The Business of Government Hour

 

About the show

The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. The executives discuss their careers and the management challenges facing their organizations. Past government executives include Administrators, Chief Financial Officers, Chief Information Officers, Chief Operating Officers, Commissioners, Controllers, Directors, and Undersecretaries.

The interviews

Join the IBM Center for a weekly conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business.

Robert J. Carey interview

Friday, September 26th, 2008 - 20:00
Phrase: 
"The technologies have enabled us to move at different paces to achieve [our] vision: accessing information securely from anywhere at any time to support decision-making, whether you're on the ground in Fallujah or you're aboard a ship helping the folks in Burma"
Radio show date: 
Sat, 09/27/2008
Guest: 
Intro text: 
Mr. Robert J. Carey was named the sixth Chief Information Officer for the Department of the Navy by the Secretary of the Navy in November 2006.
Magazine profile: 
Complete transcript: 

Originally Broadcast June 28, 2008

Washington, D.C.

Announcer: Welcome to The Business of Government Hour, a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. The Business of Government Hour is produced by The IBM Center for The Business of Government, which was created in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness. You can find out more about The Center by visiting us on the web at businessofgovernment.org.

And now, The Business of Government Hour.

Mr. Morales: Good morning. I'm Albert Morales, your host, and managing partner of The IBM Center for The Business of Government

With us this morning to discuss efforts in this area is our special guest, Mr. Robert Carey, Chief Information Officer of the U.S. Department of the Navy.

Good morning, Rob.

Mr. Carey: Good morning.

Mr. Morales: Also joining us in our conversation is Bob Reeve, partner in IBM's defense practice.

Good morning, Bob.

Mr. Reeve: Good morning, Al.

Mr. Morales: Rob, before we get started, can you ground our listeners by taking a few moments to describe the mission of your office and how it supports the overall mission of the Navy and the DoD?

Mr. Carey: Al, we're a team that sits in the Secretariat, so we work for the Secretary of the Navy directly, and our job is to set the strategic direction and the policy for the IM/IT, that's information management/information technology that's used across the Department. So that spans both war fighting and business a.k.a ERP-type things and C2 systems. So it is a broad portfolio of opportunities to align across the Navy-Marine Corps team.

Mr. Morales: So I suppose both the back office and the front office?

Mr. Carey: Correct.

Mr. Morales: Great, great. Can you give us a sense of the scale of your office in terms of how it may be organized, your staff size, and kind of your overall footprint across the DoD?

Mr. Carey: Sure. We're a fairly small staff, about 30 civilians or so. We have a Deputy CIO for Policy and Integration, that's John Lussier, who works directly for me in my office. We have a Deputy CIO, Navy, that's Vice Admiral Mark Edwards, who is also double-headed as the OPNAV, chief of Naval Operations, N6, and we have a Deputy CIO Marine Corps, which is Brigadier General George Allen, and he is also headquarters Marine Corps C4. So that's sort of the leadership element.

The organizations that the Deputy CIO Navy-Marine Corps have are linked to us through a designation letter of responsibilities that they carry out, because information technology authorities sort of flow through the Secretary to me to them. And so that's how they actually get to play in the space. We sit in Crystal City right now, though we're headed to the Pentagon in 2010. And so we're a fairly small footprint right now. And we have a broader organization that we can rely upon in the Navy-Marine Corps team.

Mr. Reeve: Rob, to provide some greater detail and follow-up on that, can you describe your specific responsibilities and duties as the Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer, and particularly, could you give us a sense of how you coordinate or work with the Deputy CIOs for the Navy and the Marine Corps, and also the program executive officers, particularly PEO EIS, as well as the other DoD CIOs?

Mr. Carey: As we set policy and strategic direction for the Department, what that really means is to sort of chart that course to establish those tenets and boundary conditions of which the over 800,000 folks are going to live within, my simple term of "we make the rules," okay, but we also chart up the place where we want the Department to go. So the strategic plan and the strategic direction are the lofty places we want to go and aim all those building activities and transformational activities towards those points in space.

We work with our supporting elements in the PEOs and the ASN RD&A, the Research, Development, and Acquisition team, through the use of the Information Executive Council, or committee, the IEC that I chair. And that's a group that is made up of the deputies ASN (RD&A), ASN (FM), so that's the Research Development Acquisition team and the Financial Management team, as well as the PEOs as well as network com. So that body is fully capable of making decisions across the Department. And that's how we try to communicate formally.

And then we have very vast numbers of informal channels and working relationships with people on the team. So as we move particular projects downstream, whether it be security, whether it be something on NMCI, whether it be something on privacy, we reach out and touch the responsible parties and make the connections.

Mr. Reeve: So regarding those responsibilities and duties in the way your office operates, what are the top three challenges that you face in your position, and how have you addressed those challenges?

Mr. Carey: Today, the number one challenge for all of us is security, hands down. The world has changed dramatically in the last four or five years, where the threats are real, the threats are known. And so balancing the ability to get access to information while maintain a proper security paradigm is a huge challenge for us and is sort of the number one issue that I work.

