Defense Digital Service Chief Brings Private
Defense Digital Service
Chief Brings Private-Sector Expertise to Job
By Jim Garamone, DoD News,
Defense Media Activity.
Washington D.C. — (DoD
News) — June 10, 2016 — Chris Lynch may be the only director of a Defense
Department organization who shows up to work wearing a hoodie.
The director of the Defense Digital Service wears the favored
outfit from his days in the private sector in his new position in the Pentagon.
Today he was part of a panel talking about defending DoD networks at the Defense
One Tech Summit here.
Defense Digital Service Director Chris Lynch, right, explains
how his office works within the Pentagon during a presentation at the Defense
One Tech Summit in Washington, June 10, 2016.
Lynch’s office started operations in November. He came in from the White House’s
U.S. Digital Service -- a group of private-sector information technology
specialists looking to bring best practices from the civilian world into
Among the initiatives the office has championed is the recent
“Hack the Pentagon” program -- the first federal government “bug bounty,” he
“When we came in, we had seen a lot of different approaches,”
Lynch said. “Lots of money had been spent on everything from technology [to] the
teams that were running the infrastructure, but when you think about it, we
spent a lot of time focused on the networks themselves and not necessarily the
applications that are running on top of it,” he said. The Defense Digital
Service decided to change that.
Hack the Pentagon was a success, Lynch said, adding that
there are plans for another round.
‘Black Hats’ Don’t Need an Invitation
The bad guys did not wait for the bug bounty to launch
attacks, he said, and the DoD system is under constant attack. Lynch said a few
years ago, the defense.gov website alone had more than a billion malicious
“My team is pretty much made up of nongovernment people,” he
said. “We’re a little bit like a SWAT team, so we go into things where there is
a challenge and help out in whatever way we can.”
Lynch said his group has “some special superpowers” that are
unique in the Defense Department. The team uses these abilities to build and
ship products to address challenges for very strategic projects, he said.
“We’re not digital security experts per se,” Lynch said. The
office acts as a bridge between coders and end users, he explained.
When given a project, the service looks to bring in the best
people from the private sector to address the challenges. “Literally, they are
going to take a leave of absence or a sabbatical from their job to come join
us,” Lynch said. “We call it a tour of duty for nerds.”
One thing all the projects have in common is that they have
broad impact, he said. And the service experts can look across the broad
spectrum and see other areas where products can be applied, he added.
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)
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