Defense Department CIO Terry Halvorsen will be retiring in February. In Jan. 11 a press call with reporters, he said his last day will be Feb. 28.
Since taking over the Pentagon's top IT role more than two years ago, Halvorsen has spearheaded the controversial Joint Information Environment, among other initiatives, working to get the services on a common, DoD enterprise-wide IT footing. Despite not having an official top-down program of record, Halvorsen has said he and leadership within the services feel comfortable with the JIE initiative as a whole as each service is funding the various priorities within the initiative on their own.
Halvorsen also has fended off criticism of JIE, including from the Government Accountability Office for lack of financial clarity and, more recently, the DoD director of testing and evaluation.
"To date, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC), and services have not conducted rigorous and comprehensive operational testing of any of the programs associated with JIE," a report from the Pentagon's director of operational test and evaluation said in a recent report. However, on the press call Halvorsen said not to expect significant changes to the testing process due to JIE's nature as a concept, not a system.
One of the main lines of effort under JIE include JRSS, which DISA’s Cyber Development Directorate director John Hickey said Jan. 12 is "still our number one cyber initiative."
"JIE is a concept – this document supports the concept of what we want in a joint information environment. I think we’ll have to change the [term] because it’s too confusing – it’s not a program, it’s not an it. It doesn’t deliver; it’s a concept," he told reporters in August regarding the DoD "Information Technology Environment Way Forward to Tomorrow's Strategic Landscape," a new plan for getting ahead in information technology. "This [document] is absolutely 100 percent of getting to a concept of a JIE, but what it’s trying to do today is lay out the discrete elements of getting to a pathway toward JIE concepts. Its 100 percent aligned with the vision of a joint information environment, but I think what we did was not explain enough that JIE was a vision and what we put out initially for JIE, the end game is the same – but the way of getting their has changed."
Notably, Halvorsen has also pushed for the elimination of common access cards. "We are embarking on a two-year plan to eliminate [common access cards] from our information systems," he said in June. "Frankly, CAC cards are not agile enough…It's really hard to get you a CAC card when people are dropping mortar shells on you and you need to get into your system. That doesn't work."
The way forward, instead, will be hybrid authentication or a "true multi-factor" combining attributes such as biometrics, behavioral analytics and passwords.
"If I structure it right, I could build the behavior pattern of that person’s identity. We can like it or not, but one of the best ways for me to check security is to see if their behavior pattern has deviated," he said. "So some of the things we are thinking about is some combination of behavioral, probably biometric and maybe some personal data information that is set for individuals. There are other thoughts like iris scans. All of those are doable today."
On the Jan. 11 call Halvorsen admitted some of his other plans, such as closing hundreds of DoD data centers and upgrading military computers to Windows 10 by the end of January 2017, have not fared as well, with both efforts behind schedule.
"We’re not where I would have liked to have been but showing good progress," he said.
Before serving as DoD CIO, Halvorsen was acting DoD CIO and is the former Department of Navy CIO.
Amber Corrin contributed to this report.