We cannot cut off individuals' abilities to access information, to make decisions. That's what information is about; the ability to render proper facts in front of a decision that a leader must make. At the same time, the Internet was set up to be inherently open, not inherently secure. So balancing the ability to keep unwanted folks out of our networks and allow the right sets of accesses into information in the network and out of the network -- because not all our information is inside our firewalls, for example. That's the challenge that I face the most, and I spent a lot of my time on.

Another challenge that is taking up a lot of my time is privacy; you know, protecting the personally identifiable information, PII. So much of PII is available on the Internet, but now creating those processes within the Navy-Marine Corps team that will properly safeguard it. The last thing we want is a sailor or Marine down range worrying about his credit. He has to worry about what's right in front of him, not worrying about what's going on in the back office at home.

And then I think the last thing that I worry about most is managing change. All these things that become new, whether it is the next generation network, whether it is an MCI, whether it is smart cards and logging on to the machine with your PIN and not your password, are change. And the Department is a cross-section of the United States that doesn't like change. It likes to do things the way they've always done it.

And so generally in my world, it is never the technology. The technology generally always works. What doesn't work is -- and what takes time and takes a lot of effort is integrating the new process and displacing the old one. Integrating the new technology and displacing the old one, and moving into the culture zone, and how do I integrate across the curve. So those are sort of the top three things that I get my time, as well as -- and then effect my strategic planning, if you will.

Mr. Morales: So to clarify, the change that you talk about is not only the integration of the technology because technology obviously is continually changing, but it's really dealing with how the organization itself, how the people themselves absorb that change over time?

Mr. Carey: Exactly. So much of IT is consistent, or should be consistent in my view across the Department. And so when you find that IT has presented the opportunity to most commands and individuals to embrace it and deliver value to their boss and deliver a transaction or business result that was probably not optimized early on, then they act on it for 10 years, let's say. So now we want to create an enterprise way of doing business. Now I have to move the four or five people who worked a subordinate process to change into the new way. So that part gets to be hard, because you are trying to convince them that what they've been doing isn't wrong, it's just not the most efficient way to do business.

Mr. Morales: Rob, I understand you started your career in the Department of the Army. Could you describe your career path for our listeners?

Mr. Carey: I started testing weapons for the Army at Aberdeen Proving Ground, the most fun job I ever had in my life. I was blowing things up for a living. I moved to the Navy in 1985. I transferred, and I started working on sonar domes, those things that hang off the bows of ships and allow us to find submarines from surface ships, and then moved into a lot of undersea weapons and systems engineering and sonar projects within the Naval Sea Systems Command.

And then from there I moved into the IT space. A former CIO, Dan Porter, pulled me in and asked me to come over and start working on electronic business, which I did. And then I immediately got tasked with managing the smart card deployment in the Department of Navy, which was a huge change management initiative, rolling out the new ID card. And if you can imagine people not wanting to change that old green ID card that we were so familiar with, that we had for 20 years, showing them the new plastic ID card with a chip on it got me a lot of indoctrination to how people don't like to change.

And then, I think about five years ago, I was selected to be the Deputy CIO, fortunate enough to jump up behind Dave Wennergren, who was my predecessor, and work with him doing management of the office portfolio, if you will, across all the teams that we have in the office. And then while I was in the desert in Fallujah, I was selected to be the CIO. I actually met the Secretary of the Navy while I was there at Thanksgiving time and shook his hand and thanked him for picking me and told him I'd see him in April. So that's sort of it.

And then -- I have spent some time deploying for Desert Storm I, and now this one. I did go to Fallujah in 2006-2007, and spent some time with the Third Naval Construction Regiment doing construction planning, which was a very enjoyable experience, a little bit stressful, but very enjoyable.

Mr. Morales: Great. So as you sort of reflect back on your experiences at the Army and the Navy and all the different roles that you've had, how have these experiences prepared you for your current leadership role, and perhaps have shaped your leadership style?

Mr. Carey: I have learned over time in watching my bosses. I have always been fortunate to have really good bosses, by and large. And you learn from them, watch what succeeds and what doesn't succeed. You learn that the "I say, you do" mentality of the old Navy doesn't work very well. You learn that consensus building and team-based approaches, obtaining buy-in early on works a whole lot better, because if people are not surprised when they see change coming or if they were part of it when it was being developed, they will embrace it a whole lot better and try to make it go.

So my leadership style has been influenced by my experiences in the uniform Navy as well as my civilian assignments to be collaborative, to be team-based, to be one of obtaining consensus before you move on, although I believe that I can make decisions as well. There comes a point in time in an argument that we have to make a decision and we have to move on, and you just have to realize when do you cross that point.

So I think that's helped me understand both the uniformed Navy -- while I was in Fallujah living with the uniformed Marine Corps for seven months, I learned how they operate in the field in combat conditions. So when you bring all that back, you have an appreciation of how should I now try to make large change management and issues in information technology go.

Mr. Morales: That's great.

What about the Department of the Navy's IT transformation? We will ask Robert Carey, Chief Information Officer at the US Department of the Navy, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Rob Carey, Chief Information Officer at the U.S. Department of the Navy. Also joining us in our conversation is Bob Reeve, partner in IBM's DoD practice.

