Air Force CIO Lauren Knausenberger Selected as 2022 Wash100 Award Recipient for Championing IT Optimization & Reform
Executive Mosaic is proud to recognize Lauren Knausenberger, chief information officer for the U.S. Air Force, as a 2022 recipient of the prestigious Wash100 Award, which annually honors a select group of preeminent leaders in the government contracting community for their impactful contributions across the federal landscape.
This marks Knausenberger’s second consecutive Wash100 Award – the Air Force CIO won her first Wash100 in 2021 and came in second place during last year’s highly competitive popular vote race, demonstrating her broad support and favor across the GovCon community.
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“A two-time winner of the Wash100, Lauren’s popularity is no surprise to those who have either met or engaged with her professionally,” commented Jim Garrettson, CEO of Executive Mosaic and founder of the Wash100 Award.
Garrettson continued, “Air Force CIO Knausenberger finished near the apex of last year’s Wash100 voting. She embraces the full spectrum of the Air Force’s complex organizational tentacles reaching into cyber, space, technology portfolio investment, intelligence, cloud computing, terrestrial facilities and a myriad of interconnected areas across a $17 billion technology portfolio and a force of approximately 650,00 active duty and reserve airmen, civilians and air national guards.”
Knausenberger is recognized with the 2022 Wash100 Award for her unwavering commitment to the Air Force’s information technology improvements, modernization initiatives and digital transformation efforts in alignment with the Department of Defense’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control goals.
Since her August 2020 appointment to CIO, Knausenberger has been a vocal advocate of leveraging commercial technology advancements to improve the service branch’s digital capabilities, replace aging IT infrastructure and better equip warfighters for the modern battlespace.
Notably, Knausenberger has been a strong representative voice in the growing call to action from frustrated airmen and women urging the Air Force to solve widespread IT, networking and connectivity issues.
“We need to make big, bold capital investments in IT to drive the tech and process modernization we need to compete,” she told Air Force Magazine. “The most successful corporations have figured out that IT is a huge contributor to the value chain and a key source of [competitive] advantage. We seem to still think it’s a cost center in the DOD, and that’s a huge mistake.”
In early 2021, she spearheaded the Air Force’s Operation Flamethrower initiative, which sought to eradicate outdated IT policies in favor of a new, modernized enterprise IT-as-a-Service model that featured better connectivity and bolstered cybersecurity.
“From the network layer, zero trust, cloud and DevSecOps, we want to drive new ways of IT and advance our cyber landscape,” Knausenberger said of the Air Force’s IT priorities. “The threats are more persistent and advanced, so we want to rapidly adopt emerging technologies to protect ourselves.”
In response to the Pentagon’s potential budget cuts in March 2021, Knausenberger urged the Air Force to prioritize automating IT processes in order to keep pace with accelerating industry developments and ensure the country’s competitive advantage on a global scale.
More recently, she said the Air Force is now drafting a strategy for the service branch’s investments in robotic process automation, which is expected to optimize data sharing, eliminate redundant IT processes and increase efficiency for some mission areas in which work is still being performed manually.
“There are some manual jobs that we are still doing because we have not made the type of investments that a lot of industry has made to provide that automation, that really awesome software,” Knausenberger said during an AFCEA event.
“We have a crazy amount of technical debt,” she continued. “We have a large number of different systems that sometimes do the same thing. We know this, we’re on it…It’s just a matter of putting the plan to action.”
Automation and elimination of redundancy fall under the Department of the Air Force’s tradespace component, which is one of four pillars that Knausenberger said currently guide IT priorities for the Air Force and Space Force. The other three elements of the service’s plan include developing a foundation for JADC2, improving user experience for warfighters and enabling digital talent.
The Air Force CIO is a noteworthy proponent of expanding educational opportunities for airmen and led the Air Force through the launch of its Digital University. She describes the initiative as the service’s “capstone effort to level the playing field and give people access to best-in-class digital education, whether they’re cooks or cyberwarriors.”
Prior to her current post, Knausenberger served as the Air Force’s chief transformation officer and director of cyberspace innovation. Her private sector career includes her previous roles as president and founder of Accellint and division manager for CACI International.
Knausenberger is slated to keynote the Second Annual Air Force: IT Plans and Priorities Forum, hosted by GovCon Wire Events on March 9, to deliver exclusive insights on the service’s newest modernization strategies, technological innovation areas and critical capability gaps surrounding IT processes and infrastructure.
Executive Mosaic congratulates Lauren Knausenberger for her second induction into the 2022 edition of the coveted Wash100 Award. Knausenberger’s work in driving IT innovation across the Air Force and Space Force has delivered significant impact to airmen and the Department of Defense, and Executive Mosaic is pleased to honor her for her past, current and future contributions.