Terry Halvorsen assumed the official position of chief information officer for the Defense Department March 8, nine months after taking over in an acting status for former CIO Teri Takai.
Since taking the helm as CIO, Halvorsen has set a clear course for change throughout the department, particularly in the Pentagon transition to cloud computing. But the biggest challenges facing the Pentagon are cultural, Halvorsen has acknowledged in speeches and interviews during the past six months.
“I was not maybe thrilled with the original cloud policy that came out, mostly because I don’t think we were getting to cloud fast enough,” Halvorsen said in November, speaking at FedScoop’s FedTalks conference in Washington, D.C. “There are people who believe their data needs to be right on the table next to them [where] they can touch it, see it, see their server blink. We can’t operate that way anymore. It’s an inefficient way to operate, it’s a costly way to operate and frankly in the long run it’s a less secure way to operate.”
In an interview with FedScoop after his presentation, Halvorsen said the financial justification for moving to distributed data storage is getting stronger every day. “In many cases you can get a 40 percent cost reduction by moving to a venue of commercial storage,” Halvorsen said. “So it comes down to talking to [data owners] to make sure they get ‘hey, your data is still there, you can reach it whenever you need it. It’s secure and, in fact, it’s more secure at less cost … and your overall cost will come down.'”
Since then, Halvorsen has signed off on the department’s new cloud policy, which is aimed at getting the Defense Department to the cloud faster by distributing the contracting work and saving money by forcing industry to offer cloud services for a price less than what it would cost the Pentagon’s own network provider, the Defense Information Systems Agency, to provide the same services.
Prior to taking over for Takai, Halvorsen served as the Department of the Navy’s CIO since 2010. Prior to that, he served as the deputy commander of Navy Cyber Forces and also spent four years as the deputy commander of the Naval Network Warfare Command in Norfolk, Virginia.
Halvorsen is perhaps best known for his efforts to get the Navy’s IT budgeting under control and to find new efficiencies. By the end of 2012, Halvorsen had cut $100 million from the Navy’s IT budget through a series of key cost-saving initiatives.
For example, the Navy established the DON Enterprise Wireless Contracts in January 2011 with the intent of streamlining the department’s cellular purchasing habits. These contracts enabled the Navy to pool its cellular-purchasing requirements to drive down costs and gain greater transparency in purchasing spending. The effort saved nearly $30 million.
The Navy also introduced its Enterprise Licensing Agreement, which provided better spending visibility and helped keep costs down by using software licenses that apply to the entire department, rather than purchasing multiple licenses for various commands. By the end of 2012, the department had realized about $35 million in savings from the effort.
Halvorsen also led efforts by the Navy to save money on printing costs, either by eliminating the need for printing or by employing multifunction devices that combine print, fax, copy and scan functions, rather than stand-alone printers. Halvorsen estimated the department would realize $200 million to $250 million in savings by 2017.