DISA's industry partners center their agendas around user experience

Gettyimages.com / Erlon Silva - TRI Digital

Our Power Breakfast event on working with the Defense Information Systems Agency turned the conversation toward its user base of between 3 million and 5 million users, and the tech integrators that serve them and DISA.

The federal government's customer experience agenda is often interpreted as making services more readily available to citizens through the use of technology and improving that overall interaction.

But in another sense, it can be seen as an attempt to change the overall mindset of how agencies think about how they serve their customers (other agencies) across the government with the aid of companies that bring the tech.

Our May 10 Power Breakfast event turned the lens on how contractors work with the Defense Information Systems Agency, which is responsible for providing IT and communications support to anyone who contributes to the defense the U.S.

That includes the president, vice president, defense secretary, other civilian and uniformed leaders, military services and combatant commands. DISA has approximately 7,000 military and civilian employees that serve a user base of anywhere between 3 million and 5 million people across multiple agencies.

Chad Buechel, vice president and general manager of Leidos' DISA division, said that shapes how his company thinks about the agency as both a service provider and customer.

For that partnership to work, Buechel said it is necessary to have a constant feedback loop that links end users with DISA. Partnership also means being able to make changes quickly.

"It really comes down to that innovation, how we rethink how we're doing things," Buechel said. "(Being) better, smarter, faster in terms of being more agile and innovative and how we deliver our offerings."

Dr. James Matney, vice president of strategy at General Dynamics IT, brought up how companies like his essentially have to prototype and create new solutions as DISA determines the direction it wants to go in.

GDIT and other tech integrators all work with different partners and tech vendors on that prototyping front. That way, prime contractors like GDIT can help show DISA both what is possible and what is practical.

"Because we've tested it, we know what works, and that way we can get a jumpstart or accelerate the outcomes of what they're trying to realize," Matney said.

As chief technology officer for By Light's DISA business, Mark Stine oversees the development and continued support of a secure web browser that the agency operates for roughly 3 million users.

Two main goals of the Cloud-Based Internet Isolation program are to reduce the risk and attack surface of the Defense Department's main information network and relieve congestion at access points.

With a product like that, Stine said "just old-fashioned customer service" is an important priority as DISA is the master cyber policy tenant and other agencies have their own unique characteristics.

"What we're really looking at is how we use the data we're capturing from a customer service standpoint, how are we looking across the various data that we have across the DISA customer space, and really looking at how we use that data to drive opportunities to increase that customer service," Stine said.