NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – The Navy by next month will have an idea of what its proposed assistant secretary of the Navy for information management office would look like, after an ongoing study to define the new office and its mission wraps up, the undersecretary of the Navy told USNI News.
“That will give us then something to go to Congress and say, hey, this is what the structure is going to look like. The secretary’s been very clear, this is going to be net-zero in terms of personnel so it will be largely moving billets around and funding around to help fund this – other than the ASN, that will be a new billet. So I can’t tell you much more than that because I’m sort of letting him do his thing,” he told USNI News.
The Navy, in conjunction with the Army and the Air Force, are asking Congress to allow the services to have a fifth assistant secretary position if they choose to add one. Modly said the Navy would definitely execute that authority if lawmakers granted it, but he said the Air Force is leaning towards more of a chief technology officer type of position and the Army is still weighing its options.
“We really need to elevate the management of data and information to the highest possible level. We have a lot of vulnerabilities in cyber … some of it in the industrial base, some of it with the small suppliers that are creating major issues for us,” plus additional data creation and management challenges, Modly said in a speech at the Navy League’s annual Sea Air Space conference.
The services are mandated to have three assistant secretaries: one for manpower and reserve affairs; one for financial management and comptroller; and one for research, development, and acquisition. The services are allowed a fourth spot, which the Navy uses for energy, installations, and environment.
The Navy previously went to Congress with a proposal to realign its portfolios to stick to four assistant secretaries.
“Our initial proposal was, we can do the same thing here and it’s still consistent theoretically with people, M&RA; money, FM; stuff, RD&A – and you put the stuff, the property, buildings, in that (RDA) portfolio – and data and information as your fourth one. And then the argument was, we’re not really creating a new ASN,” Modly explained to reporters after his speech.
“The Congress didn’t like that. … There was a lot of attention on the privatization of housing, which is in the portfolio of the EIE. So they said, hey, look, why don’t you take a break on that and we’ll consider giving you a new ASN.”
Modly said he’s pleased with the progress made on creating the ASN IM office, giving cyber and information a prominence it wouldn’t have had under the traditional Department of Navy Chief Information Officer (DON CIO) setup.
Modly said the Navy didn’t have a chief information officer when he came on as undersecretary, so rather than launch a lengthy search for the right person, “I just assumed the responsibilities of a CIO early on. And it was less of saying that, hey, I want to double down on all the work I have to do; but it had more to do with, I wanted to elevate the position of chief of information officer to the highest possible level in the department, and I’m the number-two person in the department.”
Rather than ultimately create another CIO position and hire a senior executive service (SES) leader to head it, Modly said he strongly supports having an assistant secretary because managing cybersecurity and information management “is an all-consuming job.”
This article first appeared on USNI News