Rob, we've all read that the DoD is transforming from a platform-centric to net-centric operations. And I would imagine as the CIO, you're providing some of the key leadership in this regard. To this end, could you give us a brief overview of the Navy's IT strategic vision? Specifically, could you describe the vision that underlies and unifies your IT goals? And to what extent is this vision driven by the overarching DoD Department-wide goals?

Mr. Carey: Al, yes I can. I have been working in the CIO organization for over eight years now. And believe it or not, the vision has been the same. The technologies have enabled us to move at different paces to achieve the vision, which is accessing information securely from anywhere at any time to support decision-making, whether you're on the ground in Fallujah in a Marine Corps unit, or you're aboard a ship helping the folks in Burma, or you're at PACFLT on Oahu, that you can access the information that you need to make the decisions you need to make, and that the information is secure and trustworthy and so on and so on.

What I call the information management value chain of how we get to information, how we exercise the information, and how we put back a business result is the thing that we are trying to connect together and then drill into the various elements of -- to deliver that vision, deliver upon the vision that we've had. We see that there are things like service-oriented architectures out there that allow us to place information up for consumers to draw. However, you must change your applications in the way you access and intercept the information that you put up there.

We have things like networks, and we have authoritative databases, we have security profiles, we have common access cards, and PKI, that all become elements of this information management value chain, that allows us to now break down the components of accessing what I call the network to gain information to either conduct a transaction, or to deliver a business result in such a way that it's the most efficient and effective, and also interoperates with our joint partners in the other services.

So at the end of the day, we have worked very long and hard. Most of the elements of the strategic plan that we have written have remained virtually stable, because they are the right things to do. The strategic plans are not things that flip-flop every two years. The Congress requires that we put a plan out every two years, and we do. But the elements are basically the same. The six goals in our strategic plan have only changed a little bit to take in some of the direction from the Secretary, the CNO or the Commandant, and then embrace it as the DON's way ahead.

Mr. Morales: So with that overview, could you tell us a little bit more about your tactical approach as you have outlined in your CIO campaign plan. Specifically, to what extent does it detail those actions with the biggest impact in the shortest time frame, and how does it complement the Navy's IM/IT strategic plan?

Mr. Carey: Sure. The campaign plan was something I wanted to write when I came back from Fallujah in April of 2007. And I wanted to take our strategic plan and break it down one more level of detail, that there were deliverables on behalf of the Department that we were willing to commit to. There are seven goals in the campaign plan; there are six in the strat plan. The seventh one, that was called out -- actually it's goal two in the campaign plan, is protect PII, personally identifiable information.

The Secretary asked me directly you need to get on top of that. So I added that as a tactical goal that was achievable in my mind over a sort of a 500-day window. So I decided that I would produce a document and think through in each of these areas one level down what would we be working on at a fairly high level, but still making a deliverable that reflected progress along what the strategic plan was looking for. And so therefore, the campaign plan was developed and promulgated at the end of the summer last year, was intended to be a 500-day plan, which does coincide with the end of the administration, but that's purely coincidental.

This is about the amount of time it's going to take to get these things done. This is when they are needed. We are and have checked off several of the deliverables in this plan, and we're on task and on schedule to complete a successful plan. In all likelihood this fall, I will revisit this and rework it, and institute yet another one that now will capture the next set of major adventures that we want to go do. And I will produce that plan after the new administration takes in or, you know, gets in place.

Mr. Reeve: Rob, you've mentioned your time in Fallujah on active duty, and you are a civil engineering corps officer in the Navy Reserve, and I would think that brings a unique perspective to your role. How's being the actual customer of IT at the tip of the spear, so to speak, influence your current vision and tactics? What lessons have you learned from your frontline experience, and how has that changed the way you think about your job?

Mr. Carey: Bob, the privilege of serving right at the tip of the spear, where everything you do matters, had a profound effect on me, because you can sense the frustration of folks when things aren't working well. You can also sense the successes when things are working well in the communications IT space.

I got to see the young sailors and marines operating their systems at a level that I would not have expected; watching a young marine managing 15 chat sessions at once, where he would've had a bank of phones, and he would've been a fairly busy guy, sitting at his workstation really in great command and control of the knowledge of what was going on in those 15 places wherever they may have been. So to observe that, and then understand how is information technology supporting warfighting; that's our very basic mission. And how does it support decision-making; watching generals making decisions to put marines and sailors in harm's way based on the information they get, whether it's intelligence or it's a presentation or it is a point paper or what have you, was sort of bringing IT full circle for me. So it helped me understand the real consumption, and how does any one person sitting at a workstation feed the machine, if you will, feed the warfighting engine.

The other thing that it brought me in my service was that things really show up on the battlefield slow. They do not show up at a speed that the commanding generals would like. And in my mind -- just my mind -- information technology is something that can be delivered more rapidly. We cannot deliver Apaches or Abrams tanks any faster than we are. IT solutions can be developed very rapidly and delivered very quickly to those who need them, which again provides better information, more integrated database information than was previously realizable, perhaps, to the warfighter to allow them to make better decisions and support better, more safer combat operations.

