Army updates download policy for its Office 365 users

The Army will allow users of its new Microsoft-based email and office suite to download and upload documents from their personal devices, a change triggered by complaints from soldiers.

The update to the cloud-based system was announced by Army CIO Raj Iyer on LinkedIn Monday. The new policy will allow soldiers to sign documents, potentially giving them greater flexibility to work remotely with the suite known as Army365.

The department decided to accept the related risk by using monitoring tools to audit the downloading of documents, Iyer said.

“When we initially rolled out Army365 we were not ready to address the Cybersecurity risks associated with allowing users to download/ upload files from your personal devices,” Iyer wrote on LinkedIn. “We now have a solution that we are currently implementing to enable you to do just that.”

The new all cloud-based Office 365 software replaces the Army’s current on-premises email system run by the Defense Information Systems Agency, known as Defense Enterprise Email, which is slated to shutter in March.

In a follow up exchange with FedScoop, Iyer clarified that the change is departmentwide. The Department of Defense CIO has adjusted the system’s cloud tenant configuration, and the Army implemented the new access through its instance of the work suite.

The change was sparked by complains from soldiers that they could not download documents to sign and then re-upload.

“[W]e heard your feedback loud and clear. The inability to download and digitally sign PDF files and forms from Army365 Email using your personal devices has been a pain for many of you – especially for the Guard and Reserve,” Iyer wrote in the LinkedIn post.

The rollout for the Army’s email system has been paired with a pilot allowing guardsmen and reservists to be able to use A365 on their personal devices. The goal has been to allow soldiers that only report to armories for drill time to be able to stay connected to their email while not connected to an Army network.