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FCW : April 15, 2014
MAJ. GEN. BRETT T. WILLIAMS is director of operations at U.S Cyber Command. The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily re ect the views of the Defense Department. Commentary | BRETT T. WILLIAMS Let's face it: IT acquisition is hard, especially in the Defense Depart- ment. More often than not, the delivered solution falls short in one, if not all three, of the follow- ing areas: It is over budget, it does not satisfy the end user, or it is a cybersecurity challenge. Solutions fail because we have not yet cracked the code on balanc- ing risk among the three groups that have competing equities in IT acquisition. Group 1 controls the money. These are the CIOs, acquisition of - cers, program executives and mili- tary service staff members respon- sible for submitting annual program and budget proposals. They are collectively driven toward IT ef - ciency within the constraints of myriad directives, regulations, laws and contracting standards --- none of which tend to be particularly conducive to satisfying the require- ments of the other two stakeholder groups in IT acquisition. Group 2 is responsible for oper- ating and defending the networks, services and applications that make up the DOD information network. U.S. Cyber Command and its attached service components are responsible for operating and defending most, but not all, of the information network. The com- mand establishes security stan- dards and practice, but it has no directive authority in the acquisi- tion process. Group 3 consists of the opera- tors. These are the people who need freedom of maneuver to operate in the environment that Group 1 buys and Group 2 operates and defends. The term "operators" is very broad in this context. It includes unit commanders, logisti- cians, medical providers, person- nel of cers and many others. And I challenge you to nd an "opera- tor" who does not have to rou- tinely alter his or her operational approach due to the limiting char- acteristics of the provided technical solution. So how do we balance the equi- ties of the three groups? Some would say that is the job of the CIO. In my experience, CIOs are neither suf ciently empowered nor properly staffed to balance risk across the three groups. And it is all about risk management. The three groups are not going to come to consensus on where to take risk. The resource people frequently do not understand the operations. The security people can tend to be risk-averse to the point where operational effectiveness is unnecessarily degraded. And the operations people do not want to be bothered with the messy details of acquisition or security. They just want it to all magically come together to satisfy their speci c needs. One possible solution would be to appoint a responsible, quali ed individual with an independent, small staff that sits above these three groups and has directive authority over the resources. The function of this of ce would be to balance risk across the three groups in a way that ef ciently allocates resources to achieve an acceptable level of operational effectiveness at an acceptable level of security. The staff must have the appro- priate mix of experts from each of the three equity groups, and the entire of ce must report directly to the senior leaders of the service or department as appropriate. Understanding that we are stuck in a quagmire of competing equities is just the rst step. We must also nd a way for the three groups to be active, collaborative and inte- grated throughout the acquisition, testing, deployment and sustain- ment of the technical solution. And, of course, we have to get faster. Buying yesterday's technology tomorrow will not satisfy DOD's requirement for freedom of maneu- ver in cyberspace. ■ Why too many technology solutions fall short Three groups have competing equities in defense IT acquisition, and learning to balance risk among them is the key to success We must find a way for the three groups to be active, collaborative and integrated throughout the entire process. 18 April 15, 2014 FCW.COM
March 30, 2014
April 30, 2014