Grimes settles in as DOD's top IT leader

Two hours after he was sworn in as the new Defense CIO, John Grimes sat in his Pentagon office, getting used to the constant ringing of his BlackBerry.

Grimes did not own a BlackBerry in his last job as vice president of Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems in Washington. But as DOD's top IT leader, he might get more traction from his personal digital assistant than his office phone and laptop computer combined.

'I show up here and [in] 30 seconds [have one] and it has not stopped,' Grimes said, pointing to the new device. 'I have had continuous messages.'

In June, President Bush nominated Grimes to be CIO and assistant secretary of Defense for networks and information integration. The Senate confirmed him Oct. 28, and he was officially sworn in Nov. 14.

In his first interview as CIO, Grimes said that if he had to pick a single challenge facing Defense networks, it would have to be security.

'The information systems have to be secure. Probably of all the things we have right now facing us in the information world, security is key,' Grimes said. 'When someone uses the system, they believe in the integrity of the data and that nobody has unauthorized access to it. That's probably the most critical thing we have facing us because of the continuous threat to networks by those that want to be mischievous.'

He also applauded the work of John Stenbit, former Defense CIO, for pushing the key net-centric transformational programs across DOD'including the Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion, Transformational Satellite and Net-Centric Enterprise Services initiatives.

'John Stenbit actually did a great job of codifying the net-centric enablers and those programs are somewhat institutionalized now in what we call 'power to the edge',' Grimes said.

Grimes previously served as deputy assistant secretary for counterintelligence and security countermeasures at Defense and held the title of deputy assistant secretary for Defense-wide command, control and communications. He also worked for the National Security Council as senior director of the White House Situation Support Staff.


  • business meeting (Monkey Business Images/

    Civic tech volunteers help states with legacy systems

    As COVID-19 exposed vulnerabilities in state and local government IT systems, the newly formed U.S. Digital Response stepped in to help. Its successes offer insight into existing barriers and the future of the civic tech movement.

  • data analytics (

    More visible data helps drive DOD decision-making

    CDOs in the Defense Department are opening up their data to take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that help surface insights and improve decision-making.

Stay Connected