Air Force CIO outlines priorities

As the Air Force continues to transform its business processes and warfighting capabilities by taking advantage of information technology whenever and wherever possible, the service's chief information officer has identified his top five priorities to ensure that the process runs efficiently and securely.

Furthermore, Air Force CIO John Gilligan said cultural change, not technology, is the greatest challenge the service must overcome to achieve those priorities:

* Strengthen the capital investment process. Each major command and functional CIO must be responsible for its own portfolio and priorities and how they relate to the Air Force enterprise.

* Develop an information management approach. A formal policy is in the works.

* Enforce enterprise architecture. In the 2005 budget proposal, preference will be given to programs with approved architectures, and in the future, that will be mandatory.

* Establish "common use" infrastructure for the service and entire Defense Department. The Air Force will have completed 90 percent of its consolidation efforts by the end of this fiscal year.

* Improve cybersecurity. The Air Force is on the leading edge, but maturity of software and other tools is needed.

"It's all about culture change," Gilligan said during his remarks today at an executive breakfast hosted by Input Inc. in Falls Church, Va. "It's no longer acceptable for different Air Force units to use fundamentally different IT."

Commonality and seamless interoperability are the consistent threads that tie the CIO's priorities together, he said, adding that information management is the most complex of the tasks based on its four key tenets:

* Worldwide, real-time access to secure information.

* Seamless information exchange.

* Responsible data stewardship.

* A single, governed enterprise infrastructure.

The Air Force has an information management policy in draft form that will be presented "in the next couple months" to the Air Force secretary and chief of staff, Gilligan told FCW. "It will formally charge organizations with data stewardship so they're accountable for what's on the network, its quality and timeliness."

As part of the common-use infrastructure goal, the Air Force's IT consolidation efforts are making great strides. As of two weeks ago, 70 percent of the total network and server consolidation was complete, including 80 percent of the networks and 50 percent of the application servers, he said, adding that those efforts have resulted in more than 1,000 Air Force employees returning to warfighting jobs.

Gilligan also said that he supports "capping" funds used on common-use systems and programs throughout DOD. He said he believes there is enough funding in place now to do the job, but it must be reallocated to garner better efficiency.

In addition to information management, Gilligan said cybersecurity gives him "nightmares" because despite the Air Force's best software and tools, there is still much room for improvement. He called on industry to help in that area.

Enhanced information assurance through the establishment of a public-key interface and use of DOD's Common Access Cards (CACs) will most help the Air Force in this area, he said.

DOD employees with CACs should be able to use them to access any military system they are cleared for, no matter where a system is located. The ultimate goal is to have one card that will work governmentwide — civilian and military — and provide secure logical and physical access wherever the holder goes.

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