specifically designed to support the Defense Health Agency
(DHA) as it transitions to a new CIO. With change on the
horizon, additional stakeholders that could offer insights to
the new leader joined the group. Their presence added value
to the recommendations that will be presented to the CIO,
The report focuses less on the hows and more on the
“high-level whats without being overly prescriptive,” he
offers. The goal was to identify the issues the new leader will
need to address in the first 90 days.
The DHA has two different but equally important missions, Wells points out. One is to maintain the medical
health system, and the other is to support a trained and
deployable medical force via the Combat Support Agency.
The two missions have not been integrated well in the past,
he says, but the Defense Department will take a big step
toward ameliorating that issue if the
report’s recommendations are implemented. “This agency is charged with
blending two quite different missions,
and the CIO network information
technology job has a key role in that,”
Wells offers. While the report does
not address how to blend those two
missions, it does address the overall
importance of their fusion.
The report notes several challenges
that set the DHA apart from other
defense agencies. The agency comprises
a blend of service cultures, and its dispersed funding sources give it limited
control over fiscal resources. It has a
highly dynamic information communications technology environment.
Most of all, it must collaborate with, and
influence, a wide audience to succeed.
One of the most difficult tasks facing
the new CIO will be to achieve unity
of action without having unity of con-
trol. Each of the services has a stake in
the DHA, and the lack of a clear cen-
tral authority creates a barrier to con-
solidation of redundant systems and
applications that leads to waste. The
agency’s leadership will need to progress
by influence and encouragement rather
than by authority, the report notes.
Among five primary recommendations in the report, the top one is to
understand the baseline environment.
This entails collecting input, defining
the CIO’s vision, establishing transparency and connecting with key stakeholders to solidify partnerships and
eliminate wasteful programs.
“Almost nobody is going to know
all the moving parts—given whether
they come from a service background,
an agency background, an operating
background or a TRICARE medical
health service background,” Wells notes.
“Everyone will have something to learn.”
The timing of the new CIO’s arrival
poses a problem. “The time when the
person is coming in is going to be
almost too late to have a significant
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