Deputy CIO with Just One Hat

WASHINGTON (08/21/2000) - Under a restructuring plan that heavily boosts its clout, the chief information office within the U.S. Air Force will add a senior position whose authority will include overseeing the service's multibillion-dollar information technology budget and systems. The Air Force plan creates a new principal deputy assistant secretary for business and information management and deputy chief CIO, the civilian equivalent of a three-star general, said Lawrence Delaney, the Air Force CIO. That person, who has yet to be selected, will be largely responsible for fulfilling the day-to-day CIO duties. The Air Force needs the new position in part because the service's top two IT executives wear more than one hat and are unable to fully focus on CIO responsibilities. Delaney, for example, also is assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition.

His deputy, Lt. Gen. John Woodward, is director of command, control, communications and computer systems on the Joint Staff but has been reassigned as director of communications and information for the Air Force and commander of the Air Force communications and information center. The principal deputy's CIO functions will include controlling the Air Force's IT budget, which totals $3.7 billion in fiscal 2001, according to service figures. The Air Force is also adopting a corporate-style approach to its information systems acquisition process, requiring CIOs in all major commands to report acquisitions through the new principal deputy, who will then advise Air Force leaders whether to continue, modify or terminate programs.

"There's a very important element the new CIO structure brings with it, and that is that information technology will be represented in the process as information technology rather than being submerged in each major command's budget process," Delaney said.

The principal deputy will also be tasked with developing a corporate mindset and efficient business processes. Besides budget authority, the new position will focus on establishing and enforcing security standards for information systems and managing the IT work force. Delaney said the new structure will accomplish two things, the first of which is having all unique information systems meet security requirements. "In doing so, we need to introduce standards for performance, such as an ability to certify that things are Net-worthy, so we need to have a corporate set of processes that provide this information assurance," he said. The Air Force must also take a "corporate point of view" to improve productivity and focus its personnel resources on the IT area, Delaney said.

The restructuring, set for completion by year's end, frees Delaney and Woodward to perform their other functions and brings attention to IT, said one analyst.

"It certainly sounds like a move in the right direction. Information technology requires a lot of attention since communications is really driving the entire defense posture," said Ted Smith, president of Top Line Co., a defense market analysis firm in Falls Church, Va.

Although the restructuring will require an initial investment, Delaney said, it should lead to significant cost savings in the long term via boosts in productivity.

In addition, adopting streamlined corporate processes should allow the Air Force IT community to take greater advantage of "pockets of brilliance," according to Delaney. "If you have a large number of these [pockets of brilliance] going on, and none of them are truly coordinated, you have the problem of whether they interoperate. By coming into the corporate Air Force part of it, we will have standards," Delaney said.By George I. Seffers Under a restructuring plan that heavily boosts its clout, the chief information office within the Air Force will add a senior position whose authority will include overseeing the service's multibillion-dollar information technology budget and systems. The Air Force plan creates a new principal deputy assistant secretary for business and information management and deputy chief CIO, the civilian equivalent of a three-star general, said Lawrence Delaney, the Air Force CIO. That person, who has yet to be selected, will be largely responsible for fulfilling the day-to-day CIO duties. The Air Force needs the new position in part because the service's top two IT executives wear more than one hat and are unable to fully focus on CIO responsibilities. Delaney, for example, also is assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition.

His deputy, Lt. Gen. John Woodward, is director of command, control, communications and computer systems on the Joint Staff but has been reassigned as director of communications and information for the Air Force and commander of the Air Force communications and information center. The principal deputy's CIO functions will include controlling the Air Force's IT budget, which totals $3.7 billion in fiscal 2001, according to service figures. The Air Force is also adopting a corporate-style approach to its information systems acquisition process, requiring CIOs in all major commands to report acquisitions through the new principal deputy, who will then advise Air Force leaders whether to continue, modify or terminate programs.

"There's a very important element the new CIO structure brings with it, and that is that information technology will be represented in the process as information technology rather than being submerged in each major command's budget process," Delaney said.

The principal deputy will also be tasked with developing a corporate mindset and efficient business processes. Besides budget authority, the new position will focus on establishing and enforcing security standards for information systems and managing the IT work force. Delaney said the new structure will accomplish two things, the first of which is having all unique information systems meet security requirements. "In doing so, we need to introduce standards for performance, such as an ability to certify that things are Net-worthy, so we need to have a corporate set of processes that provide this information assurance," he said. The Air Force must also take a "corporate point of view" to improve productivity and focus its personnel resources on the IT area, Delaney said.

The restructuring, set for completion by year's end, frees Delaney and Woodward to perform their other functions and brings attention to IT, said one analyst.

"It certainly sounds like a move in the right direction. Information technology requires a lot of attention since communications is really driving the entire defense posture," said Ted Smith, president of Top Line Co., a defense market analysis firm in Falls Church, Va.

Although the restructuring will require an initial investment, Delaney said, it should lead to significant cost savings in the long term via boosts in productivity.

In addition, adopting streamlined corporate processes should allow the Air Force IT community to take greater advantage of "pockets of brilliance," according to Delaney. "If you have a large number of these [pockets of brilliance] going on, and none of them are truly coordinated, you have the problem of whether they interoperate. By coming into the corporate Air Force part of it, we will have standards," Delaney said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

More about Top Line

Show Comments