Teri Takai’s challenges are ‘just like yours’

Most might assume the Defense Department’s chief information officer’s daily struggles differ significantly from other IT professionals’ obstacles. Everyone — except Teri Takai.

“The leadership and transformation challenges that I have are not very different than your day-to-day challenges,” Takai told the audience at FedTalks 2013 on June 12. “Mine are just on a bit of a larger scale.”

A larger scale meaning having the responsibility for 3.3 million people at 6,000 different locations on your shoulders. As DOD CIO, Takai is challenged with ensuring everyone at these locations have connectivity and access to technology.

DOD manages about 40 percent of the technology funds laid out in the federal budget, and the projection for the 2014 fiscal year budget is $39 billion dollars for technology.


However, it’s not just her U.S. employees or billions of dollars she has to worry about; Takai has to make sure the technologies her employees are using are compatible with those of the countries working with the U.S.

“As we move out of Afghanistan and begin to shift our troops toward the Pacific, I have to think about this new set of countries and how we’ll connect with them,” Takai said.

Takai also has to make sure DOD is staying up to date with technology, something it has been grappling with. Currently, it takes the department 80 months to bring in new technology.

“New technology is coming in faster than we are able to certify and distribute the technology we currently have,” Takai said.

Moving forward, Takai said one of her main focuses is to create a strong and clear strategy for DOD.  With more than 25,000 IT personnel, crystallized goals are essential for the department.


“We spend a lot of our time putting out strategies, not complex, but strategies that lay out the initiatives our organization needs to focus on,” Takai said. “Being clear on what I believe are the objectives for the organization is very important.”

And like so many industry and government leaders, Takai has to figure out how she can use emerging technologies to better her organization.

“Big data is going to be so critically important to us,” she said. “That combined with the cloud structure is going to be critical in moving forward.”

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