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Defense IT Agency Director Outlines Priorities

Lt. Gen. Carroll Pollett, Defense Information Systems Agency director, says agility, reliability, and security key to the $8 billion-a-year agency's success.

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Defense Information Systems Agency director Lt. Gen. Carroll Pollett hits a number of keywords -- agility, reliability, security -- when addressing his vision for the combat support agency, which provides IT and communications support to the rest of the military.

With three stars emblazoning his uniform, Pollett is one of the highest-ranking officers in military IT. His agency has an $8.3 billion budget and more than 7,000 employees -- civilians as well as soldiers from all branches of military -- spread out over 25 states and 7 countries, with the largest concentration right around Washington, D.C.

Currently, DISA is in the midst of one of the biggest shifts in its recent history, one which will see 4,300 workers move next year from DISA's current headquarters in Arlington, Va., 25 miles northeast to Fort Meade, Md., as part of the military's Base Realignment and Closure process. In an interview last Wednesday after giving a speech at DISA's Customer and Partnership Conference, Pollett said that he's told DISA's workforce that the move is his number one priority.

"We've got to look at this as an opportunity," he said. "People will say it's only 25 miles, but most people live south or west of the Beltway, and that can quickly [become a problem]." To make the move easier, the government is helping to pay costs for both civilians and members of the military.

In terms of opportunity, in concert with the move, DISA also is making changes to the way it trains employees, for example creating an expanded internship program that includes opportunities for older employees, adding incentives, and doing more outreach to local schools like the University of Maryland.

The pace of technological change is an opportunity for DISA, which has become one of the government leaders in cloud computing, to continue improving its standing as a support agency for the rest of the military. "We've got to be agile and flexible," Pollett said. "The challenge is this rapid change, this asymmetric environment, and trying to keep up with acquisition to give technology to the field so they have the latest tech to work with."

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