The U.S. Navy’s new top tech official said today that she is looking at continuing to boost the service branch’s infrastructure and communications technology abilities, and pressing ahead with cybersecurity improvements as among her top agenda items.
Jane Overslaugh Rathbun, who became the Navy’s principal deputy CIO just last month, talked about that agenda today at an event organized by Billington Cybersecurity.
While still relatively new to her current position, Rathbun has been well-established in the Navy CIO office. From 2018 to earlier this year, she was dual-hatted as deputy assistant Secretary of the Navy for information warfare and enterprise services under the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, and as chief technology officer in the office of the Navy CIO.
Speaking of her ascension to the current top spot in the CIO’s office, Rathbun noted news last week that CIO Aaron Weis will be stepping down as CIO. In her remarks today, she spoke highly of Weis’ term as CIO, saying he would be leaving after nearly four years and “really reestablishing the CIO office.”
Rathbun said she knew the news of Weis’ departure was “coming at some point this year… I was hoping it would be six months from now and not six weeks into the job.”
“But we’re good because we’ve been programmed for the last four years and so he really set up our organization for success,” she said.
“We have the information superiority vision that focuses on modernizing, innovating, and defending,” she continued. “We still have lots of work to do, and I’m going to carry that vision forward and continue to push on the good work that we’ve been doing.”
On the modernization portion of the agenda, Rathbun said, “we have made great progress in improving our infrastructure.” She added that work is “never done, and if we’re smart, we will always be continuing to improve.”
In the innovate category, she said, “we are pivoting towards innovate and looking at things like 5G and commercial SATCOM” with non-geostationary low-Earth orbit capabilities that can help “meet Department of Navy mission needs.” Those types of satellite communications, she said, “could be a game changer for the Department of Navy with regard to access to bandwidth, afloat and ashore, in areas where we don’t have this connectivity.”
And in the defend space, she said that work involves being “cyber ready, and working with our DIB [defense industrial base] partners to help make them more protected.”
“That’s kind of where we will be headed,” Rathbun said.