Defense Department Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen began a five-day tour Monday through Silicon Valley, where he will lead a delegation of high-level Pentagon officials on visits to leading technology companies to discuss ways to improve collaboration.
The trip is in support of the department’s Information Technology Exchange Program, known as ITEP, which allows a limited number of personnel exchanges between the Defense Department and private companies for temporary assignments lasting from three months to one year.
“The DoD cyber strategy recognizes the critical role industry plays in securing the nation’s infrastructure,” Halvorsen said in a statement. “Expanding our industry exchange programs, like ITEP, is part of this effort. Our goal is to create a strong, sustainable, collaborative IT exchange program that fosters partnership and innovation with industry.”
Halvorsen’s visit comes six weeks after Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced the Pentagon’s new cyber strategy at Stanford University in what was the first visit to Silicon Valley by a sitting Defense secretary in nearly 20 years. In addition to detailing the new Pentagon cyber strategy and announcing the formation of a Silicon Valley-based Pentagon branch of the U.S. Digital Service, Carter also paid a visit to Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters, where he met with Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer, to discuss managing digital talent.
To participate, a federal civilian employee must work in the IT field, be considered an exceptional employee, be expected to assume greater future responsibilities, and be a GS-11 or higher. Industry participants must be U.S. citizens, and they may be required to hold a security clearance. To date, the department has focused on IT workers with expertise in commercial cloud services, mobility, cybersecurity, big data and data analytics, enterprise architecture, and network services.
ITEP was established in 2010 by Congress, which extended it until 2018 as part of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. By law, the program is limited to 10 participants at any time.
“We want to be able to engage with technical subject-matter experts from the best cybersecurity and IT companies in the country,” said Gary Evans, the team lead for information management in the office of the DOD CIO.