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CHIPS Articles: SECNAV Realigns Organizations to Maximize IT Innovation

SECNAV Realigns Organizations to Maximize IT Innovation
New office of DON Strategy and Innovation to be created
By Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy (Management) - October-December 2014
Over past 25 years, we have witnessed some of the most profound changes in human history. The global economy is becoming less about producing goods and more about creating useful information. Once-successful businesses that failed to recognize this shift and did not move away from industrial-age management processes, did not embrace technology for sharing information, and did not develop a tolerance for risk, for example, Kodak and Blockbuster, are no longer in existence.

It’s clear that the proliferation of information systems and access to unprecedented amounts of data have disrupted society, industry and public organizations. Throughout the federal government, agencies are developing new approaches to how they organize and leverage emerging technology and information. To adapt to this data-rich environment, many organizations have created the position of Chief Technology Officer or Chief Data Officer as part of their Corporate Suite to manage this change. Similarly, the Department of Navy has taken a bold approach to adapt to the digital age.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus recently announced an organizational realignment of Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy (Management) and Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer offices to capitalize on new opportunities and optimize the DON's information management and information technology (IM/IT) policies and programs. Recognizing the importance of setting the strategic course for the department, Secretary Mabus also established the Office of Strategy and Innovation, led by former White House Fellow, Dr. Maura Sullivan.

The realignment follows a previous decision to integrate the DUSN (M) and Department of the Navy Assistant for Administration offices. The inclusion of the DON CIO into the DUSN (M) organization creates a new more collaborative organizational structure to provide integrated management, cross-functional expertise, and the workforce flexibility necessary to address the management and IM/IT challenges facing the DON now and into the future.

SECNAV directed the realignment in a memorandum issued Oct. 22 as a result of an internal study he commissioned in July 2014 to examine the current state of the DON Secretariat IM/IT functions and to recommend improvements. The study scrutinized the IM and administrative components of the Secretariat, and examined how these organizations interact with the larger DON enterprise. The study’s recommendations are intended to improve responsiveness, productivity, and agility to more effectively keep pace with advancements in technology and to support the management, IT and cyberspace missions.

Under the new design, Dr. John Zangardi, acting DON CIO, will align to the DUSN (M) organization but maintain a direct reporting relationship and line of communication with the Secretary on those matters required by law, regulation and policy. For day-to-day management, DUSN (M) is the reporting senior of the DON CIO. A realignment of this scope is a complex undertaking and to minimize disruption of current functions, DUSN (M) will create a transformation plan by May 1, 2015. The newest member of the DUSN (M) leadership team, Mr. William O’Donnell, will lead the implementation efforts.

DON Transformational Change

There are several global trends, such as mobility, the use of analytics, cloud-based computing and a knowledge-centric workforce, that are driving transformation in the private sector. The intent of the new alignment is to focus initially on three functional areas to enable change within the DON:

Develop the Knowledge Ecosystem: Information is ubiquitous in the DON and it comes at a high cost. It is important that data and information lead to useful knowledge. While pockets of knowledge and information sharing exist, much work can be done to enable better collaboration and ensuring the right information is easily accessible when and where it is needed. This involves establishing processes, providing tools and developing a culture of information sharing, both within and outside of organizations.

Use Performance Metrics Effectively: There is a time-honored business adage, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Successful organizations use performance metrics, often in real-time, to manage important goals and objectives. The DON often has difficulty in developing the right metrics for business and IT systems, and by default, acquisition metrics of time and cost are often used as a poor substitute. The organizations will drive better use of performance metrics throughout the DON. This will involve establishing baseline measures for DON goals and objectives. Once established these will drive executive decision making in the future.

Create the 21st Century Workplace: The DON possesses a highly trained and educated workforce. It is critical to ensure they are provided the tools and information to enable productivity and put its talent to use. The workplace of the future will transition from who one knows to what one knows and the new DUSN (M) will identify best practices from around the private sector and federal government to enable this shift to occur. It is widely recognized that diversity of thought fosters innovation and the new organization will also focus on initiatives that bring new perspectives into the DON decision-making process.

Change in large organizations is never an easy task but Secretary Mabus is committed to continually improving the department. Considering the pace of technological advancements and the emergence and convergence of global mega trends, successful organizations must adapt to the surrounding environment. This new realignment of management and IT functions improves operations today and it positions the department for success in the future.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus

Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy (Management) Thomas W. Hicks
Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy (Management) Thomas W. Hicks

Office of Strategy and Innovation lead Dr. Maura Sullivan
Office of Strategy and Innovation lead Dr. Maura Sullivan

Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer (Acting) Dr. John Zangardi
Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer (Acting) Dr. John Zangardi
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