Candidates for the Warrant Officer Information Systems Management (ISM) specialty are drawn exclusively from the Information Systems Technician (IT) rating. As CWOs, they are experts in all aspects of information systems and related fields, including networks (installation, maintenance, performance, security, etc.), IT software development and installation, system standardization, certification and accreditation of IT personnel and systems, hardware development, and security policies, to name just a few. Because of their extensive hands-on experience, they often serve in key C4IT positions at headquarters, the C4IT Service Center in Alexandria, Virginia, and an array of shore units and numerous Centers of Excellence (Great Lakes, DHS, Navigation, Ice Capabilities, etc.).

While all branches of the United States Armed Forces are increasingly focused on the integration of various information systems into all levels of operations, the Coast Guard’s ISM Warrant Officers face significant hurdles as it seeks to replace legacy hardware systems and stovepiped software applications. In 2018, for instance, the service plans to retire its entire accounting system and migrate its data to a shared federal services platform. Another major implementation that ISM CWOs will be involved in is the Logistics Information Management System (LIMS), the Guard’s primary maintenance software for its HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft. Over the next fives years, the Coast Guard hopes to bring all vessels and aircraft as well as several shored-based systems into LIMS.

The benefits of such enterprise-wide applications are enormous, but there are a great deal of “moving targets” involved whenever transitioning from legacy systems. In 2015, for instance, the Coast Guard wound up spending $68 million in an effort to save money by modernizing its electronic health records system—and wound up returning to a paper-based system after all was said and done.

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