By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, June 8, 2015 – A collaborative learning venture between the Defense Department and private-sector information technology companies features the exchange of IT personnel and the corresponding benefits of their knowledge, experience and skills for up to a year.
The Information Technology Exchange Program, or ITEP, gives the department and participating private-industry organizations the opportunity to share best practices and enhance employee and organizational capabilities through personnel assignments that can last from three months to a year, officials said.
Congress authorized the program in fiscal year 2010 and extended it until 2018 in Section 1106 of the fiscal 2014 DoD National Defense Authorization Act.
ITEP exchanges focus on IT personnel whose skill sets include commercial cloud services, mobility, cybersecurity, big data and data analytics, enterprise architecture, network services and others.
Information Technology Exchange
"The DoD cyber strategy recognizes the critical role industry plays in securing the nation's infrastructure," DoD Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen said.
"Expanding our industry exchange programs, like ITEP, is part of this effort,” he added. “Our goal is to create a strong, sustainable, collaborative IT exchange program that fosters partnership and innovation with industry."
Halvorsen is leading a visit June 8-12 of high-level DoD officials to companies and other organizations in Seattle, Washington, and Silicon Valley in northern California, to help improve collaboration between DoD and the technology sector.
Gary Evans, team lead for information management in the office of the DoD CIO for resources and analysis, said that by law ITEP allows participation in the program by no more than 10 people at a time.
A selectee must work in the IT field, be considered an exceptional employee, be expected to assume greater future responsibilities, and be a GS-11 or higher or the equivalent, he added.
For industry participants, Evans said, “additional requirements are that they must be U.S. citizens and they may be required to hold a security clearance depending on the nature of the detail.”
He added, “We want to be able to engage with technical subject-matter experts from the best cybersecurity and IT companies in the country.”
Today, Evans said, one IT expert from Cisco Systems Inc. that’s based in San Jose, California, has been participating in the ITEP program since last October.
Cisco Director of Advanced Services Robert Roffey, who is detailed for a year to the DoD CIO Information Enterprise’s Enterprise Capability Directorate, is an IT strategist with 20 years in the field.
“Professionally,” he said, “I have tended to bridge between strategy and execution. When executives identify the direction they want to [take], my ability is to drive the action, get the organization lined up and deliver on the direction that leader wanted to take.”
Roffey was recruited to participate in ITEP, and he and his family had to decide whether he wanted to spend a year commuting back and forth to the East Coast. His son is a high school freshman who would be affected by the absence, so Roffey discussed it with him.
“The comment he made that really sealed the deal for me was, ‘Well Dad, I don't think this is something you can turn down. I only have one question ... can I brag about it to my friends?’"
‘Serving My Country’
Roffey said his son’s comment “put it in a very different perspective for me that I'm going to go do … more than just corporate work. I'm actually serving my country, which is what I think a lot of folks in the DoD are here for.”
What he’s doing in the Enterprise Capability Directorate is helping codify strategy into policy, Roffey said, “so taking what is important for Mr. Halvorsen, what he wants to accomplish, and trying to ensure that we get the proper documentation in place that supports that objective.”
Roffey said he’s been fortunate to work with a dedicated group of people who enjoy what they do -- DoD civilians and contractors -- and who bring a wealth of knowledge to the job.
“I have so enjoyed getting into a … completely new environment and trying to figure out how to make change stick here,” Roffey said.
“Let's be honest, the government is completely different and it's the first public sector work I've done, so the added challenge of doing the work but trying to figure out how to make it successful here has been great,” he added.
Roffey said he likes his work so much that he doesn’t mind the travel. For the first six months he flew home to California every weekend, but now he’s here one week and home the next.
For potential ITEP applicants, Roffey said the program is an important growth opportunity.
“I'm a huge fan [of the notion] that we as professionals are made up as a mosaic of our experiences, and the broader and deeper those experiences, the more dynamic our mosaic is,” he explained.
Roffey said he’s pleased to be in Washington and doing something for the government that he hopes adds value.
He added, “Looking at what Secretary Carter has said as his objective, the push to get closer to business, I think the tip of the spear is trying to help figure out ways to make that happen, and I have this one piece of it.”
Roffey said he’s “able to share information in a way that, if I was in a Cisco sales meeting with the DoD, I couldn't have the same conversations.”
He added, “So I feel like I'm getting a chance to share insight and help influence how we move things forward in a way that I never would have been able to if I was sitting inside Cisco.”