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Air Force giving CIO more oversight over IT spending

Jan. 2, 2014
 
Air Force CIO Lt. Gen. Michael Basla will take on a larger role in shaping the service's IT strategy.
Air Force CIO Lt. Gen. Michael Basla will take on a larger role in shaping the service's IT strategy. (Air Force)

The Air Force has taken steps to strengthen its chief information officer’s role in governing how the service invests its information technology dollars.

Air Force CIO Lt. Gen. Michael Basla said his office is awaiting approval of an implementation plan that defines his roles, in terms of providing strategic direction for IT as well as reviewing and approving investments.

“As I look at how we provision IT capabilities in the past, it became obvious to me that only about half of our IT investments were done under the purview of the CIO,” said Basla, who spoke Wednesday at an AFCEA Air Force IT Day in Virginia. Basla, who also serves as the chief of information dominance, said up to this point those efforts were not synchronized.

“That status quo is not an option anymore,” he said.

Basla said his office will perform IT budget and investment reviews, in step with Defense Department guidance. Those reviews will be carried out through an IT governance executive board, which he chairs. But that does not mean that the CIO will own all the service’s IT dollars.

As CIO, Basla said his role entails providing strategic vision for IT investments, including funding, acquisition and requirements, as well as strategic direction for the cyber domain. This will ensure the Air Force aligns its investments with the DoD’s Joint Information Environment (JIE) initiative.

The Air Force’s announcement comes a week after the Pentagon released plans to empower the DoD CIO to improve oversight of IT resources. That includes moving oversight of business systems from the deputy chief management officer to the CIO.

“We will look at that very seriously,” Basla said. “If that’s the DoD CIO model, then I would want to have the service’s model along the same.”

“We’re doing things differently now,” Basla said, adding that some changes will be immediate and others will occur over time.

One of the more immediate changes is the Air Force’s decision to migrate its Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) users to the Pentagon’s enterprise email system, which will begin in a few months, Basla said. The Air Force is almost done migrating its Non-secure Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPRNet) users at the headquarters level to enterprise email.

“It wasn’t without hiccups, I’ll let you that,” Basla said. “But working with DISA and with the other folks that have gone through that, it’s working.”

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