The Pentagon’s zero-trust office is on a mission to develop and test a plan for organizing its reams of data by the end of the year.

At the TechNet Cyber conference presented by the Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association International in Baltimore last month, Randy Resnick, director of the Zero Trust Portfolio Management Office, said tagging and labeling, the practice of assigning metadata and identifiers to pieces of data, has been a long-term challenge for the department.

“They’ve been apparently working on this for 12 or more years —15 years — and I think it’s time enough to do something,” he said.

By way of an update on these efforts, Resnick said he approved three pilot programs in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Defense Chief Data and Artificial Intelligence Office and the Department of Homeland Security to develop a plan that would allow for all the necessary conversions and interpretations to process any data tagging and labeling standard in an understandable,repeatable way.

The goal is to have a successful demo of a schema by the end of the calendar year. Resnick also set a deadline of October for an internal working group to brief his office on a solution, even a partial one.

“We’re not looking for perfection,” he said at TechNet. “We have to start implementing something, and then it’ll grow over time as people agree to more tags and more labels. It’s got to be flexible enough to allow for growth.”

In a January study by Defense Innovation Board, researchers found “data access remains the central enterprise-level obstacle to the sharing and use of data for the warfighter.” Part of that is because military departments are “haphazardly” placing data leaders throughout the organization while top-level tech leaders are struggling to enforce their position as a unifier. Other persistent issues like a lack of uniform guidance, sustained funding, workforce gaps and technical silos also make progress on broader zero-trust difficult.

For now, there remain roadblocks that separate the DoD from the data economy it wants, but Resnick is realistic about these challenges and said a solution in development is better than nothing at all.

“That’s the type of solution that I personally am looking for, because that’s what the department needs,” he said.

Molly Weisner is a staff reporter for Federal Times where she covers labor, policy and contracting pertaining to the government workforce. She made previous stops at USA Today and McClatchy as a digital producer, and worked at The New York Times as a copy editor. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In Other News
Load More