DoT CIO Advocates for Centralized IT Structure

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When Richard McKinney started his job as chief information officer of the Department of Transportation, he didn’t know what its network looked like.

“Our network was the child of many hands,” McKinney said. “There was no overarching architectural approach to our network.”

Richard McKinney
Richard McKinney

The reason was that the DOT has a decentralized IT structure because of the many smaller agencies that answer to it, such as the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Highway Administration, and the Federal Transit Administration.

“We didn’t even have a good blueprint for that,” McKinney said. “We couldn’t even map it out.”

McKinney hired a network engineering firm to map out the network with the intention of transitioning to the cloud.

“We discovered that we had several hundred endpoints that we didn’t even know about,” McKinney said. “The truth of the matter is that we didn’t even understand our own network.”

McKinney said that this made it impossible to combat cyber threats because DOT couldn’t secure a network that it didn’t know was there.

“It’s shown us the weakness of trying to do IT in a decentralized way,” McKinney said.

McKinney used the authority given to him by the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) to have conversations with mission leaders at DOT to convince them that investments had to be made to centralize the network because “the IT sprawl is not defensible.”

“I strengthened the relationship between my office and the CFO’s office,” McKinney said.

McKinney told the agency leaders that cybersecurity is important in keeping the agency mission going every day.

“I became a champion of FITARA,” McKinney said. “An advocate is a better way to say it.”

McKinney used the same company to help DOT’s network get to an “ideal state.”

“This is affording us the opportunity to rethink the entire network,” McKinney said.

One Comment
  1. Anonymous | - Reply
    The US DOT HQ alone has 6 separate IT networks, including a building mission-critical energy management IT system with known public internet security vulnerabilities. Detailed engineering and financial analyses led a major private investment firm to commit $100M to fully modernize DOT HQ networks and sub-optimized data centers based on $500M of guaranteed taxpayer savings. In September of 2015, Mr. McKinney not only refused to allow the project to proceed, denying taxpayers the opportunity to prove or disprove the efficacy of private IT infrastructure investment at zero taxpayer cost or risk. He further insisted that because federal IT would move to the cloud "in a few years," there was no need for new federal IT infrastructure. In the face of DOT's consistently failed FITARA grades, Congressional committee, federal agency and Representative inquiry may yet lead to a more fact-based IT and Datacenter Optimization disclosure for and adoption by Secretary Foxx and federal CIO Scott.

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