DOD briefs House lawmakers on COVID-19 impact on defense IT systems

By Justin Doubleday / November 19, 2020 at 4:43 PM

Pentagon officials briefed House lawmakers today on COVID-19's impact on Defense Department information technology systems, as the pandemic has forced DOD to accommodate teleworking using new IT applications.

DOD Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy and Defense Information Systems Agency Director Vice Adm. Nancy Norton briefed the House Armed Services intelligence, emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee today, according to Chairman Jim Langevin (D-RI).

"This brief focused on the vulnerabilities of the Department of Defense’s information and communications technology," Langevin said. "This year, the department has worked to secure information networks and enable teleworking, even with sensitive information. Going forward, we must continue to modernize so that we harness the latest digital technology and, ultimately, never send our servicemembers into a fair fight."

In March, the Pentagon established a new tool, the Commercial Virtual Remote Environment, to accommodate teleworking across DOD. By July, nearly 1 million active-duty users were using the environment, according to Deasy.

"There is an active conversation about what does a sustained teleworking environment look like?" he said at the time.

Langevin today also highlighted the importance of defense research.

"We must also take this moment to identify how we can better fight through a pandemic," he said. "This year, scientists and engineers advanced our bio detection and response capabilities. Scientists also built on defense research from earlier years that accelerated our vaccine production process. We must continue to support American ingenuity and early-stage, basic research. This is how we confront challenges before they become crises."