Washington: The Defense Intelligence Agency is giving the services and the big three military intelligence agencies more control over the design and usage of its critical information technology products.

The idea is to let those organizations tweak and modify DIA products to meet their needs without having to wait for Pentagon IT engineers to make those changes, said Grant Schneider, DIA’s chief information officer. They will now be able to get what they need from those products faster and more efficiently under this new IT model, Schneider said today during a speech on cloud computing in Washington.

This modification work, however, will be done within a set of strict design parameters being developed by DIA, Schneider said. This will ensure that the tweaked versions of the DIA IT systems will still meet security thresholds set for all agency products, he added. “I have to have a development box to let the customers play in,” Schneider said of the DIA design parameters.

By doing this, DIA hopes to close the gap between what the services want and what DIA can provide in its IT products, he said. “We are never going to keep pace with the requirements” coming from the field, Schneider admitted.

The speed at which IT changes, combined with the highly-specific needs of the various intel agencies, means keeping pace with the needs of the intel community will only get more difficult. Schneider said letting the intel agencies tailor DIA-built systems themselves will go a long way to closing that requirements gap, he explained. The practice of modifying DIA-designed IT products has already been occurring on an ad-hoc basis.

For example, Schneider recalled a visit with then-Pentagon intel chief James Clapper to the Defense Intelligence Operations Coordination Center. During their visit, both men were shown a common operating environment built by military personnel at the DIOCC. The program was put together by DIA-made IT products and modified to meet the DIOCC’s needs, Schneider explained.

If DIA had tried to build that COE program themselves it would have taken months to complete, he said. And there would no guarantee that the agency-built program would be what the center needed, Schneider added. The system built by the center’s IT engineers was basically a string of individual DIA-built products “mashed” together, Schneider explained.

DIA will also be able to find some cost savings, particularly in research and development, by letting the intel agencies do the modification work themselves, he added. Those savings will be invaluable, as the intel community looks to make every dollar count in the face of budget cuts.