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CHIPS Articles: The Information Technology Exchange Program with the Department of Defense

The Information Technology Exchange Program with the Department of Defense
Private Sector and DoD IT: Bringing the Best of Both Worlds Together
By Christopher T. Kelsall and Doris W. McGuire - January-March 2008
The Information Technology Exchange Program (ITEP) is a professional development opportunity initially authorized by the E-Government Act of 2002 and re-authorized in 2007.

Information technology is a common critical area and driver across the public and private sectors, it is a part of nearly everyone's daily life and many of the acquisition, support and security problems facing the Department of Defense (DoD) also face private industry. With the complexities of outsourcing and integration of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products into DoD IT support, there has never been a time when the public and private sectors have been more IT intertwined.

The purpose of the ITEP is to allow exceptional performers from the federal and private IT sectors to participate in a three- to 12-month detail in the other sector. The ITEP can provide benefits to both the public and private sectors through the improvement of individual and organizational IT competencies and skills.

Realization of this vision will be through a process of shared best practices and on-the-job interaction. Organizations and individuals from each sector will be able to not only exchange knowledge and experience, but also gain a better understanding of each other's operating practices.

ITEP can be tailored individually to an employee's professional development. For example, a federal employee who is expected to oversee an IT project in the future could be detailed to a private firm to participate in an IT project.

Conversely, a private sector employee knowledgeable in current and planned information security technologies could spend time working directly with a DoD agency to develop an understanding of the issues critical and unique to military operations.

But ITEP is not just for individuals; organizations can benefit from the exchange of ideas and best practices also. Government agencies are now trying to develop and implement practices, such as enterprise architectures, service oriented architecture and shared services, that the private sector has been working on for years.

DoD is exploring data sharing and security processes, such as electronic medical records and medical real-time data sharing processes, which will require even more innovation to ensure the accuracy of exchange and protection of information. Participation in these efforts by personnel from both sectors provides an exceptional opportunity for innovation.

ITEP participants include the departments of Commerce, Defense, Justice, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, and the Office of Personnel Management. Within the Defense Department, the departments of the Navy, Army and Air Force, DoD Chief Information Officer, Defense Information Systems Agency, Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Washington Headquarters Service, and the Information Resources Management College at the National Defense University are all participating in the program.

On the private sector side, it is not only firms with an information technology emphasis that participate. Firms with a vested interest in IT development, utilization, management and issues, such as banking institutions, shipping concerns and even theme parks, are encouraged to participate as partners. ITEP isn't just about the technology, but also the requirements that drive its development and use.

The problems and successes in day-to-day operations inside and outside the federal government are just as important as the hardware and software. To be eligible to participate, private companies must be registered in the Central Contractor Registration database at www.ccr.gov/.

U.S. citizens in the private sector or government civilian employees in the field of information technology working in areas including, but not limited to, planning and organizing, staffing, directing, integrating, or managing information technology are eligible to participate. This includes employees who design, develop, operate and provide security for systems, applications and hardware.

ITEP is NOT an employment program, but it IS a rotational/developmental program for currently employed individuals. Detail lengths range from three to 12 months, and may be extended in three-month increments up to a total of two years. Employee salaries continue to be paid by their parent organization and additional funds, such as travel and administrative support, are paid for by the organization to which the individual is detailed.

The DoD CIO is pleased to announce that the ITEP Agreement between Lockheed Martin, DoD CIO and a Lockheed employee was signed Dec. 13, 2007. The ITEP participant is assigned to the DoD CIO's Information Policy and Integration Directorate, and he will be on detail for one year, from Dec. 16, 2007 through Dec. 15, 2008.

The ITEP participant will develop, analyze and advise to foster improvements in information management policy and practices in DoD. This is the first ITEP Agreement in the federal government. We look forward to having the first ITEP candidate aboard and implementing a highly successful program.

To learn more about ITEP, visit the DON CIO Web site at www.doncio.navy.mil and search on “ITEP.”

For additional information, you may also call (703) 601-3592 or (703) 604-1489, ext.108.

Chris Kelsall supports the DON CIO IT Workforce Team.

Doris McGuire supports the DoD CIO Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Networks and Information Integration).

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