JIE not an attempt at DISA domination, says DISA official

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The Joint Information Environment is not an attempt by the Defense Information Systems Agency to take over all the Defense Department's data centers, said Tony Montemarano, DISA director of strategic planning and information.

The JIE is "not about DISA controlling the world, DISA über alles," he said. "The military departments have got formidable capabilities...it makes no sense to turn them off." He spoke March 25 at an ACT-IAC event in downtown Washington, D.C.

The intent behind the JIE is to create a "single environment" and was instigated by Cyber Command head Gen. Keith Alexander's conclusion that inconsistencies in information technology management made protecting military information technology from cyber attacks untenable, Montemarano said.

"It's not to say individual securities aren't appropriate for what they have, but as far as the mesh is concerned, they are inconsistent," he added.

The relationship between military department data center infrastructure and the JIE is under discussion; among the models being discussed is federation or giving some military data centers a JIE franchise with which they could take in cost-reimbursable business.

Montemarano said he isn't in favor of competition for business among franchised data centers. "Does it make sense that the various departments, agencies within the department compete with one another? Does that make sense?" he said. "We need to be united, and if DISA is not doing the job, then we need to give DISA the boot."

Some proponents of franchising have said competition is necessary to prevent DISA from being able to unilaterally raise prices. DISA services are cheaper than ever, Montemarano said unemotionally. "Every time we peel the onion back, and compare the apple to the apple, we come out with good numbers."

DISA does have a reputation that precedes it, he acknowledged.

"What is the one thing DISA can tell people that it's absolutely successful at? I can think of many, many things--but the one thing is uniting the services against the common enemy."

Asked about sequestration, Montemarano said the across-the-board cuts directly affect about a third of DISA's budget, the portion that is funded through appropriations rather than the DoD capital working fund. Programs funded by appropriations will undergo delays but should avoid cancelation, he said.

The other two thirds of the DISA budget could see a reduction trickle down through cuts by military services, "but we don't know specifically what's happening," Montemarano said.

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