DoD’s media agency communicates well with the world, but not with its employees

Behind the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration, the Defense Media Activity’s Defense Imagery Management Operations Center (DIMOC) ranks as the third largest inventory of media in the government.

As part of a broader customer service transformation under the President’s Management Agenda, Vince Rotell, the director of customer relationship management for DIMOC, said the agency aims to “connect the dots” between its stovepiped program offices.

By improving communications within the agency, he said DIMOC will become more responsive to its customers.

“We can communicate really well with the outside world. Sometimes, inside, we have a difficult time communicating with each other,” Rotell said. “The issue of us communicating with each other, based on what the customer is asking us, is an issue with us. One of the things we’re going to tackle this year is to try to get these stovepipes to start to show some transparency.”

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But in order to improve its level of communication, Rotell said DIMOC employees need to feel encouraged by management to share information with other program offices.

“Everyone’s very territorial, and they like to protect their own little nest egg. They don’t want to share that information back and forth, because they might look weak with sharing it. But from the top — at the director level, senior leadership level — this is what they should be pushing for, that all of us need to communicate better. And when we start communicating better, obviously we’re going to communicate better with the customer.”

In addition to its more public-facing Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS), DIMOC also operates the Joint Combat Camera Center (JCCC), which provides video capabilities to combatant commands, joint staff and military services.

“When we’re dealing with our customers, it’s every walk of life. I have agents that have to deal with CNN, Fox News, every media outlet, and then they have to deal with a colonel screaming at them, saying ‘I need this imagery.’ So there’s a whole variety, all walks of life, that they have to deal with,” Rotell said.

In order to better coordinate between program offices, DIMOC has started using Jira, an open-source software program and collaboration tool. But going forward, the agency plans on taking a more holistic look at how it stores its huge trove of photos and videos.

“We are struggling trying to find the right tool that’s going to fit. We’re actually putting everything on the cloud that we have now because of storage and cost of storage. Every day, we’re sucking up terabytes, because we all live in this video and still image world right now,” Rotell said.

But in order to break down some of the agency’s communication barriers, Rotell said DIMOC’s rank-and-file employees need to keep the top brass in the loop about the latest technology used in the office.

“Some of us keep up with the technology, others don’t, and you have senior leaders, most of them — men and women — that are probably baby boomers. So it’s up to the younger generations below in our organization to make sure you educate your senior leaders about technology,” he said.

Rotell said his agency also works closely with NARA to preserve its vast stores of historical imagery.

“Every image that we capture is a historical record,” Rotell said. “When we’re talking about imagery and video, this is millions and millions of hours of video. I lost count of how many that are out there today. Our customer service agents rely on a knowledge management portal to answer most of the questions that are going on, because each image or each video has specific compliance or specific content that has to be watched over — if it’s [for official use only] or if it’s any type of classified, or if it’s for the public domain.”