things we have to do to get after it. We’re no longer at a point where we have to necessarily grab new technology to solve our problems,” she said. “We’re at the point where we really have to execute and we have to block and tackle, and we have to be able to operate very, very effectively.”

To make sure the strategy doesn’t become “shelfware” — a play on the term in the software industry for something that an organization perceives is necessary but is never effectively used — Knausenberger said there are milestones the department and supporting community will work through to track progress on the lines of effort “so we know exactly where we are and we know exactly what was done.”

“We have too many things to do as a community,” she said. “So how do we ruthlessly prioritize to make sure that we are all focused on getting a couple of those things done so that we can see it across the finish line?”

The Air Force will need money to make progress on this strategy, Kanusenberger acknowledged, explaining it’s the biggest concern she hears about from stakeholders in the department. However, though she couldn’t reveal specifics on budget numbers that are forthcoming for the department’s IT spend, she said if things go as expected with the president’s budget and the Defense Department’s program objective memorandum (POM), there should be a “windfall,” particularly in fiscal 2024.

“We’re going to be putting our money where our mouth is,” Knausenberger said.