So I saw a need for that that I would not have seen, and then seeing again the millennial generation fully engaged, operating IT systems that I would not have given them credit for being able to do, you know, successfully, as if it was just their job, it was just a piece of cake for them to do this, although they were downrange doing it.

Mr. Reeve: You describe a world there that calls for open and accessible information at the battlefield. In my experience, information technology is an area sometimes noted for turf battles and proprietary views. Could you elaborate on your efforts to foster an enterprise view to IT, and could you elaborate on your efforts to enhance IT governance within your Department?

Mr. Carey: IT governance is an issue of great debate right now, because there are things in Title 10, things in Title 40, that clearly delineate who does what or how things get done, but there is no precedence between the two for example. And those are -- Title 10 describes the responsibilities of the military departments and the DoD, and then Title 40 is the Clinger-Cohen Act, describes what CIOs do for example.

So as we foster and build enterprise alignment across the greater IT team, that allows us to get buy-in on enterprise approaches to IT systems and IT policy. Aligning the acquisition with the resources, with the policy, with the requirements, and the operation, is the task at hand right now. We have work to do in that space, but we operate pretty well today. But there's improvements we could make to make it a smoother transition.

Whether you use proprietary software or you use open source software, they both have a fit. They both play roles in our world. And we can't jump to any one thing at any one time; it's not possible. What is possible is to make maximum use of the IT that you have to deliver, whether it's business value or warfighting value. And to continue to refine and reduce the IT spend such that the pointy end of the spear receives the vast amount of resources, then the IT that runs the C2, and the back office activities are minimized.

Mr. Reeve: Let's talk a little bit more about those resources. I understand your Department's information technology capital investment portfolio is in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Would you elaborate on how you've strengthened your IT capital investment process to assure that investment decisions are mission-aligned and cost-justified? Specifically, how do you work with other elements in the Navy in managing an investment review process?

Mr. Carey: There are several layers from the DoD on down that we -- several procedures that we follow. JCIDS is the Joint Capabilities Integration Development System that actually is the process by which we delineate requirements and validate and vet them. How we move through acquisitions and how we work with the acquisition team to deliver IT solutions is based upon -- you know, the OPNAV staff and the CNO and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and their staff work the requirements piece.

They are the ones that are chartered to deliver what does this thing have to do. The acquisition team is chartered with determining how do I go by what it is you need. We help in the IT space of setting the policy, the strategic direction, and help shape the solution side of -- with the acquisition team, the requirements of what does that mean, what's the thing that we're going to get.

We do have a portfolio management instruction that is in the signature cycle now, in the job cycle, if you will. But it delineates how we're going to now continue to codify and structure the review of IT investments, similar to how DoD has their investment review boards, and create the structure by which we can enable the various mission areas to understand, review and decide they want to continue to invest in what they are investing in today. And make sure -- again, it's about alignment, of do you understand which part of your portfolio you're investing in, and do you want to continue to do that.

As we transform the Department, this actually provides visibility into the spend. And the spend is, you know -- the Department of Navy's IT budget I believe on the Hill is about $7.1 billion. So the review of that portfolio and the detailed understanding of it is important. While the IT budget has gone up a little bit, the Department of Navy's budget has gone up at a greater rate. So therefore, the percentage that we spend on IT is smaller. And that's actually what you're looking for. And we still try to reduce our IT spend in support of the CNO and the Commandant, so that we can buy ships and tanks.

Mr. Morales: So Rob, I would imagine that there's probably a line a mile long in your office of folks wanting to show you some of the latest and greatest technologies. How do you take advantage of some of this R&D done both within the DoD, as well as by commercial enterprises to solve some of your more pressing business and mission challenges? And how do you balance operating between leading edge technologies versus some of the more proven technologies?

Mr. Carey: Al, we keep a close ear to the ground with respect to where's technology going. We visit companies, companies visit me, but we have a pretty good understanding of what is state-of-the-art, what's going to be state-of-the-art, and then sort of what exists now and is sort of getting long in the tooth, which presents an opportunity to you to think about, can I do that better. What I -- I use the federal CIO best practices committee, I'm a co-chair of that.

I use my own industry site visits to sort of gain this fundamental understanding of what technologies deliver what business results. When people come to my office and want to talk to me about technology, I ask them to talk to their technology in the context of a business problem that I have. If they can't do that, then there's probably a challenge right away. Even though I am sure that the technology works, it has to be delivered in the context of a problem that we have. And then I can understand the business case and the ROI -- much as anyone in industry would go to their boss and say, "Don't you want to invest in this?" I think the boss would say, "Well, yes I do, but show me how this pays off and when."

So we keep an ear to these things and we embrace them, and push those ideas and technologies into those solution sets -- whether it's at ONR or the acquisition research guys -- and make sure that they are aware of the capabilities of certain tool sets out there, which continue to evolve. Things change so rapidly, it is hard to put a peg in the ground and stay stable. But that being said, with an 800,000 person organization, we have to put our peg in the sand at the appropriate location to take advantage of technology, but it has to have the kinks worked out before we get there.

