recommended reading

Defense brass tells Hill reasons for shutting CIO office

Because the Defense Department has had trouble keeping up with advances in information technology, it decided to eliminate layers of bureaucracy that manage computer networks essential to operations in the Information Age, two of the department's top officials told a Senate panel on Tuesday.

Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Armed Services Committee that "multiple organizations on multiple staffs at multiple layers of our hierarchy exist to oversee IT," leading to a difficult to understand bureaucracy with unclear responsibilities. The result is combat commanders "simply do not understand what organization they need to visit to get their work executed," he said.

Cartwright, who testified with Defense Deputy Secretary William Lynn III, said the department must change the way it manages IT to fight enemies who are increasingly enabled with IT.

In August, Defense Secretary Robert Gates proposed restructuring Defense IT organizations as part of a streamlining and cost-cutting initiative to save $100 billion during the next five years. The plan includes eliminating the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration, the organization in which Defense's chief information officer resides.

Cartwright said Defense wanted to remove duplication of IT management, which meant not only closing ASD/NII, but also moving the command-and-control organization of the Joint Staff and portions of IT groups in the Joint Forces Command to the new U.S. Cyber Command.

The CIO functions in those organizations will transfer to what Cartwright called a new and "strengthened" overall Defense CIO position.

Air Force Lt. Col. Rene White, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said the CIO will report directly to the secretary, with "umbrella responsibility for daily operations" provided by the Defense Information Systems Agency. Defense canceled the appearance of Teresa "Teri" Takai, California's chief information officer, at her planned nomination hearing in August due to the restructuring effort.

Trey Hodgkins, vice president for national security and procurement policy for the IT industry association TechAmerica, said he is concerned that conflicts could arise between the CIO's statutory role under the Clinger-Cohen Act, which gives the CIO oversight of IT management, and DISA's role in acquiring networks and operating them.

He said he wondered how strong the new CIO position would be compared to the previous one, which also served as an assistant secretary.

Lynn called for consolidation of the Defense IT infrastructure, but provided few details. White said Gates has appointed a task force that will develop consolidation plans and deliver a report no later within six months 120 days.

Hodgkins said the changes will require the CIO to have a seat with the top managers as well as amity and authority over the services' chief information officers, who have multiple organizations beneath them that independently acquire IT hardware, software and services.

Threatwatch Alert

Stolen laptop

3.7M Hong Kong Voters' Personal Data Stolen

See threatwatch report


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.