Cultural Changes Needed in Both Government and Industry

April 21, 2016
By Robert K. Ackerman
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From procurement to security, the involved parties must adjust the way they do business.

The technology to solve many defense and national security challenges may be at hand, but it never will achieve its full effects without major changes in the way industry and government interact. Old practices must be swept away both in policy and in attitude for the Defense Department be able to fully exploit the strengths of private sector innovation.

Many of these issues arose in the Thursday plenary address at Defensive Cyber Operations Symposium (DCOS) 2016, being held in the Washington, D.C., convention center, April 20-22. Terry Halvorsen, Defense Department chief information officer, outlined many of these challenges as he called for a major cultural change in both government and industry.

“The technology is the really easy part,” he said, speaking to industry. “I’m not convinced you will get all the culture right.”

At the core of Halvorsen’s approach is a strong partnership between government and industry. “Now it’s time to have a conversation about culture change—cyber culture, tech culture,” he emphasized. “The issue is how we in government look at industry and how industry looks at government. The partnership where we understand what industry is doing and industry understands government is a win-win.”

Halvorsen described many efforts underway to implement internal and process changes, but overall the concept of how to do business must be altered lest these efforts fall by the wayside. Government needs to listen to industry more, he allowed, and industry must be dedicated to working in new directions. He noted that Silicon Valley’s strength lies in its available finances as well as its focus on innovation.

“Everything we’ve ever done in DOD and industry has involved lots of challenges,” Halvorsen observed. “We must be open to change in the process."

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