Dr. Bryan Pendleton, Chief Data Officer I&A (Intelligence and Analysis), US Department of Homeland Security, speaks with Adita Karkera, Chief Data Officer for Government and Public Services at Deloitte, about his professional journey, the role of the CDO in I&A, and collaboration with stakeholders.
At the onset, Pendleton describes joining the Department of Homeland Security, coming from a career in the U.S. Army and the Defense Intelligence Agency. He recalls joining the organization as an intelligence officer. In 2016, he was assigned to lead a technical intelligence group that leverages computer and digital forensics for work.
The biggest challenge in that role was to understand and manage a massive backlog of data, with limited staff and manual processes.
To solve the challenges, Pendleton brought in lean approaches, served contract professionals to automate processing, and leveraged machines to make sense of the data and disseminate intelligence. The success here prompted the leadership to appoint him to lead the CDO organization, a part of a broader transformation of the IT enterprise from a customer-centric perspective.
Moving forward, Pendleton reflects that the CDO organization in the Office of Intelligence Analysis was initially informal, and the role was not formalized until 2021.
To answer the question of what the CDO's role is in the organization, Pendleton recounts history; stating that the failure of the government to connect the dots after the 9/11 attacks, made him realize that his job was all about connecting dots and helping intelligence professionals find the data and information they needed to do their work.
Dr. Bryan Pendleton | Chief Data Officer I&A (Intelligence and Analysis), US Department of Homeland Security
He further mentions Senator Joe Lieberman, who explained during the passage of the Homeland Security Act, that an intelligence division is being created to focus on identifying threats to the homeland.
Pendleton continues that this division was tasked with connecting dots from federal, state, and local agencies, from closed and open sources, from law enforcement, and foreign sources. Accordingly, the job is to ensure that data and information are connected in the organization he leads.
Pendleton works to lawfully negotiate and acquire appropriate access to the ‘dots’ in close collaboration with the oversight offices. His team then works to make data available to the intelligence workforce within the boundaries of appropriate protection, security, and use. Pendleton also mentions providing the workforce and other intelligence partners with advanced analytics support to help make sense of those dots and connect them.
Additionally, he provides technical support, assisted by other intelligence partners, to identify threat actors. Furthermore, he oversees the data strategy, data governance, data management, data architecture, data science, and data engineering in the organization, which also includes artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Furthermore, Pendleton shares that the CDO organization was brought into the Directorate for Technology and Data Services, which he asserts is the optimal place as it provides access to all the capabilities necessary to deliver for the intelligence workforce.
In continuation, he stresses the importance of having access to partners across divisions for any services he wants to bring to the table. He also appreciates the Business Management Office's assistance in establishing contracts with the Cloud Team in the Operations and Engineering Team, as it provision the environments wherein the CISO can securely scan, test, authorize, and connect to systems.
Pendleton explains that the Mission Solutions Division is one of the closest groups he works with and it offers rapid solutioning for the intelligence workforce. It also addresses the need to develop an industrial-strength solution at an enterprise level which is outside the scope of the CDO team.
Concluding, Pendleton notes that everything boils down to partnerships and relationships, and the numerous interdependencies make the CDO organization the best across I&A.
CDO Magazine appreciates Dr. Bryan Pendleton for sharing his data insights with our global community.