Advanced Enterprise Analytics at the Defense Department

Explore How a Government Owned, Federated Data Platform Enables the Digital Battlespace

The Challenge

DoD has the largest operating budget in the world to support its sensitive and global mission. Given its operational complexity, the Department faced a decades-long challenge to conduct an accurate and comprehensive financial audit across thousands of accounting and business systems. Auditors had to manually pull data from different systems, and leadership relied on disparate methods of analytics and reporting from pockets of the organization.

It was clear that a unified program was necessary to bring together data from across the enterprise. This would result not only in the ability to assess the financial health and compliance across DoD—it would also empower the Department to transform data for the purpose of decision analytics to impact business, operational, and mission performance.

Watch this DoD video to learn more about the advanced analytics platform Advana that we developed and deployed at the Department. NOTE: The appearance of U.S. DoD visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

The Approach

In partnership with Booz Allen, DoD set out to build a platform that would organize data from across financial, medical, HR, logistics, and other parts of the organization—to drive decisions and advanced analytics.

The goals of the system included the following:

  • Transform the CFO function from scorekeeper to business partner: Can we explain our business story in numbers and deliver actionable business and mission insights?
  • Democratize analytics for a wide spectrum of users and use cases: From dashboards and simple analysis to complex queries, is the platform accessible and scalable?
  • Improve financial management and data accuracy: Are our general ledger postings correct or do we have abnormal balances? Are we compliant with financial management data standards?
  • Strengthen compliance, control, risk management: Can we support audit analytics and reporting with databases, custom web applications, and easy-access tools?
  • Provide decision analytics on financial performance: Are we paying personnel and vendors accurately and on time? Are we posting receivables and disbursements on time?

“This workflow tool eliminated inefficiencies and provided analysts time and insight to identify a cumulative $316 million in high-risk funds, allowing for a better use of those resources before expiring or canceling.”

The Solution

With thousands of business systems to integrate, there were non-standard interfaces, duplications, legacy technologies, and a culture of different units pulling their own data for decision making. Together, Booz Allen and DoD developed Advana—a unified platform that makes data discoverable, understandable, and useful for advanced analytics to meet critical mission and business challenges across all levels of the department.

To overcome the challenge of disparate, raw data across the organization, from spreadsheets to data warehouses, Advana aligns data sets to the right category (e.g., “logistics” or “medical”), and then converts them to a common data model in a staging environment. The system puts that quality data into workspaces where users can run their own analytics. 

Today, this managed data service supports more than 7,000 users across the Army, Navy, and Air Force, and takes in data from more than 120 DoD systems—providing a flexible and automated framework for data acquisition, data engineering, and governance. It allows Department analysts to identify high-risk funds, automates the process for reviewing quarterly obligations at the Pentagon, and makes it possible to manage business and financial information like a commercial enterprise.

While Advana is a web-based tool that doesn’t requires users to download anything to use the platform, the next generation will involve a move to a cloud environment to allow for greater scale, more powerful analytics, and more advanced automation.