Army plans to cut programs, privatize jobs

Thomas White

Army secretary Thomas White has said the service will 'privatize every noncore function' as it transforms itself into an agency that relies on information systems as much as manpower.

But the transformation will come at a price. The Army will have to terminate at least 40 programs in its 2004 budget, White said.

'We're making the tough choices in order to fund the Army's future,' said White, who spoke this month at a luncheon in Arlington, Va., sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association of Washington. 'We have to improve our strategic mobility, therefore we must change.'

In an Oct. 4 memorandum, White said the Army needed to 'focus its energies and talents on our core competencies'functions we perform better than anyone else'and seek to obtain other needed products or services from the private sector where it makes sense.'

He said thousands of noncore government jobs, including some IT functions that are not directly connected to the Army's mission, could be outsourced.

The Army will start by privatizing base housing, White said. About $700 million has been allocated in 2003 for privatization, White said. The service plans to have outsourced all base housing by 2007. 'A lot of housing we have is in deplorable condition,' he said. 'We want to attract private capital.'

More money

Now is the perfect time to outsource, White said, because money is being allocated in record sums.

'This is the finest budget since the first year of the Reagan administration,' White said. 'Finally we are funding transformation to give ourselves the absolute best we can. We are assuming risks in the process.'

Under a broad transformation initiative, the Army plans to centralize its contracts. Earlier this month the service rolled out its new Network Enterprise Technology Command, which will manage IT systems enterprisewide.

White said the Army is relying on industry to play a critical role in developing new technologies to help the war on terrorism.

'Today we find ourselves the premier land force,' said White. 'We have to become a Web-based, network-centric force.'

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