DOD to create new chief digital and AI officer post

(DOD / Lisa Ferdinando)


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The Department of Defense will create a new leadership position to oversee the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, the Defense Digital Service and the DOD’s chief data officer.

The idea is to centralize oversight of data and AI initiatives under one official at the highest levels of the Pentagon.

FedScoop previously reported on internal deliberations within the deputy secretary’s office on whether to create the position, which will start Feb. 1. Details of the discussions were first reported by Breaking Defense.

The JAIC was recently transferred from the CIO’s office to report directly to the deputy secretary in the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act to give it greater visibility and resources. The CDO stayed within the CIO’s office.

The office of the chief digital and AI officer (CDAO) will succeed the JAIC. It is expected to reach full operational capability by June 2022.

DDS reports directly to the secretary of Defense and fashions itself as a “rebel alliance” by taking those in the private sector into the Pentagon for two-year tours where they apply their expertise to data or technical problems.

“The CDAO will serve as the Department’s senior official responsible for strengthening and integrating data, artificial intelligence, and digital solutions in the Department,” the memo signed by the deputy secretary states.

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CIO, Defense Digital Service (DDS), Department of Defense (DOD), Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC)