Navy examines Web 2.0 tech for use on internal networks

Navy officials want to adopt Web 2.0 tools such as Facebook and Wikipedia, but they will likely deploy their own versions of those technologies, said Robert Carey, the Navy Department’s chief information officer.

For example, the Navy’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC) deployed a Facebook-like application on its private network to give legal teams a way to collaborate, Carey said today at the Naval IT Day conference sponsored by AFCEA International’s Northern Virginia Chapter.

“It didn’t cost a lot of money, and it created a capability to network and ensure that if someone has expertise in a certain area and someone else had a question in that area, you can link the two rapidly,” he said.

“If the OGC team can do it, then I think certainly the rest of the Navy can as well,” Carey said.

In addition to improving collaboration, Carey said Web 2.0 tools could help the Navy comply with the Obama administration’s reporting and transparency mandates for spending funds under the economic stimulus law. The Navy does not have automated tools that provide the level of detail required by the Office of Management and Budget, and Web 2.0 tools could help fill that void, he said.

However, Web 2.0 technology is not designed for use in a strict command structure, Carey said. “It does flatten the organization,  which makes us nervous because we’re not a flat organization, we are a rank organization,” he said.

The Navy will likely follow OGC’s model for deploying in-house versions of social media tools because it gives Navy officials the control they need, Carey said. However, commercial platforms could be allowed on internal networks, he added.

“We don’t want to reinvent any wheels, but I can’t have an open intersection with the Internet for the information shared by Navy personnel,” Carey said.

The commander of the U.S. Southern Command uses Facebook, and Carey said he plans to see what challenges that officer faces.

“Good ideas come from wherever they come from,” Carey said. “You just have to be able to embrace the ideas, challenge them and then put them to use. You’ve got to ensure that you have the proper chain of command where it is necessary, and where you can be flat, be flat.”

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Washington Technology.

Reader Comments

Sun, Mar 8, 2009 Jason Hull http://www.opensourceconnections.com

Posting their own Facebook page, just like posting Trooptube, ignores the fact that their people are ALREADY on the social networks. Proscription only goes so far. How about tunneling to them through government networks and capturing those conversations and adding them to the general knowledge base? The conversations are going to happen anyway; since they're happening on government computers about government activities, the government should be leveraging that knowledge. At least a third of my Facebook friends are ones who I served with and are still in. Facebook is MUCH easier to have those conversations in than, for example, AKO or DKO.

Fri, Mar 6, 2009 Teri Centner Stuttgart, Germany (by way of USA)

By doing stuff like this, the Navy limits their own knowledge base by eliminating the possibility for crowdsourcing. The more people that can access your wiki, the more people will improve the content there. And as far as Facebook for lawyers goes, I’m sure other JAGs in other Services have similar issues and that having a Facebook-like application for DoD lawyers, National Security lawyers, or even all Federal Lawyers, could be very beneficial to all.

If we had one *giant* Facebook for the whole federal government, people wouldn’t be limited to who they could connect to or form groups with. Just as Facebook has groups for both Gov 2.0 and a more narrow Defense 2.0, a federal Facebook could offer various levels of crowdsourcing, as well as the opportunity for cross-pollenation among friends of friends of friends or colleagues of acquaintances of co-workers.

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