Air Force CIO Lauren Knausenberger Wins 2023 Wash100 for Notable Strides in Technology Modernization, Future Vision

Air Force CIO Lauren Knausenberger Wins 2023 Wash100 for Notable Strides in Technology Modernization, Future Vision - top government contractors - best government contracting event

Executive Mosaic is thrilled to present the 2023 Wash100 Award to Lauren Knausenberger, chief information officer at the Department of the Air Force. Knausenberger earned this distinction for her efforts to keep the DAF aligned with rapidly evolving technological progress and instituting practices to ensure that tools and the network are more accessible and reliable for airmen and warfighters.

The Wash100 is widely-recognized as the most prestigious honor in the government contracting and government spheres. It annually singles out 100 influential and impactful change-makers who the nominating committee deems as both extremely accomplished and most likely to be the key players on the GovCon landscape in the coming year.

2023 marks the 10th year of the award as well as the third time that Knausenberger has netted the distinction. In 2022, she also won the Wash100’s popular vote competition, elected by the populace. In her instrumental role at the Pentagon, Knausenberger oversees both the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Space Force, taking charge of two directorates, a $17 billion portfolio and 20,000 cyber missions.

Over the course of the last year, Knausenberger was at the forefront of a number of department initiatives to overhaul legacy systems and push the DAF toward the future.

Perhaps the most notable among these was the Enterprise Information Technology as a Service initiative, the first wave of which saw the DAF awarding a $5.7 billion blanket purchase agreement to a trusted vendor in August 2022. This means Air Force personnel can focus on “more specialized, cyber-focused network defense and mission assurance,” per FedScoop; the 10-year contract essentially equips the DAF with an externally facilitated, around-the-clock and centralized help desk.

Knausenberger said the importance of the project was that it would ensure that DAF will operate using one unified platform for the first time and have comprehensive enterprise IT service management. She commented that it will enable airmen to enter troubleshooting requests more efficiently and allow for a more diverse set of end-user devices.

At the Potomac Officers Club‘s 2022 Air Force Summit, Knausenberger revealed that Wave 2 of the EITaaS initiative is still in development and is set to be awarded in early-to-mid fiscal year 2023. She said it will entail reinvigorating base infrastructure of about 30 Air Force bases, among other activities.

The DAF CIO’s ambition for the department is vast.

“We have the best pilots in the world, we have incredible air platforms. But we haven’t gotten to the level of discipline in the way that we provision services to say ‘the network will be up 99.9999% of the time and you know it will be there and you know that this is who you’re holding accountable for that’,” Knausenberger told GovExec TV at a conference in August 2022.

To further strengthen DAF policies and processes, the technology official introduced six lines of effort via a department-wide interim IT strategy in August 2022. The focus areas are: accelerating adoption of cloud computing in the office and on the battlefield; cybersecurity; workforce; better IT portfolio management to track spending and reduce redundancy; excelling at mission-focused IT services (including hardware and software); and data and artificial intelligence, such as increased automation and machine learning, according to Defense One. 

Knausenberger’s commitment to such future-facing principals helped cement her place among the Wash100. The workforce aspect of the plan is centered on reimagining incentives for airmen. Additionally, it is aimed to institute digital fluency and confirm that cyber and IT personnel “can learn everything that they need to learn to stay on top of their mission, as well as on top of whatever is happening in the digital world, even before the Department of Defense writ large is talking about it,” per Knausenberger.

“Rolling out those core services, and just executing the heck out of them is huge. Making sure that our data and AI strategy is pushed out in a way that we can really leverage is huge—and getting everyone to do this together,” Knausenberger remarked about the strategy.

Finally, the formidable contributions of Knausenberger to the DAF’s progress were evident in the department’s successful transition of Air Force sites from on-premises hosting to the Air Force 365 cloud platform. The project was completed by the Air Force Enterprise Information Services SharePoint team in October 2022 and migrated nearly 7,000 sites to the cloud. It is intended to standardize operations and position warfighters to access capabilities faster.

“Improving the warfighter experience is imperative to our efforts,” Knausenberger stated. “Airmen and Guardians cannot operate with bifurcated information in the reality of a connected digital environment. DAF365 Enterprise Services enables secure, available information anywhere.”

In recognition of these achievements and in anticipation of her efforts in the coming year, Executive Mosaic is happy to include Lauren Knausenberger in the 2023 Wash100 list of the year’s most revered and promising GovCon leaders.

Visit the Wash100 website to participate in the popular vote contest and see the full list of this year’s winners.

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