One unknown at the Pentagon has finally been answered.
Teri Takai, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the Defense Department’s chief information officer, will finally assume her new role on Nov. 7, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Tuesday.
“The new CIO position will be central to these efforts as the DoD continues to transform its IT capabilities to meet the enormous mission critical needs of the U.S. military,” according to a DoD news release
There was some uncertainty about Takai filling the position after her nomination hearing, set for Aug. 3, was canceled.
Under Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ cost-saving plan, it’s unclear whether the CIO position or its functions will move with the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) to Fort Meade, Md.
Gates has said the reorganization plan will strengthen the role of the CIO, but how that will play out is yet to be seen.
Takai’s appointment to DoD CIO is a huge step forward for the defense department.
Facing a $100 billion cost-cutting plan under Secretary Gates, and the increased scrutiny of OMB in the handling of major modernization projects, the DoD’s need for a dedicated CIO has been more urgent than ever.
As Takai moves to the Pentagon, her first priority should be to rein in inefficient IT spending. Across the DoD, agencies are spending as much as 80 percent more than is necessary to operate and maintain mission-critical legacy applications. These legacy applications, typically hosted on the mainframe, have been around for decades, and are the ones that run the daily business of DoD operations.
While still extremely valuable, as these legacy applications have aged, they have become increasingly expensive to maintain and operate. In maintenance costs alone, Gartner estimates that large public sector agencies, on average, have a $200-million+ backlog of application maintenance that needs to be performed.
There is a huge opportunity to cut IT spending across the DoD by migrating these key legacy applications onto lower-cost platforms (from the mainframe onto platforms like Linux, Windows, UNIX, or the cloud). Through the use of low-cost and low-risk strategies (which leave existing code and business intelligence untouched) application modernization and migration is the low-hanging fruit that defense leaders, including Takai, will need to be talking about if they wish to quickly streamline and improve the cost efficiency of defense IT operations.
Ken Powell, President of Micro Focus North America
Train Wreck in the making!