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DOD CIO Takai to Receive Award for Leadership Excellence

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2013 – During a Nov. 8 black-tie gala in her home state of Michigan, the Defense Department’s Chief Information Officer Teresa M. Takai will receive the 2013 Excellence in Leadership Award, presented by officials from the Michigan Chapter of Women in Defense.

The award, to be presented in Rochester, recognizes women who have made significant contributions to national defense and security. Women in Defense is a nonprofit professional networking and development organization for women and men across the state involved in national defense and security.

Takai was born and raised in Michigan, and at the University of Michigan earned a Master of Arts degree in management and a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics. She later worked for three decades for the Ford Motor Co. among other firms, and then spent five years as CIO for the state of Michigan and two years as CIO for the state of California. She also serves on the Harvard Policy Group on Network-Enabled Services and Government.

“In my time in Michigan I never envisioned that I would be here at the Department of Defense doing what I’m doing,” Takai told American Forces Press Service. “So it’s in some ways nostalgic.”

She added, “By the same token it’s a great honor to be able to go back to my home state in a role at the Department of Defense and then to have them recognize me. That combination of … things is really exciting and I’m very thankful to [WID] for considering me.”

Takai said she appreciates Women in Defense and similar local women’s organizations because they’re important sources of support and professional development for women in defense careers.

“It’s a good mix of women that are in government and in industry supporting government,” she said, “and it gives them an opportunity to know each other and see what others are doing.”

The organizations also have women in many different career stages, some interested in mentoring, some in networking, and nearly all such organizations have scholarship programs for women’s educational development, Takai said.

In terms of contributions recognized by the Excellence in Leadership Award, Takai said she’s worked hard since arriving at the Pentagon three years ago this month to better define her role as CIO in terms of advising the defense secretary and the deputy defense secretary on the nearly $39 billion a year spent on technology.

“That’s not to stop it or to say we shouldn’t spend that much,” she said. “It’s more to say are there areas where we could spend it better?”

Takai also works to evaluate technology trends for the organization.

“We felt very early on that we needed to be able to introduce commercial mobile devices, effectively smart phones, into DOD while ensuring that we were managing the security risks. Each service was doing it … in its own way,” the CIO explained.

The challenge, she said, “was that we weren’t going to get uniform security, we weren’t potentially going to get smart phones that talked to each other, and in fact we weren’t putting together the necessary infrastructure to be able to do it.”

As a result, Takai said, her team championed an effort to have the Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA, create a single way to bring mobile devices in, test them and make sure they were secure.

“We’re now in the process of rolling that out,” the CIO said. The DOD’s mobile device management solution will allow the use of different kinds of smart phones that all will be programmed in the same way and controlled in the same way and will work around the world. An application store will be available for DOD and service-specific apps, she said.

Takai’s office also has been working hard, at President Barack Obama’s request, the CIO said, to free up some of its exclusive-use areas of the electromagnetic spectrum to be used by commercial industry.

“To do that is very challenging. We use that spectrum to train our warfighters because the bulk of our training is done in the United States,” Takai said. “One thing my team has done is to come up with some very innovative ways to share spectrum with the commercial industries so we don’t have to completely vacate it.”

That’s critical, she said, because the United States is trying to promote its economic growth through the use of wireless devices and is producing revenue by auctioning-off spectrum through the Federal Communications Commission.

Takai said later this month DOD will roll out its Electromagnetic Spectrum Strategy in support of the president’s wireless broadband initiatives.

“Right now we’re looking at the 1755 MHz to 1780 MHZ band and that’s where our most innovative solutions are,” Takai said, “but the strategy includes the entire spectrum.”

One of the department’s most forward-looking technology efforts is the Joint Information Environment, or JIE, a framework for modernizing DOD information technology systems and making them more secure.

The JIE consists of overarching architectures, standards and specifications; common ways of operating and defending DOD networks; and common engineered solution designs.

The CIO said JIE is coupled with two cybersecurity strategies in progress -- one for defending DOD networks and the other for the cyber workforce.

“The Joint Information Environment is being rolled out in Europe now and we’re in the process of rolling it out in terms of planning for all of our operations,” Takai said.

“The reason we rolled out in Europe initially is because Europe had an initiative that was sort of the beginnings of JIE. They had been working on it between [European Command and Africa Command] for at least a couple of years so we thought they were a great pilot to … prove out the concepts, look at some areas around the way operations centers would work, as well as … for what JIE would cost, and then comparing that to the way we’re currently running the infrastructure,” the CIO said.

JIE will improve DOD technology roll-outs and security, technology efficiency and reliability, and redundancy and cost, she added.

To date, Takai’s team has proven a number of concepts in Europe and developed a costing model, she said. DISA has the lead through its Joint Technology Synchronization Office, the JTSO.

About 120 engineers, some from each service, are coming in to develop engineering specifications and the services have been asked to develop plans for implementing the engineering specifications in their own networks, Takai said.

Each service also has committed to reorganizing their data centers, she said. “They’re going to close some data centers down and some data centers will need to be made more resilient to meet cyber threats, so we have that planned for them. And we’re also working with the services on defense enterprise e-mail,” the CIO added.

Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter has issued direction to the services to include the JIE in their fiscal year 2015 budgets, Takai said, and she’s working with DOD acquisition officials to determine exactly how to characterize the JIE money in those budgets, how to manage the service implementation plans and how to make sure future programs build to JIE engineering specifications.

For a CIO who by necessity always has an eye on the future, Takai is looking even farther ahead.

Over the next five to 10 years at DOD, she said, “we are going to be much better at building cybersecurity into our technology and we’re going to be much better at knowing how to run our technology so that it is secure. I predict that we will do that.”

With JIE, Takai added, “we will change the way our networks look and we’ll change the way that Cyber Command can actually protect our networks. That will happen.”

The CIO also wants to be able to introduce new applications of technology faster than is possible today by building on a secure platform from the beginning so infrastructure doesn’t have to be rebuilt every time something changes.

“With smart phones I’m hoping that for small things we can start to put more of that capability in the hands of individuals who need it and have to do less with really large acquisition programs,” Takai said.

“Some of our technologies will still have to be done that way,” she added, “but we need a range of ways to do the technology and we have to take advantage of the innovations that are going to be coming to us from industry.”

(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinAFPS)


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