We have places that we'll take advantage of leading edge technology and evaluate them for us, but by and large, if it is going to be an enterprise solution, it's going to take time to roll it out anyway. So I have to sort of balance the two between my desire to have the latest and greatest thing and the stability of the enterprise.

Mr. Morales: So along similar lines, let's talk for a moment about NMCI, which I understand is the largest intranet in the world. Could you tell us just a little bit about the plans for the Next Generation Enterprise Network, otherwise known as NGEN? To what extent does this look to fill some of the gaps that exist in connectivity between the warfighter and CONUS and the forces?

Mr. Carey: The follow-on to NMCI, termed NGEN, is a network environment that we want to build that we believe will continue to unify the Navy-Marine Corps team in a consistent environment that allows us to access information from anywhere and be able to make decisions from anywhere. So we see the attributes that we want to build in are things that we build upon our successes from NMCI, we will make sure where we stubbed our toe in NMCI, that we don't do that again.

We've written a strategy document, the NNE, Naval Network Environment 2016, that sort of lays out in broad terms where we intend to go. One of the tenets of that is really about -- information technology is so critical to the success of the Department of the Navy, the Navy-Marine Corps team, that we want to have a stronger role in that than we had with our NMCI partners.

At the time the NMCI was deployed, we made the decisions that were proper at that time. It is many years later -- and when you revisit those decisions, you could possibly change them. And that's where we think we're going to go into a much stronger government role. So we think that connecting and creating the seamless network environment, and eliminating legacy networks and rolling them in and creating this process that allows us to manage information across a homogeneous environment will better serve the warfighters.

Mr. Morales: Great.

What about the Department of the Navy's IT security efforts?

We will ask Robert Carey, Chief Information Officer at the U.S. Department of the Navy, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Rob Carey, Chief Information Officer at the U.S. Department of the Navy.

Also joining us in our conversation is Bob Reeve, partner in IBM's DoD practice.

Rob, we all know that technology has not only enhanced our ability to share information, but it's also made organizations more vulnerable to unlawful and destructive penetration, and you referenced this in the first segment. So having said this, information access and knowledge sharing is obviously key to your operations, but there's a delicate balance that needs to be struck there. Could you elaborate a bit more on your chief IT security initiatives, and your efforts in balancing this delicate issue of access and security?

Mr. Carey: Sure, Al. We have worked very hard, and my former boss, David Wennergren, who is up at OSD now, has mentioned to me we're not really balancing so much as we are working both delivering access with security. So the balancing act almost seems like you are willing to compromise one for the other. And we really -- it's sort of like you have to have your cake and eat it, too. You have to have information access and you have to have the appropriate level of security.

So that unto itself becomes a challenge, because people are generally willing to swing the pendulum into the security space and lock a network down, or on the other hand, the Internet itself is inherently wide open, and there's a balance or a compromise that we have to make that allows both to succeed. So as we deploy things like the common access card and public key infrastructure, the log-on component accessing the network and authentication and verifying identities becomes the first thing that we've pretty well succeeded at.

And then as we move into HP-based access controls, which is more of an identity management-based process that allows us to move into the place where data is tagged, and if I have the right access controls, I can get to it -- we're starting that venture now and there is a lot that will be rolled into that -- PKI and biometrics, smart cards, things like that. But we have to get to the place where we can ensure that Rob Carey is allowed to access the information Rob Carey is allowed to access, and not the information he's not.

And it plays out on things like in the classified networks that we have, we have to make sure that we can control things adequately, yet make sure that information is able to be shared. We want to get rid of user names and passwords. Again, back to the log-on thing, so much of what we do in the security realm is fairly simple and straightforward, it is not difficult to have people log on with their common access card, but it is once again a change in how they do business.

We have extended public key infrastructure to our BlackBerries, so we have smart card readers that are Bluetooth-enabled, that allow my credentials from my common access card to be transmitted through Bluetooth to the BlackBerry, and I can sign-in and encrypt e-mails from that wireless device. That is a huge step forward as we try to lockdown -- did that e-mail come from somebody that I thought it was? Was it Bob Reeve or was it signed by Bob Reeve? You know, I need to know that in the future, because the threat can do things with e-mails that heretofore we need to be aware of.

We have invested a fair amount of resources in raising the security bar of the NMCI and the other networks because we have come to the realization, and I think this Secretary, Secretary Winter has come to the realization or he's known this, that security is not something we debate, security is part of the basic system, and so he has helped bolster something that, say four or five years ago, we would debate, and it's not debatable now. It is to make sure we're investing in the right sets of tools and activities that again balance access and security, or allow us to have both.

Mr. Morales: Taking the same issue, but from a people perspective, what steps are you taking to create or cultivate a culture of accountability for the protection of sensitive personal information to ensure that you are continuing improvements in this area and addressing any security weaknesses?

Mr. Carey: Last year, we embarked upon a journey to strengthen our management of PII, privacy information. We developed some processes of how you handle it and deploy those. We took those who engage PII and put them through additional training. So we're working our way to a place called "accountability," that now we manage that information as if it was something that there would be a consequence if it was not handled appropriately.

