DON CIO Mourns Loss of Admired Colleague

Published, December 28, 2009

Dr. Richard EtterThe Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer team is mourning the loss of their esteemed colleague Dr. Richard W. Etter, who served more than 34 years in the Department of the Navy, most recently as the DON CIO Director of Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure and the DON Deputy Senior Information Assurance Officer for Computer Network Defense. Dr. Etter died of a heart attack Monday, Dec. 21, 2009, while at home. He leaves behind his beloved wife Audrey.

Dr. Etter joined the DON CIO in February 2007 as the Team Lead for Information Assurance. A year later, his responsibilities expanded to include Critical Infrastructure Protection, and then expanded further in September 2009 to include Privacy. In his capacity as Director of Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure, he provided policy, business and technical advice on a wide variety of information assurance, computer network defense, cybersecurity, privacy, and critical infrastructure protection matters. In 2007, he assumed the roles and responsibilities of the DON Deputy Senior Information Assurance Officer for Computer Network Defense (DON Deputy SIAO for CND). With the passing of Mr. John Lussier, former DON Principal Deputy CIO and DON SIAO, he was acting DON SIAO from June 2009 until the recent appointment of Ms. Barbara Hoffman.

Prior to joining the DON CIO, Dr. Etter served as the Director, Information Systems and Technology and the Command Information Officer for the Navy Engineering Logistics Office (NELO). He served at NELO from June 1990 until February 2007. From April 1988 to June of 1990, Dr. Etter served at the Naval Space Command, Dahlgren, Va., as the Head of the Information Systems Branch. From March 1985 to April 1988, Dr. Etter served at the Navy Regional Data Automation Center, Norfolk, Va. As a Lead Computer Specialist/Team Leader, he worked on projects ranging from system requirements development and system design to network and application implementation.

Dr. Etter served on active duty in the United States Marine Corps from May 1975 to June 1981 as an Intelligence Analyst. He then shifted his career to that of a Navy civilian at the Fleet Combat Direction Systems Support Activity, Dam Neck, Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he served as a software maintenance programmer working on Naval Tactical Data Systems.

Dr. Etter had a broad education with a doctorate in public administration, three master's degrees, a bachelor of science in computer science, and graduate certificates in information strategy and national security policy. Additionally, he was a certified Defense Acquisition Professional and a Certified Information Systems Security Professional.

Dr. Etter is remembered, not only in the Department of the Navy, but also by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Army and the Air Force, for his leadership and dynamic approach to information assurance and cybersecurity. He was the driving force behind initiatives such as the Certification and Accreditation (C&A) reciprocity effort and the C&A transformation process.

For the transformation process, he led the effort to demonstrate the developing Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) acquisition as the initial model of transforming the C&A process to consolidate C&A at all classification levels from unclassified through top secret special compartmented information. He also chaired the DON team to adapt the new DoD C&A Process (DIACAP) within the Department, including directing the development of a transition guide and an DIACAP Handbook, as well as the acquisition of an automated tool to streamline the process.

He was also the author of the Computer Network Defense Roadmap for the Department. The CND Roadmap outlines a strategy for Defense in Depth, calling for movement away from collection of point solutions that do not provide the comprehensive visibility of users and activity on DON systems and networks, to solutions that enable knowing and understanding acceptable use and behavior of users, systems and networks.

Last, but not least, he has been the driving force in the initiative to get the DON-developed Critical Infrastructure Self Assessment Tool (DON CIP SAT) released for use by the entire DoD. His leadership was influential in developing the tool, which allows installation commanders to quickly and inexpensively assess potential vulnerabilities to their critical assets and critical infrastructure.

Dr. Etter had a common sense approach to IA and cybersecurity, yet was adamant in ensuring the DON was effective and efficient in accomplishing these vital requirements. He was recognized within the Federal Government, the Department of Defense, and the Department of the Navy as an IA professional and innovator, receiving the Federal 100 award and the DoD Secure Information Sharing Award for 2009, among others. In addition, he was recognized by the Office of the Secretary of Defense for his outstanding support of the DIACAP initiative for serving as Champion of the DIACAP Technical Assistance Group Platform Information Technology Working Group

Truly, Dr. Richard Etter was an inspiration to all who served with him, and those who were fortunate to come into contact with him. He will be sorely missed in the Department of the Navy and within the Office of the DON CIO.

Related Policy
Related News
Related Resources