I recently joined the Department of Justice (DOJ) as the CIO, where, like any organization, the critical importance of information technology (IT) rings true: no matter the mission, IT plays an indispensable and undeniable role.
The Department’s mission is “…to enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.”
The successful integration of IT to support each of these mission areas—law enforcement, investigation, litigation, and incarceration—is critical to ensuring efficiency, reliability, and value, while also providing management and administration. Of course, the Department’s IT must also provide cyber security from all threats—in fact, enhancing cyber security always remains the first order of business.
In my first month, I met one-on-one with most of the DOJ component CIOs to learn about their unique roles in supporting the Department’s mission and to discover the vast landscape of IT at DOJ. I am excited to see leadership’s dedication to providing seamless and robust solutions across the enterprise, no matter how tough the challenges. These meetings also provided me with a rapid assessment of the Department’s IT that summarized the foremost strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of the IT infrastructure.
Establishing this comprehensive picture allows us to turn our attention to portfolio management, so we can best understand and manage our investments. It also allows us to identify genuine opportunities to establish enterprise-wide solutions that drive down unit costs and establish standards. While many of these aspects go hand-in-hand—especially as IT continues to rapidly evolve—they often involve challenges and difficult choices.
Transforming IT infrastructure is a constant, often involving difficult choices, an open mind, and an objective approach. Transformational changes, such as shared services, can be misunderstood and often appear more challenging than they really are. To explore shared services, everyone must be truly open to the idea. Meanwhile, experiencing and seeing how IT is used in everyday environments across the field is essential.
Sharing IT services not only reduces duplication and eliminates unnecessary surplus within the infrastructure to drive cost savings, it also bolsters the infrastructure. The benefits of shared IT services include implementing standardized security controls for information sharing, while serving to unify the Department’s components. Instead of standing up individual services that are difficult to integrate and cost more to maintain, shared IT services strengthen IT resources by improving functionality and capabilities, while bringing greater flexibility to the organization and the information to meet customer needs.
As CIO for the Department of Justice, I am dedicated to leading an open dialog between the component bureaus and the Department. This essential discussion to address the technology needed, and to determine how to best leverage services, will bring focus to areas where consolidation is logical; how to best build common platforms for information sharing; how to bridge budgetary gaps; and much more. Accountability. Collaboration. Transparency. These fundamental steps are essential to driving transformation and fulfilling our mission.