Ensuring a Modern and Secure IT Infrastructure
for the U.S. Coast Guard
Tell me about your role as a Digital Leader:
I am Captain Michael Dickey, Commander, C4IT Service Center, U.S. Coast Guard. I lead almost 900 employees who are primarily located in Alexandria, Virginia; Portsmouth, Virginia; and Martinsburg, West Virginia, but are also at several other locations around the country.
My role is to ensure that the members of the C4IT Service Center who support the Coast Guard’s IT infrastructure, computers, applications, command and control, and navigation systems have the resources and processes needed to deliver the critical services we provide.
What is your mission?
The U.S. Coast Guard has a number of missions including Search and Rescue, defending America’s maritime borders, and protecting the maritime environment. Our missions can only be executed successfully by having the right people in the right place, informed by accurate, real-time data.
My mission specifically is to ensure the infrastructure, software, and enterprise applications that power the U.S. Coast Guard deliver precise, reliable, mission-critical data to our globally-deployed, internal stakeholders to inform prudent agency decision-making, and to our external stakeholders to ensure they can effectively execute their missions.
What is your biggest challenge as Commander of the Coast Guard’s Data Center?
I have a few! The most significant is keeping up with rising expectations and demand for robust and relevant IT services. We are also facing an increasingly high bar when it comes to cyber security. It can be challenging passing Command Cyber Readiness inspections, which are a series of reviews to ensure we have implemented all of the standards the Department of Defense has established. These inspections are particularly onerous within an environment that includes extremely complex legacy applications.
When it comes to federal agency modernization, what else is necessary?
Our Deputy CIO has made it a priority to markedly increase the rigor in our planning and budgeting processes. To ensure taxpayer dollars are leveraged wisely, we must keep accountability constantly at the forefront of everything we do. Rigorous controls and governance over software maintenance and investment prioritization are an imperative.
I’m committed to facilitating a reporting structure that empowers us to communicate results and performance to all necessary stakeholders. We are implementing an industry standard service management process framework, which I think any IT professional today understands is foundational to successful service delivery. DMI has helped a great deal on this front.
Tell me about your experience in partnering with DMI.
DMI’s leadership and expertise has been instrumental in helping us achieve our strategic objectives over the past five years. The work initially consisted of designing a management structure to enable accurate cost accounting and reporting to stakeholders. We are currently focused on restructuring our organization, which along with implementation of standardized processes across the entire organization, will enable us to markedly improve service delivery. DMI’s support at our data center in Martinsburg, West Virginia really helped us get this whole effort going.
We are working on incorporating Cyber and Intelligence support into our organization to ultimately become the “C5I Service Center”. C5I is a relatively new acronym that stands for Command and Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, and Intelligence and much better defines the entire spectrum of services we provide to the Coast Guard. I think what we have learned through our partnership with DMI has really set us up to make huge improvements.
What’s next for you on your journey as a Digital Leader?
In addition to an increased focus on the performance of critical IT infrastructure, mobility now is part of the conversation at the most senior levels of the Coast Guard. DMI prompted some of our earlier thinking about developing mobile applications, but it has taken us a while to get our arms around the necessary security framework to deploy applications that allow mobile users to access sensitive enterprise data. However, mobility is now at the forefront of our operational capability planning and I have no doubt there will be opportunity for DMI to help us in this area.