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CHIPS Articles: Operation CATTLE DRIVE — Blazing a Trail to the IT Infrastructure the Department of the Navy Needs

Operation CATTLE DRIVE — Blazing a Trail to the IT Infrastructure the Department of the Navy Needs
By Office of the Chief Digital and Innovation Officer - January-March 2021
“The Department of the Navy (DON) maintains an excessive number of Information Technology (IT) systems, networks, and applications in an overly complex architecture, which affects the Department’s ability to transform operations and remain agile in responding to and gaining a competitive edge over our adversaries. The abundance and variation of these IT capabilities creates unnecessary complexity that hinders the DON’s ability to achieve an advantage by perpetuating isolated data silos, resulting in an increased cyber-attack surface, and enabling unnecessary operational risks and potential material weaknesses,” according to a new memo written by the DON undersecretary.

“Further, the Department wastes billions of dollars in re-creating and sustaining duplicative IT infrastructure and support services to sustain these systems and applications, reducing resourcing options to drive digital modernization,” he wrote.

The undersecretary called the state of the DON’s IT infrastructure “unacceptable” in a memo titled, Operation CATTLE DRIVE, issued Dec. 2. The undersecretary directs the DON Chief Information Officer to partner with the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller) and the Director, Office of the Chief Management Officer, to take a proactive stance and aggressively identify, assess, and ultimately eliminate redundant systems and applications throughout the organization by initiating Operation CATTLE DRIVE.

“The objective of CATTLE DRIVE is to accelerate the modernization and transformation of our IT capabilities by ensuring that decisions made to sunset or rationalize unneeded, obsolete, unproductive, insecure, and un-auditable IT systems and applications are realized. This objective will be enforced through the elimination of funding and resourcing, the decertification of targeted systems and applications, and their removal from the network,” the undersecretary wrote.

The Department’s effort to eliminate duplicative and expensive legacy IT opens the Department’s IT “frontier” to the long-term vision of managing and streamlining the inventory of DON IT systems and applications for improved security, agility, efficiency, and transparency, and will ensure that the correct DON IT systems are being properly funded, certified, and authorized to operate. CATTLE DRIVE will validate and enforce the retirement of duplicative or “at risk” systems on an accelerated schedule, resulting in the reallocation of resources to higher DON priorities.

The result of CATTLE DRIVE will help mature IT portfolio management and will improve the delivery and efficiency of key business capabilities and digital processes. It will also uncover and help eliminate issues such as application duplication, siloed business units, and unnecessary IT costs, and it will identify opportunities to leverage similar applications, services, software or software licensing, data, hosting, and/or cyber controls, resulting in reduced management costs. This process will ultimately lead to more efficient end-to-end IT capabilities, empowering leaders to make better informed, data-driven decisions that will allow us to maintain an informational advantage against our adversaries.

To meet this objective, the undersecretary tasked “Portfolio managers and IT capability owners with developing transition plans with clear system and application sunset dates with no extension. These transition plans will require the endorsement of all key stakeholders, and will eliminate investment redundancy and overlapping business and operational capabilities.”

The first target area is the IT portfolio supporting the Financial Management Business Domain, followed by the Logistics IT Portfolio, he directed.

“The Business Operations Management Council, the DON Information Superiority Executive Steering Group (ESG), and the Enterprise Resource Planning ESG, along with other functional governance bodies, will be the primary governance forums for oversight of CATTLE DRIVE. This does not represent an alteration of existing decision rights, and other authoritative governance bodies will be briefed by the portfolio managers and IT capability ownership, as necessary,” the undersecretary wrote.

The sense of urgency to transform the DON’s IT platform is echoed in the DON’s Information Superiority Vision (ISV), released January 2020, and integrated into the updated SECNAV Business Operations Plan FY 2021-2023, released in November.

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