Message from the DON CIO: Transforming Business IT for a More Effective Department

By Terry Halvorsen - Published, April 20, 2012

Two years ago, Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the national debt the greatest threat to national security. He also emphasized the importance of good fiscal stewardship and the need for Department of Defense leaders to work together to cut spending, which had doubled from 2000 to 2010.

Since then, Department of the Navy leadership has come together to scrutinize budgets and focus on maximizing the return on investment for every dollar spent. While not easy, it is vital that the department transforms business operations for greater effectiveness and efficiencies. As the defense budget has been significantly reduced and will likely stay flat for years to come, it is imperative that department personnel work together to find savings. By achieving savings through transformation of DON business IT systems and processes, the department can maximize funding for mission critical systems and continue to ensure the nation's security.

Beyond cutting costs, IT business transformation presents a unique opportunity to identify and implement more efficient, agile and effective ways to purchase, operate and maintain business IT. This is one of those moments in which department personnel have the opportunity to positively impact the long term future of the DON. While it may be a significant near-term challenge, the DON will reap the benefits for years to come.

Up to now, many decisions were made without full purview of activities occurring across the department. This lack of enterprise focus resulted in a proliferation of systems, applications and data centers that meet individual requirements, but add network complexity and cost. To streamline operations and processes, greater transparency and collaboration at the enterprise level are necessary. While challenging in an agency as large and dispersed as the department, great strides are being made in collaborating to identify areas for improvement and savings, and in implementing changes.

An example is the Feb. 22, 2012, memo "Mandatory Use of Department of the Navy Enterprise Licensing Agreements" signed by the DON CIO, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research Development and Acquisition, and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Financial Management and Comptroller, which mandates the use of enterprise licensing agreements. Purchasing as an enterprise increases buying power and provides better visibility into IT spend.

Another example of collaboration is how the Enterprise Software Licensing Integrated Product Team, while working with stakeholders from across the DON, developed business case analyses that provide enterprise-level visibility of how much money is spent with specific IT vendors, insight into market and technology trends, and recommendations for managing vendor relationships. This information aids the department in optimizing resources and negotiating favorable contract terms. Additional changes include: no longer requiring use of commercial vendors for certain cybersecurity workforce certifications when a military option is available and optimizing mobile plan use based on need.

The memo "Guidance for Cybersecurity Workforce Operating System/Computing Environment Certification Compliance Process," which was updated Feb. 9, 2012, was the result of efficiency reviews directed by the Under Secretary of the Navy and the DON CIO.

"Department of the Navy Policy on Mobile (Cellular) Services Cost Management," signed on March 13, 2012, provides interim policy stating that all mobile devices that overuse or underuse minutes for three consecutive months will be reviewed with the option to change to a more appropriate plan.

Efficiency and transformation efforts continue in other areas such as data center consolidation (DCC), application rationalization and data standardization. DCC has the potential to save the department in excess of $1 billion by reducing the number of data centers, associated applications and operational costs. In addition to saving money, consolidation of the more than 150 data centers in the department into fewer, more modern, standardized and efficient enterprise data centers will enhance network security and reduce complexity.

A natural partner of data center consolidation is application rationalization — fewer applications require less storage and reduce total cost of ownership. Many applications have been customized to meet organizational needs, are duplicative or exist in multiple versions. Maintaining duplicative and underutilized applications uses valuable resources. The DON must balance enterprise-wide requirements against the needs of individual commands.

Finally, data standardization is necessary to ensure accuracy and enhance usability of DON information. One of the major obstacles in DON business decision making is the siloed nature of data. Standardization results in better business intelligence and transparency and, therefore, strategic decisions based on accurate data. It is also essential to auditability.

These are just some ways we have begun to reduce costs and enhance operations, without impacting mission capabilities. If done correctly, in five years the department will look back at this turning point and see that collaboration and realignment led to some of the most strategic advancements.

<View more messages from the DON CIO.

TAGS: CIO Authorities, DCC, Efficiencies, Workforce

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