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CHIPS Articles: DON IM/IT Conference, Once Again a Huge Success

DON IM/IT Conference, Once Again a Huge Success
Conference provides opportunities for learning and networking with colleagues
By Holly Quick - April-June 2009
With more than 900 people in attendance, the Department of the Navy (DON) Information Management/ Information Technology (IM/IT) Conference had something to offer everyone, from the program manager with questions about naval architecture to the contract specialist buying software. The conference offered a venue to share information about the latest DON IM/IT initiatives, policy and guidance, from senior leadership level, to the project lead, to the average IT user.

Hosted by the DON Chief Information Officer, the conference was held Feb. 10-13, 2009, at the San Diego Convention Center. Topics were chosen based on feedback received from attendees of past DON IM/IT Conferences.

Subject matter experts from the DON CIO led 43 informative sessions, which fell under 12 requested topics, including: DON Application and Database Management System (DADMS) and DoD IT Portfolio Repository (DITPR)-DON; privacy; enterprise architecture; Enterprise Software Initiative; DON IT Umbrella Program of contracts; IM/IT workforce; Joint Information Environment; knowledge management; and spectrum/wireless and telecommunications.

It would be impossible to describe all the conference highlights, but one of the most popular sessions featured a town hall meeting with DON CIO Robert J. Carey.

Because the DON CIO is the Community Leader for the DON IT workforce, there were many opportunities for DON IT personnel to engage with DON CIO IT workforce team members. In one session, Chris Kelsall and Jennifer Harper led a spirited discussion with lively participation from the audience on current and future DON IT workforce efforts.

Kelsall summarized the challenges that confront DON IM/IT personnel and described how the DON CIO is taking remedial action. The challenges include:

• Developing a fighting strategy for all areas of cyber and IT;
• The varying call of public service from generation to generation and from person to person;
• Public law placing significant requirements on federal IT employees;
• Maintaining and operating state-of-the-art and legacy systems concurrently;
• Training and educating the DON IT workforce to prepare for the "Pearl Harbors" of cyber;
• Meeting the challenge of helping to ensure that a sufficient talent pool is available for DON IT work; and
• Addressing the challenges of appealing to a diverse multigenerational workforce.

The DON IT Community Town Hall featured guest speaker and former NASA astronaut, Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman to orbit the Earth.

Mr. Carey and Dr. Ride spoke to a packed house, including San Diego area students. The students were symbolic of the discussion which centered on encouraging students to pursue degrees in math and science and promoting multicultural diversity in the Naval workforce by recruiting talented women and individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds into government service.

Mr. Carey and Dr. Ride talked about the importance of nurturing student interest in the sciences at a young age, especially girls and minorities.

According to Ride, while both girls and boys exhibit about the same amount of interest in science at a young age, interest for girls and minority students diminishes over time. The loss of interest is not due to poor grades or lack of ability, said Ride. The reasons are societal: cultural images of scientists and how they should look and act, and students' fear of not being able to succeed in difficult career fields.

Dr. Ride said there are many ways to reverse this trend, including mentoring students at a young age and encouraging them that careers in the sciences are challenging, rewarding and even patriotic, citing her own reasons for pursuing a degree in physics at Stanford University and choosing to enter the astronaut program.

“The goal of the DON is to be an employer of choice,” Mr. Carey said. “The DON strives to offer challenging careers in IM and IT to both civilian employees and military members.”

According to Carey, the DON has about 11,000 IM/IT workforce members, not including contractors. He said the workforce is expected to grow within the next five years due to the implementation of the Next Generation Enterprise Network.

Open and continuous recruitment will be needed to staff positions required for NGEN governance and security, Carey explained.

The DON CIO is working closely with human resources specialists on innovative recruiting plans which will be designed to attract a diverse pool of applicants. Announcements will be posted on USAJobs ( www.usajobs.gov ) and the DON’s Civilian Human Resources Web site ( https://www.donhr.navy.mil) beginning summer 2009, Carey said.

Mr. Carey also discussed some workforce documents being developed: the DON IT Workforce Strategic Plan; the charter establishing an Information Assurance Workforce Management Oversight and Compliance Council; Cyberspace Workforce Policy and Guidance; and Civilian IT Career Paths.

The IT workforce can hear from and engage with Mr. Carey on a regular basis through his podcasts and blogs which are published on the DON CIO Web site.

When an audience member asked Dr. Ride what advice she would give young students, she said, “Reach for the stars. You can be anything you want to be.”

To view a full list of the conference presentations and request copies, go to the DON CIO Web site at www.doncio.navy.mil/.

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