Streamlining DON Business Processes for a More Effective and Efficient Future

Published, May 30, 2012

During the next five to 10 years, the Department of the Navy is facing significant budget constraints. To support vital warfighting capabilities that protect the safety of the nation, it is necessary to find efficiencies in other areas. As part of this effort, the DON Chief Information Office and its information technology partners, such as internal stakeholders and industry, will thoroughly review all operations from an enterprise perspective.

Speaking to more than 400 people at the DON IT Conference in Virginia Beach on May 16, 2012, Terry Halvorsen, DON CIO, outlined his strategy for the future of DON IT. Halvorsen's strategy consists of aligning enterprise business operations through data standardization and transparency, streamlined processes and leveraging the power of the DON enterprise.

When asked about the scope of changes, Halvorsen stated: "We will be looking both at larger scale initiatives such as data center consolidation and seemingly smaller scale changes that will result in a big return on investment – the change between the couch cushions is as valuable as single big spends. For instance, we released a policy on more efficient printing. The DON currently spends $100 million a year on total printing cost. This new policy has the potential to save $30 million per year in printing alone. That is significant couch cushion change."

He also spoke of several key initiatives, the first of which is developing a comprehensive data strategy that focuses on data standardization across the DON to support greater transparency for decision making. Through this process the DON will work to standardize data definitions across the enterprise. Currently, due to the disparity of definitions, data aggregation is difficult and hinders the ability to make quick and informed decisions. As Halvorsen stated, "We do not have the luxury of second chances. We need our decisions to be right the first time around."

As the department senior officer for the Freedom of Information Act, civil liberties, privacy and communications security, DON CIO will soon release several policies that detail the appropriate use and storage of data. For instance, in the case of personally identifiable information and personal heath information, the only people who should have access to this data are those with a job requirement where an actionable decision depends on the data. "If you can't take action on the data, you should not be collecting it," Halvorsen stated. When this requirement occurs, only data from authoritative data sources should be used, such as N1 for personnel information and the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery for medical data.

The next initiative focuses on streamlining and simplifying the DON network infrastructure. Currently, the DON operates one of the most complex networks in existence. In many cases, complexity equals increased costs and unnecessary spending. In previous years organizations procured IT systems and applications at will, which resulted in a network infrastructure that runs many redundancies and variants of similar programs. In addition to the high costs of maintenance, the plethora of programs and systems also presents a security risk. Moving forward, the DON will take an enterprise approach to application rationalization. "Customization is bad, standardization is good," Halvorsen said.

The third of the initiatives involves aligning business processes and IT. As with data definitions and IT procurement, business process development has been largely command or organization focused, and is primarily founded on each organizations' unique requirements. In the future, there will be a focus on process discovery, review and modification. With this knowledge and an understanding of second- and third-order effects of change, the most efficient processes will be adopted across the DON to enable more efficient operations. In most cases, a single process can be tweaked to meet the needs of 80 percent of the relevant population.

Finally, additional efficiencies will be gained from leveraging the DON's buying power through the use of enterprise license agreements. These agreements enable the DON to approach most major vendors as their largest customer and enhance the DON’s ability to negotiate better prices for IT purchases.

Moving forward as an aligned organization with a focus on effective, efficient and enterprise solutions, "the DON has the opportunity in the next two years to have significant and beneficial impact on the next 25 years," Halvorsen said.

You can download the transcript (below) of the entire session, which includes questions from the audience.

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Business IT Transformation Town Hall Transcript PDF 107 KB
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