Is it safe to call Defense Department Chief Information Officer Teri Takai the “First Lady of Shared Services?”
Even with a $38 billion information technology budget, Takai is facing budget cuts like the rest of the federal government, but is in a unique situation: Her problem is not finding technology, but managing all that she has and a big aspect of that will be finding services and projects that can be shared governmentwide.
“With just about every new initiative we have to ask ourselves: ‘Is this something I need to host myself?’” Takai said on Tuesday during a keynote address at the Excellence.Gov Awards Luncheon hosted by ACT-IAC at the J.W. Marriott in Washington D.C.
Takai knows about working with a tight budget. As the CIO in the states of Michigan and California before coming to DOD, she worked in environments of shrinking budgets, especially Michigan where the financial problems preceded those facing the rest of the government by about five years.
Takai said DOD isn’t facing quite the drastic cuts as those states, but a search for efficiencies and sharing of services is one of the best ways to get there, no matter the size of the organization.
“For us, the administration is making sure we have adequate funding to defend the nation, but we also want to find the efficiencies that make us run better and leaner, while still making sure the warfighter is fully supported,” Takai said.
Takai discussed finding ways to increase inter-govemental collaboration, not just with federal agencies, but also with state and local governments, as well to find as many ways to combine services.
She pointed to the Treasury Department Budget Formulation and Execution Manager program that is now being used by six cabinet-level federal agencies and 13 other agencies as an example of how the “Shared First” policy can be an effective time, energy and cost saver.
As for other initiatives, Takai said workforce development is extremely important to her, most educating the cybersecurity workforce to defend the department’s more than 1,500 computer networks.
She also said she is working on a mobility strategy to align the department in a way that young people coming into the service will be able to do everything they can do in the non-working world with technology.
“I have the same goal as everyone else: find a way to do less with less,” she said.