Navy reorganization aims to modernize business operations


Thomas Modly, Under Secretary of the U.S. Navy, discusses the restructuring effort of the Office of the Navy Secretary, and why breaking down organizational silos will be instrumental in that effort.

An effort to restructure two major leadership offices at the top of the Department of the Navy is  officially under way. Thomas Modly, Under Secretary of the U.S. Navy, told Government Matters Sunday the initiative to bring management and information technology functions directly under his jurisdiction was designed to streamline business operations in the Department. The initiative includes disestablishing the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy for Management and replacing it with a Chief Management Officer; and consolidating the authorities of the Navy Chief Information Officer into Modly’s portfolio as Under Secretary. Modly first outlined the changes in a memo to the Department in March.

Modly is now the Department’s Chief Management Officer as part of his responsibilities as Under Secretary. He named four initial “lines of effort” that he will monitor as CMO, each with its own leader, in the March memo. Modly listed the four areas as: improvement of audit outcomes and financial accountability; business systems rationalization and modernization; data strategy for improved business operations; and business reform across the Navy and DoD enterprise. “I didn’t want to have a single person on top of that organization. I’d rather function with a team that had certain lines of effort,” Modly said. “I recruited four, very experienced senior people that function as a team at the top of the office of the CMO. They report to me, but I asked them to work collaboratively together.”


Modly said he restructured the CIO office, and brought many of its functions into his office, because too many people were performing the same jobs.

“When I came in and started looking at it, there was a lot of redundancy. Each service also had their own CIO functions as well. They were essentially functioning as deputy CIOs for the Department of the Navy,” Modly said. “Our perspective was that… we could push accountability for day‑to‑day operations and chief information functions and keep the high-level strategic and as well as the compliance, things we have with the Congress and OMB at my level. But, it didn’t really require a separate office of the CIO.”

Modly says the changes support the National Defense Strategy’s tenants. “There are three elements of the National Defense Strategy. The first one is to basically increase lethality of the forces through improving our readiness. The second piece is to improve our alliances and partnerships, and the third element is through reform of our government processes and business processes within our various departments, free up capital so that we can invest in new capability and lethality. This is all about figuring out new ways to do business, so that we are a more agile organization, react more quickly and not spend as much money that we have in the past.”