That's an important distinction, because classified information, if you're in the military and you mishandle it, you will be held accountable; whether it's on a fitness report or civilian evaluation, there is a consequence that will be brought to bear. In the PII world, that's a more difficult challenge right now. If it's malicious, obviously we can, but we have to get in and understand our handling procedures and create a sense of accountability and ownership of those folks who manage Privacy Act information, such that they will manage it in a more coordinated and consistent manner.

If a laptop is stolen out of someone's car that's in the trunk -- that you would have put it there anyway, it seems to me that that's an issue that you are remorseful about, but you would have not known someone was going to break into your car. Leaving a laptop on the front seat of a car in plain view is sort of -- in the wrong part of the neighborhood, for example, is sort of something that you have to be aware that you could have done that better, you could have put it in the trunk, you could have done other things.

We have a lot of issues with the prolific amount of information that we have, whether it's on thumb-drives, whether it's on PDAs, whether it's -- even sometimes just paper. So we're trying to wrap all these information flows into a consistent procedure, and then make sure that whether you are a civilian, a uniform member, or a contractor, that there is an accountability delivered, and that there will be a consequence on the other end if you do not handle the stuff properly.

Mr. Reeve: You mentioned some of the downside of social networking, but there is a lot of press about those models and technologies that are redefining the relationships of citizens with their government, and I understand that you may in fact have the honor of being the first federal agency CIO to have his own public blog, recently recognized by Federal Computer Week.

To that end, what are some of the more important business potential applications that you have identified within the Department of Navy, and more importantly, what does this mean for federal government as it pursues the possibilities of web 2.0?

Mr. Carey: Bob, the web 2.0 technologies present great opportunities to accelerate the delivery of information to -- whether it's taxpayers and delivering citizen services for the agencies and departments that are in the District here, as well as the Department of Defense to deliver value to warfighters. They are stretching how we move information around, how we integrate information in real-time, our very basic tenets of netcentricity, using the net to convey information and move information and integrate information to present a picture that a decision-maker will use.

The web 2.0 can only make that better and does make it better. For example, when we write policy, one of my main tenets, policies can take months and months and months to be deployed, because there is a draft created, then it's routed around, and it's -- we incorporate comments, it's routed around again. Wiki technology allows me -- and I intend to do this, to deploy and develop a policy on a wiki -- it will be a closed wiki, because I can't have the public making policy, but I can have the Department of Navy employees latched on to a wiki, using that technology, to in essence put their money where their mouth is, and write it like you want to see it.

Now, I can do that in a matter of -- my sense is 30 to 60 days. Focus your energy, write the words you want to see there, this isn't about routing it around ad infinitum; this is get it to the place where the draft takes a very short amount of time to get very close to being the final version, and that technology lets me do it. Not to mention, I can track all the changes, I understand who said what, when they said it, who overwrote somebody else's words, and I can then create what I believe is a consensus-based team-built document that the organizations will all sign up to.

Things like RSS feeds and mashups again allow us to use and integrate information far faster than we would have, enabling people even on the battlefield to make decisions, where you see a lot of Google maps, and you will see a little arrow, a pin dot into the map so you now have your location, you hit the little dot and you will see an address and a phone number, those types of technology seem very simple, but are very powerful in our utilization of them.

Mr. Reeve: When you talk about all of those different components, the knowledge management capabilities of the organization to intersect people technology and processes, to enable informed decision-making and help you accomplish your mission; you talked a little bit about that. Could you expand on where there are some other recent examples of your use of knowledge management in the Department of Navy?

Mr. Carey: Bob, we have had great success in our diligence with knowledge management and its importance to our very basic operations. We have been pursuing knowledge management tenets in the Department of Navy CIO's office ever since I got there. So that eight years now, we have been working towards creating an environment and creating people that understand that information in context is far more powerful than data to help decision-makers in order to conduct transactions in the business of the Department.

Today, there are knowledge management officers in battle groups; there are knowledge management officers on most of the fleet staffs. Four years ago, that did not exist, but they have that very title. That's their full-time job, they are responsible for how are we collaborating, how are we exchanging information, what are the standards, how do certain systems need to interface that maybe didn't today.

So it's really exciting for us to watch the fruits of our labors over time now become courses that are taught to larger and larger audiences about how do I capture knowledge; how do I use information systems to deliver business value. We have moved into and maybe back to the future the information management space: who needs what information when. And how do I integrate things like content management or search, because at the end of the day, knowledge management is about attaching information to a context, and then I have to be able to search information and then make some decisions.

So as we work with those various aspects of KM, the knowledge management, we have struck upon what we think is a real way ahead for our tool sets to really shorten the cycle time between someone's idea in his head at a very basic level and an action on the other end that has information behind it.

Mr. Reeve: Talking about change in people, with the rise of the so-called net generation, could you elaborate on your Department's efforts to meet the challenges this new generation brings, specifically how are you leveraging the capabilities and the expectations of this generation and integrating them with the established culture, a senior leadership that didn't grow up in such a digital environment?

