Lawmaker's questions could hinder DOD CIO

Queries center around reorganization plan

Teri Takai may begin her tenure as Defense Department CIO in a swirl of chaos, as some lawmakers are demanding more information from Defense Secretary Robert Gates about his plans to reorganize the department.

The questions center on the proposed closure of the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Networks and Information Integration -- in which the CIO's office has historically been located on the org chart -- along with Joint Forces Command and the Business Transformation Office 

According to an Oct. 7 letter to Gates from House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), some committee members are not buying Gates’ rationale for the closures and suspect there is more to the issue than what was presented in the Sept. 29 hearing on the reorganization – which the secretary didn’t attend.

Skelton said the committee wants to see more documentation, a better business case analysis and further review before any restructuring can happen.

“Previous recommendations of this magnitude included significant documentation to support decisions made by the Secretary of Defense,” Skelton wrote.  “It is important to note that a number of elements of the efficiency initiative will require changes to statute, the creation of or modification of legal authorities, and funding. The committee will be unable to support any request for legislation or funding resulting from the efficiency initiative until the committee’s requests for information have been satisfied."

Related coverage:
Teri Takai appointed DOD CIO

Takai, the former California CIO, is expected start work on Nov. 7. Because she'll no longer be an assistant secretary, the position now does not need Senate confirmation.

Takai will be directly supported by Rob Carey, former Navy CIO and most recently director of planning and strategy at Navy Fleet Cyber Command, who's replacing Dave Wennergren as deputy DOD CIO. Cheryl Roby, currently the acting ASD NII, will serve as Takai’s chief of staff.

“We have a really great team coming in,” Wennergren said in an interview at the Executive Leadership Conference on Oct. 26. “Teri really understands what it’s like to be a CIO, she has done it multiple times successfully and she’s going to come to DOD with a great understanding of how successful CIOs work. We’ve got Rob Carey taking my place as deputy CIO, and he’s got great range across DOD and understands how things work successfully at DOD.”

Wennergren, a longtime CIO of various defense functions and chairman of the federal CIO Council for the past five years, will work in the transition in his new position as assistant deputy chief management officer at the Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense.

Wennergren acknowledges that Takai will face some problems.

“We’re going through a period of change. And we’re going through a lot of efficiency work right now, so there’s a lot of angst and turmoil about how we can be more efficient while also being more effective,” Wennergren said.

“I think the biggest challenge she’ll face will be taking the opportunity to consolidate everything together," he said. "Consolidation doesn’t necessarily mean ‘do everything in one place,’ but to have this alignment of effort. We’re no longer going to function as a bunch of separate organizations optimizing within ourselves, but instead take advantage of truly being a DOD information enterprise.”

About the Author

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


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