Defense Department CIO Addresses LWN

August 24, 2011
By Rita Boland

Teri Takai, the chief information officer (CIO) of the U.S. Defense Department, elucidated the roles of her agency this morning at LandWarNet, explaining that her duties include looking for efficiencies across the department, leading the way for effective spectrum allocation and working with international partners to create standards. Moving forward, the CIO will separate from the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration to become its own entity. Takai emphasized the need for an integrated look at technology, not a service by service or combatant command by combatant command approach, later remarking on the importance of standardized environments to effective military operations. A change Takai is working to address involves adding commercial devices into the military network. "Network" is a tricky term, however; the department has more than 15,000 of them along with more than 772 data centers. In fiscal year 2012, the budget for defense information technology exceeds $38 billion. She said within that budget there is room to obtain what the military needs to complete its missions. Other challenges include the explosion of available technologies, shrinking budgets and growing cyber threats. Though many view those as competing interests, Takai asserted that the solutions for one can be the solutions for all of them. Data center consolidation, for example, can improve efficiency and effectiveness. When discussing the cyber threat, Takai pointed out three areas of concern: exploitation, disruption and destruction. Beyond the military networks, major concerns include risks to supply chain, cyber attacks on the defense industrial base and critical infrastructure protection. By consolidating and standardizing across the military, the Defense Department can develop better strategies to protect everyone against cyber, Takai stated. A major theme throughout Takai's address was the need for enterprise email. Identification management, she said, gives the department an opportunity to give everyone an ID that links to necessary information. Beyond active-duty military members, this effort will tie in with Veterans Affairs to keep troops linked in throughout their lives. Takai also said that enterprise email is important because it will drive forward other technologies attractive to the Defense Department such as text, instant messaging and SharePoint. Though moving from accounts to accounts my seem "like a pain in the neck," she stated, it will allow more connections while reducing administration duties associated with creating and disabling email accounts. Mobile is another driving factor behind Defense Department CIO efforts and the organization is embarking on programs to ease the integration of this capability into the force. One pilot will deliver parameters on how such technology is to be deployed. This guidance will not mandate what devices groups must purchase but how to use and secure them. The other effort will examine how to put commercial devices onto classified networks. According to Takai, her office is moving into the planning cycle for that program.        

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