Navy considers Web 2.0 tools

Navy officials want to adopt Web 2.0 tools such as Facebook and Wikipedia, but they will likely deploy their own versions of those technologies, said Robert Carey, the Navy Department’s chief information officer.

For example, the Navy’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC) deployed a Facebook-like application on its private network to give legal teams a way to collaborate, Carey said today at the Naval IT Day conference sponsored by AFCEA International’s Northern Virginia Chapter.

“It didn’t cost a lot of money, and it created a capability to network and ensure that if someone has expertise in a certain area and someone else had a question in that area, you can link the two rapidly,” he said.

“If the OGC team can do it, then I think certainly the rest of the Navy can as well,” Carey said.

In addition to improving collaboration, Carey said Web 2.0 tools could help the Navy comply with the Obama administration’s reporting and transparency mandates for spending funds under the economic stimulus law. The Navy does not have automated tools that provide the level of detail required by the Office of Management and Budget, and Web 2.0 tools could help fill that void, he said.

However, Web 2.0 technology is not designed for use in a strict command structure, Carey said. “It does flatten the organization,  which makes us nervous because we’re not a flat organization, we are a rank organization,” he said.

The Navy will likely follow OGC’s model for deploying in-house versions of social media tools because it gives Navy officials the control they need, Carey said. However, commercial platforms could be allowed on internal networks, he added.

“We don’t want to reinvent any wheels, but I can’t have an open intersection with the Internet for the information shared by Navy personnel,” Carey said.

The commander of the U.S. Southern Command uses Facebook, and Carey said he plans to see what challenges that officer faces.

“Good ideas come from wherever they come from,” Carey said. “You just have to be able to embrace the ideas, challenge them and then put them to use. You’ve got to ensure that you have the proper chain of command where it is necessary, and where you can be flat, be flat.”

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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