The DON’s first-ever, Chief Technology Officer, Jane Rathbun, is dual-hatted as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Information Warfare and Enterprise Services under the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition. Ms. Rathbun serves as the single department point of contact for the military services, Defense Department staff and agencies, and the Office of Management and Budget for Space, C4I, IO, and IT program and policy matters. Formerly known as the DASN C4ISR/Space, DASN Information Warfare and Enterprise Services has oversight of PEO C4I, PEO Space Systems, and PEO Enterprise Information Systems. Ms. Rathbun has served in government since 1994.
CHIPS senior editor Sharon Anderson interviewed Ms. Rathbun in mid-January.
CHIPS: Can you discuss the scope of your responsibilities as the DON’s CTO and how it relates to your position as the DASN?
Rathbun: As DASN IWAR and Enterprise Services I support a portfolio of programs and projects that deliver the systems for information-centric capabilities, services, processes and security to include Command and Control, Communications, Networks, Cloud, Cyber, Intelligence, Meteorology and Oceanography, Spectrum, Position Navigation and Timing, Productivity, Logistics, Personnel, Acquisition, Financial and many other enterprise services. I also work to drive innovation in this portfolio such as adopting industry best practices and agile development methodologies so that we can speed up development and get capability to the naval fleet faster. My overarching goal as a DASN is to get the right information to the right person at the right time for the right purpose. To do that we need to have a modern IT infrastructure and treat the modern IT infrastructure as a core capability, a core warfighting platform in the Department of Navy. That is where I get into the set of derivative responsibilities in architecting what that IT warfighting platform looks like in the future.
That brought us to dual-hatting me as the Chief Technology Officer and the DASN for Information Warfare so we have tight integration between the engineering, technical and program staffs who are going to deliver the IT platform, or digital platform, and connecting the folks that are going to describe the requirements. Today, every program that needs to connect from a data perspective to a network makes a choice between building their own network, or choosing the network of least resistance, and not necessarily the ideal network for the mission. As CTO, I am focused on driving effort to define the shouldbe network architecture that supports the majority of our business and operational needs leveraging modern principles and technologies such as zero trust.
CHIPS: Are you responsible for the same portfolio of programs you had as DASN C4ISR/Space?
Rathbun: I am DASN C4ISR and Space under a new title DASN Information Warfare and Enterprise Services to better reflect the span of my portfolio. I still have the same oversight with PEO EIS, PEO C4I and PEO Space. We wanted to consolidate the concept that there are many information-based capabilities that we deliver to the warfighter and those can be summarized as information warfare.
The other half of my portfolio that was never really recognized in my title is enterprise services which are the business and readiness solutions that we deliver to the naval enterprise – as well as the IT infrastructure that is currently enterprise – NMCI (Navy Marine Corps Intranet) and ONE-Net.
CHIPS: It is a broad range – weapons systems and business services. Can you talk about the CTO’s short-term goals and the long-range vision for the DON?
Rathbun: My short-term and long-range goals are really quite the same, and that is to establish an enterprise naval digital infrastructure strategy and design and implement a modern architecture. Working with my Navy and USMC CIO counterparts on the first part and then to purposely design an enterprise architecture that supports that strategy and work with the acquisition community to deliver the architecture.
CHIPS: One enterprise architecture for the DON and the programs that you oversee?
Rathbun: One enterprise strategy, one enterprise architecture for how we want to deliver what I would call the ‘IT stack’ – the core foundational layer of a digital environment, a digital ecosystem that stays modern and capable and continuously evolving. This could mean more than one network, but those networks are designed to complement and provide the necessary performance our warfighting, readiness business capabilities need.
We have had strategies for some enterprise IT but not really an overarching strategy. The key point here is treating the digital platform as a warfighting platform, as a key capability unto itself that supports every other program and every other capability that is managed and delivered with enterprise intent.
CHIPS: Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly has long advocated for modernization of the DON’s IT/cyber infrastructure, including business systems. How will you be implementing these directives?
Rathbun: I would talk about this as business operations because it’s not just about the systems, it’s also about the people, processes and data that drive how we design systems. I am in full support of delivering his vision where we have auditable cyber-secure systems that support reengineered streamlined processes that deliver the data to who needs it, when they need it. Everything we are doing is aligned with his strategic vision.
CHIPS: Mr. Modly has also talked about a digital transformation to replace old technologies to enable data analytics, agility, artificial intelligence and robotics.
Rathbun: The digital transformation implies that we transform the entire ecosystem not just the systems. I will be either in lead or in support of my colleagues in the DON CIO and my colleagues across the Department of Navy in defining what that is and how we are going to do it.
We won’t start with systems. We start with the problem we are trying to solve and the outcomes we want to achieve. Then ask are those system fixes, people or processes fixes, policy or standard fixes, etcetera? We need to look at the entire ecosystem with the intent to drive to a modern digital operating environment. That means we need to look at how we deliver software.
