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Department of Homeland Security CIO Richard Spires Addresses NVTC Board

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) CIO Richard Spires spoke at the November 8 NVTC Board of Directors meeting at the LMI conference center in McLean. During the meeting, Spires discussed his four top goals for the office of the CIO.

Department of Homeland Security CIO Richard Spires addressing the NVTC Board.
Department of Homeland Security CIO Richard Spires addressing the NVTC Board.

First, he aims to rationalize the DHS infrastructure, including shuttering 43 legacy data centers by FY 2015 and piloting a cloud-based workplace-as-a-service, which will combine virtual desktop, tablet and smartphone capabilities within the security architecture and offered at a flat monthly rate. Spires asserted that infrastructure rationalization will result in significant savings for DHS.

Spires is also focused on strengthening the DHS federal workforce to oversee program management and to run critical programs that cannot be outsourced. DHS is also highlighting best practices and has set up seven centers of excellence in specific disciplines to help their programs.

Next, Spires explained his goal of integrating the department so that everyone can work off the same data sets. DHS currently has 22 separate common operating platforms and 13 major cross-cutting functions.

Spires’ final goal is to rebalance and build up the DHS workforce. Arguing that DHS shouldn’t try to insource more than necessary, he asserted that the department is putting real mentorship and career development programs into place in order to “build a workforce that can manage IT.”

After his remarks, Spires engaged in an in-depth discussion with NVTC Board members. He explained how DHS determines what information will go into private or public cloud offerings based on the sensitivity of the data and discussed the information sharing architecture being implemented to allow agencies to communicate critical data without putting privacy or civil liberties at risk. He also explained DHS’ increased use of biometrics, including on tablets and other mobile devices, and how his office is responding to budget pressures in part by seeking savings in commodity IT in order to spend more on mission-critical functions. Finally, Spires shared his thoughts on how industry can work with the department’s new business model, including a requirement to use DHS infrastructure, partnering with competitors and improving response times.