New in town: Teri Takai has arrived

Teri Takai, the new DOD CIO, has begun speaking at public events.

After nearly a year of anticipation, the new Defense Department CIO is in town and making appearances.

Teri Takai debuted Jan. 19 at a reception held by TechAmerica, where she called for partnerships between DOD and technology suppliers. The next evening, she participated in a panel discussion at an event hosted by Women in Technology.

“Technology is at the forefront of [Defense Secretary Robert Gates’] mind and the minds of other executives at DOD,” Takai said at the TechAmerica event. “This is an important backdrop for the things we’re doing.” Those activities include cost-cutting efforts that can benefit from the smart use of technology.

The appearance drew a mention at TechLeader.TV, which reported that some who have seen the new CIO's offices are impressed. “I guess it kind of makes Suite 1600 at 1325 J Street pale in comparison,” the site reports, referring to Takai’s former office in Sacramento.

Takai served as California’s CIO and came to DOD as Gates’ cost-cutting plan was drawing support, opposition and a lot of questions. But she has the support of David Wennergren, assistant deputy chief management officer at DOD and former deputy CIO.

“We have a really great team coming in,” Wennergren said in an interview at the Executive Leadership Conference in October. “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.”

Among other cost-cutting measures, DOD is planning to reduce its data centers from 772 to a more manageable number by 2015. Alfred Rivera, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Computing Services Directorate, is part of Takai’s team on that project.

“I think that you have to do some type of application rationalization before a big drag and drop,” Rivera said at a recent AFCEA breakfast. The number of data centers DISA maintains has dropped from 59 to 14 since Rivera started because of consolidation efforts.

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