Kathleen Hicks: DOD Creates Chief Digital and AI Officer Position

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Kathleen Hicks, deputy secretary at the Department of Defense and a 2021 Wash100 Award recipient, has issued a memorandum announcing the creation of a new position to oversee DOD’s artificial intelligence, data and digital initiatives.

DOD expects the office of the chief digital and AI officer (CDAO) to achieve initial operating capability by Feb. 1st and full operating capability no later than June 1st, Hicks wrote in the memo released Wednesday.

The office of the CDAO, which will directly report to Hicks, will act as the successor organization to the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center and intervening supervisor for the Defense Digital Service. It will also be operationally aligned with the office of the chief data officer, which will continue to report to the secretary and deputy secretary of defense through the Pentagon’s chief information officer.

James Mitre, senior adviser to the deputy secretary of defense, will come up with an implementation plan by Jan. 15, to meet the IOC and FOC milestones for the new office.

A senior defense official said the organizational change is part of efforts to advance DOD’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) concept, C4ISRNET reported.

“JADC2 is the integration of disparate data sources into a common architecture that allows us to have clear, senior-leader-down-to-operator decisions to drive warfighting improvements,” the official said. “To do that. you need a range of capabilities from common data architecture to a common development and deployment environment that allows you to take your applications either digital or AI-enabled and move them to the warfighter.”

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