The latest Incoming column from Lt. Ben Kohlmann, USN, titled “Link Warfighters to Technologists at the Lowest Possible Level” (SIGNAL Magazine, April 2013), resonated with observations I’ve made and conclusions I’ve reached over the years. I’ve been involved with the research and development and acquisition communities for a long time, including serving as the Air Force chief scientist from 1999 to 2001. Perhaps my adding to Lt. Kohlmann’s advice will help it gain additional traction, and stimulate further discussion and activity.
In this month's SIGNAL Magazine, Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.), makes some interesting points about the new Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) that will be replacing the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) once the contract for the latter expires. Grace wonders if this is the best approach, noting the general success of the NMCI after the early years of growing pains.
In this month's Incoming column, Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.), discusses the difficulties of change, whether it involves renovating his home or upgrading government information technology:
This month, Capt. Joseph A. Grace Jr., USN (Ret.) likens the state of government technology to that of an 8-track tape player in an iPod world, thanks to a bloated procurement process:
This month, Linton Wells II drew his inspiration for Mission Assurance Moves to the Fore in Cyberspace from Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III's recently published article, Defending a New Domain: The Pentagon's Cyberstrategy. Wells summarizes Lynn's strategy points, noting that taken on a whole they have a broader implication than just cyberdefense. It has more to do with mission assurance, he says:
No matter how much we think technological solutions will be the panacea for all our information assurance concerns, there's still the human factor to consider, writes Linton Wells II in this month's Incoming column, "Uneasy Sleep in a Golden Age":
SIGNAL's Incoming columnist Linton Wells II doesn't pull any punches when it comes down to how we might fare better in Afghanistan. Even this morning, news reports emerged on President Obama's commitment to Afghanistan as he told an audience of military veterans that despite challenges (and a growing tide of criticism), the U.S. has "clear and achievable" goals in the country.
According to the National Security Agency, in 1928, Secretary of State Henry Stimson, closed down the Department's intelligence bureau. His rationale was that "Gentlemen do not read other gentlemen's mail."
We have now a comparable situation in the Department of Defense. New policies and guidance have been issued that declare, in effect, that well-behaved gentlemen and gentlewomen should abstain from reading potentially toxic attachments to social computing messages.
Such policies and guidance do not promote the security of defense networks and should be therefore modified.
Networking on the move is the newest capability coming to the warfighter, writes Linton Wells II in this month's Incoming column. He goes on to speculate what this might look like, but notes several challenges along the way.
A new year brings changes afoot, including a new columnist for "Incoming." Robert K. Ackerman, SIGNAL's editor in chief, notes:
What does the United States need to make its efforts in Afghanistan successful? According to SIGNAL's newest Incoming columnist, Dr. Linton Wells II, the answer is sharing unclassified information--a key channel to allowing the United States and its coalition partners to reach the populations they're trying to help. Wells argues that unclassified situational awareness--and the communications networks to share it--are critical enablers. He says:
Does the term "social media" turn people off from the power of these collaborative tools? Christopher Dorobek suggests so in this month's Incoming column, "The War on Social Media." He argues that "social media" does not fairly represent the value and potential of these capabilities, which serve as important ways for organizations and people to collaborate, share information and solve problems.
The intelligence community has been leading the government pack in its collaboration efforts. Christopher Dorobek points to 9/11 and other examples to show how government realized it needed a better way to collect, process and share intelligence data in this month's Incoming column, "The Intelligence Community Writes the Book on Collaboration."
The U.S. Defense Department's performance management system needs to be completely rebuilt, according to a task group assigned to evaluate the National Security Personnel System. Christopher Dorobek explains the problems with the NSPS in this month's Incoming column, Building a Better Government Personnel System:
Transparency remains an issue for the Obama administration, writes Christopher Dorobek in this month's Incoming column, Contract Transparency Poised to Open Up, Dorobek observes that one of the biggest challenges the administration has faced in executing programs through the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed earlier this year has been in oversight of the funds:
The role for federal CIOs is changing, says Christopher Dorobek in Be a CIO, Not a CI-No, this month's Incoming column. He gives props to the current administration for not just supporting information technology and e-government initiatives, but insisting on them, as evidenced by the appointment of key people to important positions and Obama's own determination to not be PDA-less:
Christopher Dorobek waxes nostalgic about his first e-mail account and how he didn't get it at first in this month's Incoming column, "The First Step Toward Collaboration Is to Stop E-Mailing." And he wasn't the only one, he writes:
... And Incoming author Christopher Dorobek would like you to know why in his May column. It's more than a buzzword, he writes:
No person can overestimate the complexities involved in implementing government transparency. It is a dramatic shift in the way we think about information, particularly in government. We always have understood that information is powerful, but the understanding of the power of information led us to keep our information close. In fact, the theory of Web 2.0-and I would argue of transparency as well-is that information, in fact, becomes much more powerful when it is shared.
Christopher Dorobek, writing in this month's Incoming column, addresses a major question for public managers: Just what is the best way to manage in the public sector? During the 1990s, many government agencies were trying valiantly to put performance standards into place, and took many cues from the private sector. But as Dorobek notes in Ending Government's Private-Sector Envy, government is very different from private industry. He writes:
With all the headlines about honest mistakes of late, it bears remembering that often such mistakes lead to valuable insights, writes Christopher Dorobek in his newest Incoming column, Government Needs to Find Balance in Oversight. Noting the government trend toward accountability, Dorobek questions whether accountability itself should be the mission of government. Too much oversight, he cautions, may stifle the very thing agencies need most to best accomplish their missions.