New DoD CIO Teri Takai Has Work Cut Out for Her

Teri Takai

Taking office Nov. 7 as the new CIO of the Department of Defense, industry veteran Teri Takai has mountains to climb. Her appointment is landmark: Not only is she the first female CIO of the Department of Defense, she is also the first civilian in the role.

Because of changes in the confirmation procedure, Takai’s nomination was withdrawn in September and then reinstated. The position has been vacant for nearly two years – since President George W. Bush left office – meaning there is a good deal of catch up work to be done.

Luckily, Takai has ample experience simplifying complex IT infrastructure: As CIO of the state of California, she saved some $3 billion in costs, according to Government Technology. She performed similar work as CIO of the state of Michigan previous to her position in California. With budget crunches underway across the board, Takai will need to look for creative solutions to Defense’s biggest IT challenges.

Tom Conway, director of federal business development at McAfee, suggested in an interview with ExecutiveBiz that integration is the key to success of government agencies’ doing more with less.

“We are in all areas of the security market but are driving it all to a single-management console – whether you are managing your desktop, smartphone or protecting critical data in your infrastructure,” he said. “You can control most, if not all, of that from a single pane of glass. This means you don’t need to train five people in five different management consoles. You can do it with one person.”

According to an article penned for TheNewNewInternet by Melissa Hathaway, president of Hathaway Global Strategies, government partnerships with private industry are vital but often mismanaged.

Government agencies “with more than one partnership addressing cybersecurity should review and eliminate the overlapping and duplicative efforts,” she said. “As with all relationships, both sides need to ask one another what will benefit the other party and then listen to the other party to better understand what they hope to obtain from the partnership and to develop the necessary trust for the relationship to succeed.”

Security is also a growing concern in terms of IT infrastructure – and could require some major overhauls in the near future, according to William Luti, former special assistant to the president for defense policy and strategy at the White House, and current executive vice president for Digital Management’s cybersecurity division.

“Trusted computing is a fundamentally new approach to cybersecurity that has been developed by the Trusted Computing Group – an independent consortium of technology-industry leaders,” Luti said. “The trusted computing approach is to build protections into the hardware devices themselves that can help ensure that systems are safe before they’re used or before they’re allowed to connect to networks. Verifying the identity and integrity of devices before allowing them to access network resources means that only known machines, with approved software – and nothing else – can get access to the network.”

Whether Takai employs consolidation, strategic partnerships or security overhauls, bringing policy and technology together is a major part of her philosophy.

“It isn’t just a question of demanding a seat at the table,” Takai said during a keynote at the Sept. 9 California Technology Executive Seminar. “We’ve got to be able to provide that value. And we’ve got to provide that value on a base of having the tech infrastructure, having the security and having the people processes in place to actually make that happen.”

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