Departing Words from the Navy CIO

Robert Carey Sees Military-Style Approach to Infosec Making Inroads in the .Gov DomainWith his transfer to the navel cyber command around Labor Day, Robert Carey's 4-year tour as Navy chief information officer ends, as does his co-chairmanship of the Federal CIO Council's information security and identity management committee. The committee's perch afforded Carey the chance to contrast the cybersecurity approach of the military and civilian agencies.

Carey, in an interview with, speaks of the advantage he sees the military has over its civilian counterpart in getting its components agencies to address quickly IT vulnerabilities. The military has a command structure in which its units must abide by orders; civilian agencies have the Department of Homeland Security's United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team that advises the .gov domain of threats, but cannot order them to act.

"We need to move with some great speed and alacrity in the Internet age," Carey says. "We do not have time to have people to report back X-days later that they did or didn't do something."

Carey suggests that the civilian side of the federal government consider adopting a chain of command similar to that of the military, and says he sees movement in that direction by the Obama administration and Congress to grant DHS more authority as the lead agency in defending civilian-side cyber. "There is a desire," Carey says.

"Some of the draft legislation on the Hill actually references that," he says. "They're getting ready to really unleash - I don't want to say chain of command but I'll say - (to) tap an organization on the shoulder and say, 'Here's the person who is the lead on all these things.'"

Among other topics Carey addresses in the interview:

  • Lessons learned about IT security during his four years as Navy CIO that he will carry to his new post as director of strategy and policy at the Navy Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet.
  • Improved collaboration among departments and agencies across the entire government to collaborate on cybersecurity.
  • Benefits to the Navy and his career on his move to a new assignment. "I know when to salute and move on," he said.

Carey joined the Navy's Office of CIO in 2000, regularly being elevated from e-business team leader, to director of the Smart Card Office, to deputy CIO for policy and integration to CIO. Previously, Carey served in a variety of engineering and program management leadership positions within the Navy's acquisition community in the undersea warfare domain. A 1982 graduate of the University of South Carolina with a bachelor of science in engineering, Carey earned a master of engineering management degree from George Washington University in 1995. He's an active member of the Naval Reserve, he holds the rank of commander and soon will be promoted to captain in the Civil Engineer Corps. Carey was recalled to duty for Operation Desert Storm and more recently as part of a Marine expeditionary force in Iraq's Al Anbar province.

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