This week’s Q&A between reporters and Halvorsen — the first in what he promised will be quarterly chats with the press — also included a fair amount of discussion about his overall management approach in the CIO position.
While he didn’t shed any light on how much longer he’ll continue to serve in an acting capacity, he did give some insight on how he’d like to shape the Pentagon’s implementation of the Joint Information Environment.
In general, the policies that demand the department evolve toward a more enterprise-centric, shared approach to IT won’t change, Halvorsen said. But he thinks DoD needs to make JIE a bit less ethereal and focus more on measurable, deliverable capabilities during what he said would be a never-ending evolution toward more joint IT.
“I think the thing that needed more concentration was to get more discrete about the specific events in JIE, and to really get things in a set of priority order that you could individually cost,” he said. “I think the security pieces of this were understood, what it did for mission was understood, but I don’t think we understood how to cost it.”
Among the concrete deliverables Halvorsen pointed to was DoD’s move to Joint Regional Security Stacks (JRSS), a shared security architecture that will give network defenders much more cybersecurity insight into what’s happening on the military’s scattered networks. To be clear, the Army, the Air Force and DISA launched JRSS before Halvorsen took over as CIO. But he said the Navy and Marine Corps are now looking for ways to merge their own enterprise-level security systems into what will eventually become a shared security architecture, even if it won’t necessarily use one single set of hardware and software.
Halvorsen also pointed to improvements in mobility as a near-term deliverable.
He said DoD is focused on giving its combatant commanders an affordable, modern smartphone that can handle secret-level data and will work anywhere in the world. Without offering details, he said DoD hopes to roll out a solution some time in November.
DoD is also working on a new mobility idea for the vast majority of its users who spend most of their time on unclassified networks. Halvorsen said the Defense Information Systems Agency is working with industry on what will be the department’s first devices that can support dual-personas.
While those devices would be government-owned — a “bring-your-own-device” strategy is still a long way off for DoD — the handhelds would have the ability to securely segregate government data from the user’s own personal data and switch back and forth between those two roles.
“We have begun to put those out. It’s based on the BlackBerry Z30, and DISA has done a great job on that,” Halvorsen said. “I’m very happy with all the progress we’ve made, but to be very candid, I am not very happy with the price. We have a lot more work to do to drive the cost down.”
Each week, Defense Reporter Jared Serbu speaks one-on-one and in depth with the people responsible for managing the inner workings of the federal government's largest department, and those who know it best. Subscribe to the latest episode on PodcastOne or iTunes.