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CHIPS Articles: Building a Strong Foundation for Future Success

Building a Strong Foundation for Future Success
By Terry Halvorsen - October-December 2012
"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein said these words two generations ago, and yet they ring even more true today. But, we must not stop there. While it is vital that we use current solutions, best practices and technologies to enable our immediate success, we must also maintain a steadfast eye on the horizon for future requirements, industry trends and threats. Only by balancing the requirements of the present and possibilities of the future, will we become an efficient, effective and forward-looking organization that is positioned for long-term success.

Today's information technology environment is moving at a pace and complexity where data is driving business. Rapid advancements and increased interconnections enable access to information from both desktop and mobile devices. Effective decision making demands an increased focus on understanding and managing vital data to extract meaningful information that will enable intelligent, fact-based decision making to guide the DON in meeting future challenges.

In preparing for future challenges, we realize that the national debt is the United States' No. 1 security risk. As a result, we face budget reductions that will demand greater levels of efficiencies across our operations. This perfect storm leads us to consider: How do we successfully execute the mission when available resources may not meet the requirements necessary to accomplish that mission? As Sailors and Marines, we are decisive and effective in warfighting. We must become equally decisive and effective as business warfighters who understand how to maximize the efficiency of business operations.

During fiscal year (FY) 2012, we built a strong foundation of cost savings on which we will continue to build in FY13 and beyond, including:

  • Data center consolidation (DCC ) with the goal to reduce servers into as few modern enterprise data centers as necessary. In conjunction with DCC is the opportunity to reduce the number of supported applications; we have retired several thousand to date.
  • Mobile technology optimization through use of mobility management tools to significantly reduce the number of zero-use devices, and enable better management of cellular and data plans to reduce over and under usage.
  • Data standardization and categorization to foster consistency of data across the enterprise and increase data visibility and usability.
  • Business case analyses that clearly define considerations, such as scope, risks, costs and savings, to justify all DON IT efficiency initiatives.
  • Modernization of network infrastructure will enable unified capabilities, including the integration of voice, video and/or data services delivered across an interoperable, secure and highly available IP network infrastructure.
  • Update of all IT budget categories in Naval IT Exhibits/Standard Reporting (NITE/STAR) — the DON IT budget database — to better identify IT spending and improve the transparency, consistency and auditability of information.
  • Mandatory use of DON enterprise licensing agreements (ELA) to provide better asset and spending visibility. Current expectations are that ELA use will render approximately $153 million in savings over the Future Years Defense Program (FY13–FY17).
  • Efficiency related policies fostering greater oversight and transparency into IT spending, validation and measurement of the progress of IT efficiency efforts through mandatory metrics and data center investment oversight. See the article titled "DON Policies Set Stage for Future IT Efficiencies" for links to IT efficiency related policies.

I thank you all for these efforts. We should be proud of the accomplishments because this work has helped prepare the DON for a successful future; however, there is still much more to do. Our people, processes and technology must be aligned and operating transparently to meet future challenges head-on.

Our people must continue to be flexible, possess the right skills and be prepared for new skills to meet the challenges. We must be prepared to stay ahead of the IT game. Our cyber/IT workforce must be agile, forward-looking and knowledgeable of industry trends, technology advances and new cyber threats.

Our processes must be efficient and not resistant to change simply because they have "always been done that way." DON IT personnel and business owners must work together to better understand the processes and integration points of IT systems to standardize them across the enterprise and save money. This will enable informed decision making that breaks down the silos of excellence that have formed within our department.

Our technology must meet the DON’s true mission requirements. We look to industry to serve, not only as solution provider, but as educator on the art of the possible. Earlier engagement with industry can help us devise economical and effective solutions that meet the DON’s prioritized needs instead of the usual issuance of a prescriptive request for proposal.

As we move into FY13, we will continue to enhance our business focus and skill by applying the same planning capability, attention to detail and dedication to our business operations that has made the Department of the Navy so effective in combat. We will remain focused on identifying and implementing enterprise-wide efficiency opportunities, such as streamlining printing activities to reduce overall spending, growing the number of DON enterprise licensing agreements to leverage the department’s buying power, and increasing accountability and transparency as we move toward audit readiness.

I look to you to help the DON identify further opportunities to increase the effectiveness of its business operations from people, technology and innovation perspectives. In doing so, we will achieve efficiencies and savings that will allow us to significantly enhance the DON’s mission. Although still faced with monumental challenges, we have the unique opportunity to address key initiatives that will significantly benefit the department during the next 25 years.

Terry Halvorsen

DON CIO Terry Halvorsen
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