Mr. Carey: Bob, a great question. Today's senior leaders in all of DoD, but certainly in the Department of Navy like me -- I am the average age of an IT worker, I'm 47, I have been working in IT approximately eight years, although the average IT worker has been working 16 years in the business. So right away, you think I am a Boomer and I am two generations away from the folks we're recruiting and trying to attract and retain.

I am a digital immigrant, I have moved into the space -- being an engineer by training, I sort of understand and consider myself dangerous, but when I sit in front of my daughter or my son who is 10 and they offer me PowerPoint advice, I feel very humbled, because they have been working in this environment since they touched computers, which was in preschool. You and I didn't touch a computer in preschool, we probably touched it in college and then thought it was a little bit different, the gray screen or the green screens.

So as we try to take advantage of this talent base that exists out there, this unharnessed talent base, as we move into the next generation network environment, we have to understand the strengths and skills that these younger people bring make us a little nervous, the decision-makers are a little nervous, okay, because we don't know how to do what they have done ever since they were born.

They don't know not having a cell phone; they never heard of an LPA vinyl record, they don't -- never heard of a cassette tape or an 8-track, right. They only know CDs and so these digital natives make us a little bit nervous, but they are our future, and so we work on, and we are working on creating an intern program for people in the Department to bring them aboard, appropriately pay and retain and train them to continue to serve the Department as civilians or in the uniformed military as sailors or young officers.

They understand wikis and blogs, they understand the new technologies. They expect that, which is something again that the older leadership has to grapple with, because I understand these things because I work in it, but I would tell you, peers of mine would look at this and they would not understand necessarily. So it is an important thing for us to focus on this next generation, and make sure that they are following behind us and able to deliver value to the Department.

Mr. Morales: So along that vein, can you tell us a little bit about the Information Technology Exchange Program, or ITEP, because I understand that this is geared towards this issue of attracting and retaining some of these new generations of IT people?

Mr. Carey: It is. While the ITEP legislation did expire, we are working the path to the future for that particular program. We like the fact that we can leverage industry best practices and bring them into supporting our missions and vice versa. So I think there's opportunities there, and again, industry hires young people all the time. We hire young people when we recruit sailors or marines, they go to boot camp. They are by definition mostly pretty young; in the civilian sector is really where that gap is, in my mind, because for example, I spoke at a conference in San Diego last fall and I asked people, you know, all the millennials in the audience, please raise your hand. There was about 800 people in the audience, and I got less than 10 hands, which was very telling to me, that they are not associated with us and we need to work that. So the ITEP program creates another venue to leverage that talent.

Mr. Morales: Great.

What does the future hold for the U.S. Department of the Navy's IT function?

We will ask Robert Carey, Chief Information Officer at the U.S. Department of the Navy, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to our final segment of The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Rob Carey, Chief Information Officer at the U.S. Department of the Navy.

Also joining us in our conversation is Bob Reeve, partner in IBM's DoD practice.

Rob, we've talked with many of our guests about collaborating with industry, and you've called for an innovative partnership with industry. Could you elaborate a bit on the kinds of partnerships you are developing to improve operations, and in what areas would you like to enhance or expand this public-private collaboration?

Mr. Carey: Al, there are so many opportunities in the Information Age to collaborate with industry. I'll start with just a couple. We work on enterprise licensing agreements for software and some hardware sets that allows us to buy in economical order quantities. But what has been an interesting twist over the last 12 months, for example, is the advent of netcentric licensing. What does that mean? That means that as we develop joint systems, as we develop systems that the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and Marines will access, are the licensing agreements for the software built to enable that sharing?

Typically, licensing agreements could be for an organization as large as the Department of Navy and focused internally. So everyone in the Department of Navy can access a certain system and share the information accordingly within the tenets of the licensing agreement. But what about when Army and Navy have to share, when DoD and DHS has to share? So that's a really exciting opportunity to redefine the landscape of how we do IT systems management, IT systems procurement.

I have spent a fair amount of time with the IAC team and the ACT team, building relationships with industry to better understand what you all do, and if I don't do that, I am remiss in my responsibilities of understanding where is industry going with technology, and how does the Department of the Navy take advantage of it. Again, when we have partnerships to deliver capabilities at the other end that aren't adversarial at all, that are collaborative, we get products and solutions, and you get to stay in business delivering those solutions on our behalf. So it's an important thing for us to continue to better relationships, understand what each other's needs are and then deliver collaborative solutions.

Mr. Reeve: Rob, you've talked in the earlier segments about the team that you work with across the government IT space. Could you elaborate on your approach personally to empowering your employees? How do you lead change and enable your staff and those within the organization to accept the inevitability of change and make the most of it?

Mr. Carey: Bob, I am one of those managers and leaders that I like to coach and help. I do not want to get in and make decisions, although I can if I have to. I like to empower the team to go solve problems that I didn't even know about, and then come back and tell me that they did that. And my team is very good at that. I learned that from my previous bosses, David Wennergren and Dan Porter, that you're empowered to go solve problems on my behalf, that you see -- maybe not that I see -- all problems don't come through the CIO's focal plane, they are all over the map, and then deciding which ones are appropriately resolved by my office and which ones aren't is a designation that my team leaders understand.