In my role as DASN, I work with RDA leadership on how to evolve the workforce and our processes and policies to support agile acquisition, agile SecDevOps (secure development and operations) activities and that is more a process culture change than it is technology.
CHIPS: Do you see culture and processes as the driving change the DON needs more so than technology?
Rathbun: Culture change must be front and center of what we do to bring the entire Department of the Navy around and recognize we can achieve our mission if we work together and take away roadblocks that don’t allow us to be interoperable and interface with each other.
We have a stove-piped culture where individual units are doing good work but now we need to bring them up one level where they can see the larger picture and understand how they contribute to that larger picture. We must make sure we are aligned and don’t have repetitive or redundant capabilities that are not necessary.
CHIPS: Is there any program that you think is executing the way the DON envisions for a digital transformation, for example, the My Navy HRs for military personnel self-service?
Rathbun: Your example of the My Navy HR capability is a perfect example, the model we need to look at for many things, not just for the business side of the house, also for the IT architecture and, in some cases, the warfighting side. What N1 (DCNO for Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education) did, in conjunction with the acquisition community, is they built a team, a partnership where we on the acquisition side created one program office to support the entire N1 effort.
N1 leadership recognized that IT alone doesn’t solve problems, but that IT enhances their ability to deliver capabilities. They realized they had to do the hard work to reengineer their practices, policies and standards, and redefine people’s roles and organizations. That’s precisely what they have done and are doing. Then acquisition, on the IT side, had a strategy to be agile and deliver a capability to the Sailor wherever the Sailor is.
The program office took a mobile approach with some basic core principles on how they wanted to drive their digital environment to be modern and incorporated that with all the organizational process changes [N1] made to have a really good integrated plan on how they wanted to deliver capability now and into the future to their customer base.
That model isn’t just about IT; it’s about culture change, it’s about policy and processes. It’s about understanding the power of your data and the human need, for example, to be able to see your personnel records on your personal phone. Sailors should be able to do that now.
You should bring customers into your design to understand customer needs; have a conversation. That is another cultural change in the Department of the Navy; we are making in many areas. Let’s not gather requirements and throw them over the transom at the acquisition community. Let’s get the customer and the resource sponsor engaged in the development process so that we make sure what we are delivering meets those needs and we don’t overshoot.
As we move to an agile environment, we want a minimum viable product approach to delivering capability. We have to do that in concert with the customer, and in this case, the resource sponsor because they are not the same people.
CHIPS: Yes, I understand. PEO EIS (Ruth A. Youngs Lew) said many of the changes to ERP were driven by user requests to make the environment easier to use.
Rathbun: The same thing can be applied to the warfighting side. We are right now in a conversation about the Navy Tactical Grid and what we need the Navy Tactical Grid to do to support communications, core weapons systems control, autonomous weapons platform control, and to support the flow of massive amounts of data. We didn’t develop our tactical control networks with that overarching view that we potentially wanted the network, or an integrated set of networks, to do all those things. Because when we started all those things were not a requirement.
Because of the way technology has evolved, because of the way even our weapons system technology has evolved, we have to rethink the networks that support those, and treat the operational network as a core capability that supports multiple weapons systems and multiple capabilities at once, especially unmanned networks.
What we have been talking about is cultural change and how we think through problem sets, and how we look at the IT infrastructure, whether it is on the enterprise IT business side or IT warfighting side. The key is that we should always architect purposely to support multiple use cases, instead of point-to-point cases.
CHIPS: Can you discuss how you are supporting the DON CIO and the four new directorates?
Rathbun: In supporting Aaron Weis, my key priorities are modernize the network, get us to the cloud and cloud services and bring on enterprise identity management.
I am not the functional owner for cloud services and the productivity services that would arise from the network. My colleague, DON Chief Digital Innovation Officer Mike Galbraith, is the functional owner of the requirements for enterprise productivity services while we [acquisition community] will deliver an architecture solution for enterprise identity and access management. In my portfolio, the functional owner for how identity and access management have to work belongs to Chris Cleary, the CISO.
I am excited about that partnership because in productivity services and identity management, we never had an enterprise functional lead. Now we have two people who can lead and collaborate with me on the requirements and I can reach out to the architecture, engineering and programs in the acquisition community to design and deliver a capability that will meet all the use cases they identify. I’m very excited to collaborate and move back and forth.
The other value of me having a CTO hat and a DASN hat is that I can ensure tight integration between the CTO, CIO and RDA on driving these cultural changes from a software development perspective on the acquisition side, from the IT infrastructure on the CIO side, to be able to consume data, move data, analyze data. With me as the CTO and DASN, we should be purposely designing a conceptual cloud, purposely designing a data environment and ensuring we are not building data environments that can’t talk to each other.
All those relationships are enabled because we are all colleagues and they can tell me what they need and we can take those requirements and articulate an architecture that would support them.