Navy grapples with 'relentless pace' of technology change

Much is done, but more is needed

The Navy is making strides toward implementing various information technology policies and systems that will shape the force’s interoperability and improve capabilities in defending against cyber threats, but it still has a long way to go, according to two Defense Department officials.

“The pace of change is relentless,” said Dave Wennergren, former Navy chief information officer and current deputy DOD CIO. Wennergren spoke today on a panel organized by the Washington, DC, chapter of AFCEA.

Wennergren cautioned that as the Navy moves toward implementing next-generation information technology, certain ideals must be kept in mind. They include the open sharing of information, partnership with industry, a modern approach to security and the need to behave like an enterprise to facilitate joint infrastructure.

“We have to get over ourselves” and accept the Internet’s place in military operations, taking full advantage of the agility and speed it can offer, Wennergren said, adding that he feels the Navy is close to nailing down a firm IT policy that deals with current concerns such as cybersecurity.

Current Navy CIO Rob Carey said user-generated content is where the Internet is going, and that harnessing that power is strategically vital. Navy personnel who are uncomfortable with that must find some way to accept it, he said.

“We have no choice in where the Internet is going; we have to get on the surfboard and ride the wave and not crash on the beach,” Carey said.

The service's move to modernize its information systems offers an opportunity to shape a new approach to enterprise IT, Carey said. It will also allow for the reevaluation of how IT acquisitions are carried out and help facilitate a leaner next-generation enterprise network that reduces legacy networks, he said.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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Reader comments

Mon, Oct 26, 2009 IT-AAC.org

This is not a new problem, and why the Clinger Cohen Act was created. DON CIO could quickly address some of the root causes of failure by leveraging the AF's five year investment in streamlining the IT Acquisition process called ASAP. One case study was E-FOIA, which cycled from requirements through acquisition in just four months. BTA's Capability Assessment Method is a derivative of this process, and proving that DoD can be agile if it fixes the processes and leverages smaller, innovative organizations not vested in the status quo.

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