Warfighting systems to get Clinger-Cohen treatment

'We are trying to take a holistic approach in how we move forward.'

'Lt. Gen. RoBert Shea

Henrik G. de Gyor

HERSHEY, Pa.'The Defense Department's warfighting systems have always been beyond the reach of most federal management policies and practices. That's about to change.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff plans to apply the Clinger-Cohen Act to warfighting systems programs and is drafting a policy to make the practices mandatory, said Lt. General Robert Shea, director of command, control, communications and computer systems for the Joint Staff.

'What we are doing is trying to take good things in Clinger-Cohen and incorporate them into a warfighting perspective,' Shea said last week at the Industry Advisory Council's ELC.

There needs to be more management discipline and a new focus on developing capabilities instead of applications, he said.

Shea said the Joint Staff and Defense chieftains are working on the policy directive for release by the end of the month. Clinger-Cohen, which established management and acquisition reforms for federal IT, excludes warfighting systems.

'We are referring to the CIO approach in Clinger-Cohen that gives the CIO a tremendous amount of authority,' Shea said. 'In the past, we haven't stopped to think about the capabilities and the data. We were thinking too much of buying things instead of end-to-end capabilities.'

The directive will require IT officials to ask a series of questions during development of systems for the battlefield:
  • Have the people affected by a system's development and deployment been identified?

  • What are the performance parameters for the system?

  • Has an employee-training plan been drafted?

  • Is lifecycle support in place?

  • Is network bandwidth available?

  • Does the system comply with interoperability standards?

  • Is the security adequate?

  • Has there been sufficient testing?

'As we work systems through the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, which is chaired by the Joint Staff's vice chairman, we are trying to take a holistic approach in how we move forward,' Shea said.

Whether the effort succeeds, he said, will depend on whether the Joint Staff enforces the policy.

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