DOD IT nominee lacks military experience, but does that matter?
Current California CIO Teri Takai awaits Senate confirmation
Despite Teresa Takai's lack of military experience, she can be an effective Defense Department information technology leader, according to industry and government officials. They say her experience as an information technology executive and expertise in large-scale IT consolidations will help DOD improve information sharing.
As Federal Computer Week predicted in early February, President Barack Obama on March 29 announced his intent to appoint Takai to the post of Assistant Secretary of Defense for networks and information integration, according to a White House release. Takai, now serving as California's chief information officer, still needs Senate confirmation.
Defense Department chooses CIO
If confirmed, Takai will be the first woman to hold the position.
In her current role, which she has held since 2007, she advises the California governor on the strategic IT management.
Takai’s background is unusual for the position because she previously worked in state governments and the auto industry, not DOD, said Dale Meyerrose, the vice president and general manger of Harris Corporation’s Cyber and Information Assurance practice and a retired Air Force major general.
According to her official bio, Takai worked for the Ford Motor Co. for 30 years before moving into state government. At Ford, she led the development of the company's IT strategic plan. She also held positions in technology at EDS and Federal-Mogul Corporation. In 2003, she became director of Michigan's Department of Information Technology and also served as the state's interim CIO.
Meyerrose said Takai is a capable technology executive. “She is well qualified to understand technology and to run a large organization,” he said.
Phil Bond, president and CEO of TechAmerica, said, “As California’s first CIO, Teri pulled disparate departments and agencies into one strong backbone for efficient, effective citizen service. In California and in Michigan, she has proven herself very adept at tapping the best and brightest from the private sector to help create smarter government on a large scale. Teri Takai is clearly a strong choice for turning DOD’s current integration efforts into a 21st century infrastructure capable of helping to strengthen our national security on all fronts.”
A fellow state CIO and former federal CIO for the Education Department, Steve Fletcher, also praised Takai’s skills and DOD’s choice.
“Teri is one of the most qualified CIOs out there right now,” Fletcher said March 29, citing her work on consolidation and her prior experience in the private sector, per a Government Technology report. “I think she could make a very large impact, if nothing else, just so that the different military organizations can talk to each other -- that's been the [DOD's] struggle for years,” said Fletcher, the CIO of Utah and president of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.
Amber Corrin is a staff writer covering defense and national security. Connect with her on Twitter: @AmberInsideDOD.