CIO will treat Navy, USMC as one IT enterprise

Friday - 3/4/2011, 7:12am EST

WFED's Jared Serbu

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By Jared Serbu
Federal News Radio

Terry Halvorsen, about three months into his new job as Department of the Navy chief information officer, told a convention of Defense information technology professionals in San Diego last month that the organization he now leads has done a terrible job of telling its IT story.

"Who runs the single biggest integrated network in the world? The Department of the Navy runs it," he said. "I guarantee you if you go into the halls of the Pentagon or other places and ask that question, rarely would you get the answer…we haven't made our case very well publicly." That may be why Halvorsen's office released full transcripts and audio of the San Diego sessions this week.

"Who has more enterprise services than anybody else? Department of the Navy." he said. "There's this big belief that the Army is way ahead in identity management. The fact is, I believe, we in DoN are way ahead of the Army in identity management."

But despite Halvorsen's pride in the department's IT capabilities, he said it has a lot of work to, and fewer resources than it would like to do it. The framework he said he wants to use for IT ventures falls under a single Department of the Navy IT enterprise, one that leverages the capabilities of both the Navy and the Marine Corps.

"We are going to focus on what I call the Big E" he said. "I like it because it makes a neat acronym-it's the Department of the Navy Enterprise, the DONE. I believe there's really great power to get more effective and efficient in using the department of the Navy enterprise approach. That said, I also understand that bigger is not always better. So where do we make the right choices?"

One way to answer that question, Halverson said, is a new mission business case analysis tool. He said its task would be to evaluate whether a particular system would save money while also meeting the department's missions.

"When [the mission business case analysis tool] is approved, I'm going to share it with everybody," he said. "I'm going to share it with industry as soon as the lawyers tell me I'm allowed to do that. I think they ought to know, this is what I want. They can't give me what I want until I tell them what I want.

These are the factors we've got to look at. How do we grade all those factors, how do we grade the score that says this may be less expensive, but it fails mission. Well, that's off the table." When the department does decide to make IT buys over the next few years, Halvorsen said they will most likely be in small, staggered, incremental chunks rather than large infrastructure investments.

"We're in a financial crisis. That is a fact," he said. "You will hear some people say it's a zero-sum game for DoD. My personal belief-I am not quoting the Secretary of the Navy-my personal belief is we are not in a zero sum game. We're in a negative game. We're going to go down. DoD and DoN are going to have less money. We are going have less people than we have now. That's a fact. That's not a zero-sum game."

Halverson said the department's IT side is simply going to have to decide to stop doing some of the things it's doing now. He said none of its activities are unimportant, but some are less important than others.

He did not give many specifics on what he thinks the Navy should stop doing. One, however, is creating, and running redundant applications on its networks. Another is running ad-hoc applications that the one Naval organization created to serve a specific purpose and don't work very well.

"We are running many instances of the same or slightly modified applications over our networks to the degree that many cases it's crippling the network," he said. "That's got to change. In some cases we're running applications to our fleet Marines and fleet sailors that do not work. That is an inexcusable thing to let happen. We are going to go after that one--that is a jihad. We are going to get at the applications because that is day-to-day stopping sailors and Marines and civilians that in many cases are out at the deployed front line from getting what they need. We cannot tolerate that."

The Navy as a service also is pursuing some of the same IT efficiency goals as the rest of DoD, and the rest of government. As Federal News Radio first reported in January, the department has ordered a halt to new spending on servers and data centers. It is also pursuing a data center consolidation initiative with a target of a 25 percent reduction.