Obama appoints veteran IT consolidator to DOD

White House names California CIO Teri Takai to one of the top federal IT jobs

Based on its appointment of California state CIO Teri Takai to the top IT job in the Department of Defense, the Obama administration is likely steering the agency in the direction of IT consolidation.

President Barack Obama today appointed Takai assistant secretary for networks and information integration at the DOD .

Before taking the top California IT job in 2007, Takai held the same job in Michigan's state government, where she led an effort to centralize IT operations -- closing several dozen data centers and consolidating of 40 statewide e-mail systems into two.

Takai was given similar marching orders in California, where Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger early last year unveiled plans to consolidate the state's IT operation under the office of the state CIO.

In a hearing last year about the plan, Takai said consolidating IT operations would enable California to take "an enterprise approach to technology that will enable expanded access to government services and information, enhanced accountability and performance, improved public safety and disaster recovery capabilities, and consistent information security and privacy practices."

In the appointment announcement, Obama cited Takai's consolidation experience in Michigan.

The approach applied by Takai in Michigan and California is in line with the White House goal of holding back on IT spending increases while consolidating IT operations.

In the 2011federal budget plan released earlier this year, the Obama administration proposed a federal IT budget of nearly $80 billion, up 1.2% from this fiscal year.

The White House wants to government agencies to improve IT efficiency through adoption of new technologies and approaches, such as cloud computing, and consolidation. In the fiscal 2011 spending plan, the administration specifically pointed out that the number of federal government data centers has more than doubled to about 1,100 over over the past 10 years.

The new job presents Takai with multiple challenges. For instance, the DOD's IT business systems modernization program has been cited at "high risk" since 1995 by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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