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Office eases process for commercial internet access

  • Published
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio (AFLCMC) – An AFLCMC team has streamlined the Commercial Internet Service Provider approval process to allow all AFMC organizations on base faster access to faster internet service. 
 
“Airmen learned to do their missions remotely during the pandemic by accessing the Air Force network through the VPN using Commercial WiFi,” said Craig Boke, AFLCMC User Experience Team.  “When staff began returning to perform their work on base, they found it frustrating not to have a similar user-experience, which impacted productivity.” 
 
Inspired by CSAF’s “Accelerate Change or Lose,” the AFLCMC Chief Information Technology Office worked within the Air Force Enterprise policy to eliminate bureaucracy, empower Airmen, and shift the culture toward implementation of Commercial WiFi.
 
Commercial WiFi is connectivity provided by a local vendor that is completely outside the base infrastructure and AFNET.  Users connect back into the DoDIN or AFNet just like when teleworking from home, hotel, or kiosk by connecting back through the Internet to existing gateways and cyber defenses at DoD or AF gateways to do their jobs.
 
“Commercial WiFi presents no greater risk than teleworking because government laptops are equipped with cyber security protections and staff employ DISA or AF VPNs to protect up to Controlled Unclassified Information and existing cyber defenses at the gateways keep unauthorized users out,” Boke said. 
 
The challenge from the onset was navigating the bureaucracy.  It was always possible to gain commercial access, but requests typically took a year to process.  Lt. Gen. Shaun Morris, AFLCMC commander, challenged the Commercial Internet Technology Office to innovate a better process than the existing one.   
 

The UX Team streamlined steps along with input from installation POC’s across AFMC where AFLCMC personnel were assigned by redefining the review and approval process.  Their new CISP ATO review process now produces results in days or weeks.   

“We’ve seen a significant improvement in customer experience and more time to better support the center’s mission,” Boke said. 
 
The small AFLCMC CITO Team also architected an automated system to explain the process, automate request submission, manage workflow, and track metrics. Requestors now receive status emails as the request moves through the process and the local Communications Squadron receives the signed No Security Impact Memo when the request is approved.
 

All AFMC organizations are covered by the new process rules, Currently, approximately 32 requests have been initiated, 16 approved, and 7 are operational.  Each unit is responsible for submitting prerequisite documentation - O-6 Concurrence Memo, Floor Plan showing the placement of Wireless Access Points and any classified processing areas, TEMPEST/Spectrum management coordination and an on-boarding questionnaire.  Units are also responsible for funding the implementation and monthly recurring costs, which vary depending on the service provider. 

“Commercial WiFi not only makes transitioning between at home and on-base seamless, it also untethers staff from the cubicles, helps make optimal use of available space, allows for meeting in non-traditional spaces, and increases morale, recruitment, and retention because employees like the modernized environment including use of personal devices to stay connected with family and accomplish personal tasks without needing to leave work to access cellular service,” Boke said.
 
Interested organizations should visit https://usaf.dps.mil/teams/10251/CISP/SitePages/Home.aspx to start the process.