We also think of ourselves as a learning organization, which is an important attribute, so I run a quarterly training series called Expanding Boundaries, and we review latest books, we have a world-class instructor and educator by the name of Barry Frew, who used to teach at the Naval Post-Graduate School, help us with understanding new concepts of how to manage change, how to lead, how to embrace our own strengths, and then deliver value.

Mr. Reeve: With the evolution of the global threat environment and the many challenges associated with that, how do you envision DoD and its information technology efforts evolving in the next two to five years to meet these challenges?

Mr. Carey: I think we will see the Attribute-Based Access Control, ABAC, come to reality. I think we will see an integration of biometrics and public key infrastructure into a complementary set of tools. Today, there are some that think it's one or the other, but I think they're complementary technologies that deliver the security at the front end of the system. I think we'll see identity management technologies blossom, which is getting the physical and logical access deployed in such a way that it is consistent across the DoD.

I think we will see service-oriented architectures and the enablement of netcentric activities to really begin the blossom. I think we will see IPv6 rolling out -- while it has been on the horizon, the horizon is getting closer, and we're now investing in those activities to enable our enterprise to take advantage of IPv6.

Mr. Morales: So along similar lines, what emerging technologies hold the most promise for improving federal IT? And how much is the existence of open standards and open architectures, service-oriented architecture, which you mentioned earlier, and the availability of free systems, such as Linux, influencing some of your thinking?

Mr. Carey: Open systems provide an opportunity for the Department of Navy to use that as a tool in the toolbox. I wrote a letter last year that pretty much delineated that. It did not say anything other than you can use these as if they were COTS technology, and that they are aligned with every other acquisition regulation out there. That allowed people to embrace them to the extent that, and give them sort of top cover that, hey, they are okay to use open source technologies.

So you know, we believe open standards are the right way to go, because open architectures and open standards are the things that we want to gravitate to, because they facilitate interoperability. The proprietary systems are embedded in where we are; however, we want to make sure that when we go and create our component of the GIG, the FORCEnet, Naval FORCEnet construct which is the Naval component of the GIG, the way we are interoperable, is if we have open standards and define ways of communicating across systems. So open architectures and open standards, service-oriented architectures are tools in our toolbox to enable information sharing and information access.

Mr. Morales: So Rob, you have got one of the most popular blogs out there on the net. You're a Federal 100 award recipient, you've clearly had a very successful and interesting career. So other than blowing things up in the Army, what's been the most rewarding aspect of your career, and what advice might you give to someone who is out there perhaps thinking about a career in public service?

Mr. Carey: I have not had -- I've had so many rewarding parts of my career, whether it was serving in Iraq, serving my nation in a uniformed capacity in a wartime environment, whether it was blowing things up at Aberdeen Proving Ground, but I look back at what I have done over the last 25-27 years and I think of the opportunity to serve the nation, which was a goal of mine to sort of give back to what we have, and then I think that that desire to contribute is something that if you want to serve the government, you want to serve the Department of the Navy and you want to be sort of turned loose to go make a difference -- this is what I would counsel young people to do.

Because when I came to the Department of Navy, and even when I worked for the Army, I was pretty much turned loose, so my success was what I made of it. My failures are what I would make of them, and I appreciated that opportunity, that I could sort of run with the ball, if you will.

And I got a great deal of satisfaction out of every job I've had being afforded that opportunity to make a difference. And if anybody sees any e-mails from me, that is sort of my tagline, is make a difference every day, because I believe that. And I believe that there is an opportunity in the Department of Navy, in public service, to make a difference, whether it's for the taxpayers or the warfighters.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic. Unfortunately, Rob, we have reached the end of our time. I want to thank you for fitting us into your busy schedule.

But more importantly, Bob and I would like to thank you for your dedicated service to our country across the many roles you have held at the DoD.

Mr. Carey: Al and Bob, I appreciate you having me on the show today. I think this was a wonderful forum to just discuss what we're doing in the Department of Navy. I do want to thank -- my team at DON CIO -- because of all the hard work they do, we are successful in sharing information across the Department, and I do want to recognize all the men and women that are serving in harm's way today, because without them, I don't think we would be here.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic, thank you.

This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Robert Carey, Chief Information Officer, at the U.S. Department of the Navy.

My co-host has been Bob Reeve, partner in IBM's DoD practice.

As you enjoy the rest of your day, please take time to remember the men and women of our armed and civil services abroad who may not be able to hear this morning's show on how we're improving their government, but who deserve our unconditional respect and support.

For The Business of Government Hour, I'm Albert Morales. Thank you for listening.

Announcer: This has been The Business of Government Hour. Be sure to join us every Saturday at 9:00 a.m., and visit us on the web at businessofgovernment.org. There, you can learn more about our programs and get a transcript of today's conversation.

Until next week, it's businessofgovernment.org.

Robert J. Carey interview
09/27/2008
"The technologies have enabled us to move at different paces to achieve [our] vision: accessing information securely from anywhere at any time to support decision-making, whether you're on the ground in Fallujah or you're aboard a ship helping the folks in Burma"

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