David Wennergren, who has shifted between numerous technology and management roles over three decades at the Defense Department, will retire Aug. 1.
In Wennergren’s current role — assistant deputy chief management officer for DOD — he works to improve DOD’s operating efficiency. But it was merely the final, three-year stop in a long line of positions to which Wennergren brought his interest in technology and efficient management.
He previously spent four years as DOD’s deputy chief information officer, laying the groundwork for the emerging joint enterprise environment; five years as the vice chair of the Federal CIO Council; and years championing improved health information technology within DOD. He also served as the Department of Navy CIO (“My first gig there was Y2K,” he recalled in an interview with FedScoop) and director of the Business Transformation Agency.
“Some people might say I’ve run from one program discontent to another, but I prefer to see it differently,” he told FedScoop in 2011. “I prefer to see it being about a lot of jobs that have helped me understand, No. 1, the business of the organization, and then help to think about change.”
The Navy’s information technology magazine, CHIPS, described Wennergren in 2011 as, “An optimist and change-leader, who advocates collaboration, teamwork and process transformation to enable successful IT change.”
Wennergren was known for his voracious reading on these, and many other, subjects. And he was happy to share his recommendations. In a recent guest post for FCW, Wennergren offered books on diverse subjects: from management (“Rapid Realignment” by George Labovitz and Victor Rosansky); to history (“Founding Brothers” by Joseph J. Ellis); to fantasy (“Game of Thrones” by George R. R. Martin).
There is not yet information on Wennergren’s post-retirement plans. Wennergren and DOD have not yet responded to requests for further comment.
During his 30-plus years, Wennergren oversaw a seachange in the way information is accessed and disseminated within DOD. He discussed those changes — many of which he pushed for — with CHIPS in 2011.
“Today, it is much less about building another big IT system and much more about understanding how data can be exposed and Web services can be developed rapidly and reused across the organization,” he said.
In addition to laying the groundwork for DOD’s joint information enterprise, Wennergren oversaw the publication of, “for the first time ever, a policy on the use of Internet-based capabilities like social networking services so that we could both improve security and ensure that our people have access to the tools they need to get the mission accomplished,” he said in the same interview.
Wennergren got his start in military management when he received a Secretary of the Navy Civilian Fellowship in financial management, which helped him receive a Master of Public Policy in public sector financial management from the University of Maryland. From there, his meritorious career launched in Philadelphia, as a management analyst for the Navy.
He’s been bouncing around all corners of DOD ever since — logistics, insulation management, financial management, base closures, base reorganizations, information management. Wennergren believes this career path, which some might find fractured, has only strengthened his ability to contribute.
“It depends whether you’re an optimist of a pessimist,” he told FedScoop in 2011. “I try to view my career through an optimistic lens.”