Army deputy CIO/G6 Michael Krieger

2014 GCN AWARDS

Krieger molds the defense IT enterprise

It’s often true that, as the saying goes, the times draw the best out of a person. But it’s also the case that sometimes the right person and his talents happen to fit the needs of the times perfectly.

Mike Krieger, deputy chief information officer/G-6 for the Army, served 25 years in the service in operational roles in command and control and tactical communications. As a government senior executive, he also had several stints as acting Army CIO/G-6 and in the Defense Department’s Office of the CIO.

However, one of his greatest successes is the recent integration of enterprise email throughout the Army. From a slew of Microsoft Exchange servers run by different organizations – and sometimes by separate installations – the Army now has just one email service for its 1.5 million users run out of the Defense Information Systems Agency’s cloud.

Begun in 2009, the year after Krieger became deputy CIO, the four-year process was “terribly difficult,” he said.

“It was the first time in the Army that we’d tried to drive IT across active Army, reserves, National Guard, the Corps of Engineers and MedCom [Medical Command],” he said. “The resistance was tremendous.”

But beyond the cost savings, network efficiencies and vastly improved communications the new email system has produced, Krieger sees the success of the program as a model for getting other necessary IT jobs done.

Organizations across the Army are now comfortable drawing services from the enterprise compared to 2009-2010 when they still provided their own services to users. “That was a huge cultural change,” Krieger said.

Another other major change he’s witnessed is a shift in the belief that network capabilities need to be “very tip-of-the-spear,” to a recognition that there are things that can be better done from the enterprise. The change has enabled a much faster modernization within the Army than was previously possible.

“Success breeds success, and now people want to come forward and say what they want to do next,” Krieger said. “So the pace of change in the Army has picked up with the success of email, and I think you’ll see other programs, such as unified capabilities, go faster because we’ve removed those fears about it working or not.”

Dave Wennergren, former Navy CIO and now senior vice president at the Professional Services Council, said Krieger’s ability to build coalitions, married to a keen intellect and strong will, has produced IT progress in the military overall.

Krieger was a champion for the DOD’s Net Centric Data Strategy, said Wennergren, still the foundational document on the need to expose data and make it available “to be consumed by unanticipated users in ways that were never dreamed possible.”

“Mike got that strategy done and then guided the actual manifestation of it through communities of interest with his personality and sheer force of will,” Wennergren said. “He recognized that, in the 21st century, success will come in getting the right information to the right person at the right time, and I think that vision is a hugely central theme to the mission of the DOD.”

Krieger is set to retire from the Army at the end of October, though he’s quick to say it won’t be a real retirement. After taking time to sit back and relax a little, the man Wennergren said “has technology in his blood” expects to move on and do something he has passion for. “Something that maybe I can get someone to pay me for along the way,” he said.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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