Schneider leaves a legacy of change at DIA

Grant Schneider was the chief information officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency for seven years before leaving for a two-year detail at OMB earlier this mo...

Sequestration and other budget reductions are causing the Defense Intelligence Agency to reorganize its technology workforce.

DIA is relying less on outside contractors for two big reasons.

Grant Schneider, the chief information officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency for seven years before leaving for a two-year detail at the White House on Oct. 3, said the first reason is quite simple. Budget cuts forced DIA to reduce the number of service vendors.

“I sent half my contractors home in the last 18 months. I was 60 percent contractors and half of them I sent home in order to meet my budget,” Schneider said in an interview

before his last day at DIA. “The first half of the half that we sent home has really been because we changed operating models, we changed our service delivery model and we were able to find efficiencies in the system and change the way we did business in order to offset that. Certainly, there is some agility that we lost and some risk we put into the system.”

Schneider, who started his career in financial management before switching to technology, said understanding the budget process and knowing what the limitations were helped him make certain decisions without sacrificing the CIO office’s customer service.

Schneider said DIA saw the handwriting on the wall that budgets would be tightening as early as 2009-10. He said DIA moved from a regional IT oversight and service delivery approach to one that is more global in nature as the initial step to change its business model.

“We’ve had to contract differently. We’ve moved to more performance based. My service desk when I got into this job, we had 17 help desks around the world. Now we have one that has two physical locations, and one number. All my customers globally call that,” he said. “Seven years ago, we did probably about 20-25 percent of our tickets that we could solve over the phone. This week, we are at 74 percent. That’s another part of the changing the way we deliver service to the customer. They don’t always see all our people, and however they should be able to reach out and get the service.”

A second change is the training and skillset of the civilian and military workforce.

“Over the last 2 1/2 years, we put more emphasis on our military and really paid attention to move some of our military billets around so our military people can provide levels of service, and quite frankly they can do that in some overseas locations where they are a little less expensive for me than having a civilian and certainly a contractor,” Schneider said. “The other piece that we are focused on is the skill mix that my civilian workforce needs. When we did a reorganization about a year ago, we eliminated about 30 percent of my civilian management positions. In order to put those people back into doing more functions as opposed to management functions, however that’s a very different skillset by the time you became a fairly senior civilian, and now you are back to being a doer. We really now are focused on what is the training we need to do, how do we manage the careers because it’s a different career path than it was five years inside the DIA CIO organization.”

All of these changes came as DIA was a leading agency in the Intelligence Community Information Technology Environment (ICITE) initiative. DIA and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency are partnering to be the IC’s desktop environment service provider.

DIA and NGA started phase one about a year ago, and now have more than 10,000 customers on the desktop environment.

“We will do a few more transitions here at the end of calendar year 2014 and then in calendar year 2015, we will be transitioning the rest of the DIA and NGA populations,” he said. “We will go from having about 10,000 people on to be getting closer to 40,000 or 50,000 customers.”

Schneider said phase 2 of the desktop initiative is currently in the source selection process, and an award is expected in early 2015.

“Once we bring that on board, we will be able to start transitioning other agencies,” he said. “We are looking forward to be able to broaden to others in the intelligence community.”


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