DIA gets down to business on consolidating IT operations
- By Dawn S. Onley
- Apr 29, 2005
'Our adversaries have a tremendous advantage over us. They are incredibly agile. We need to get our IT assets agile.'
'DIA CIO Michael Pflueger
PHILADELPHIA'The Defense Intelligence Agency wants its IT directorate to function like a business and plans to start by consolidating IT operations.
In October, the agency will assume operational control and manage the IT spending of the Defense Department's 10 unified combatant commands, dispersed from Korea to Nebraska, as a part of a two-phased transformation strategy.
Mark F. Greer, vice deputy director of information management and deputy CIO at DIA, compared the move to building a world-class company where mission and administrative functions are separated.
The commands will go about their main task of warfighting while DIA handles IT operations with five globally dispersed help desks and enterprise software licenses. The commands currently run nine help desks.
The second phase includes transferring about 800 military and civilian workers from across the military services to DIA by Oct. 1, 2006. They include system administrators, IT specialists and engineers.
'We're taking an enterprise view for both the short and long term,' said Navy Vice Adm. Lowell 'Jake' Jacoby, director of DIA. 'We cannot hold sacred the things we've done in the past.'
The move is designed to control the IT spending of the 10 commands by centralizing the management and upkeep of defense information systems.
The consolidation will give employees a single e-mail account and log-in, and establish a common set of applications for a variety of functions, such as enterprise storage and disaster recovery and information assurance.
Jacoby said the unified approach also will help im- prove the collection and dissemination of intelligence data.
'We still resource and ac- quire systems independently, and it's difficult to put together a systems strategy with the way we acquire systems today,' Jacoby added.
Greer said that the move will not thwart creativity. If a command unit has a process that works well and is scalable to all 10 commands, the process will likely remain where it is, he said.
'It's not principally about efficiency in our minds, it's about effectiveness,' Greer said during a panel discussion at the 2005 Defense Department Intelligence Information System Worldwide Conference. 'We're going to manage your IT assets using best business processes that we've learned from industry. There's no intent to centralize creativity. The more transparency we have, there's a better chance to leverage those capabilities across the enterprise.'
Michael Pflueger, the intelligence agency's CIO, said his office would begin to narrow the commands' myriad IT operations and maintenance contracts. Pflueger's office also will look at ways to consolidate warehousing and storage services and will study analytical tools and content tagging technologies.
'Our adversaries have a tremendous advantage over us,' Pflueger said. 'They are incredibly agile. We need to get our IT assets agile. We really don't individually run our pieces of the infrastructure very well. It can't be the end state.'
For example, DIA helped one northeast regional service center consolidate 25 Microsoft Exchange servers down to five in just the last two weeks.
'That's one of the problems of not being an enterprise,' Pflueger said of the redundancy.
Some panelists voiced concern over the move. Army Brig. Gen. John Custer, director of intelligence at the U.S. Central Command, said employees' concerns about the transition include the implementation plan and job security.
'CENTCOM can't afford chaos, plain and simple,' Custer said. 'I'm concerned we can be a little bit aggressive. I'm happy DIA is making efficiencies, but we're fighting three wars.'
Greer said no government civilian em- ployee would be fired or forced out by the transition. But when someone retires, DIA would decide whether to fill the vacancy or use the money in another area.
DIA's Directorate for Information Management is seeking to transform the way analysts use and share information. DIA also is modernizing its desktop computers and moving to common e-mail, collaboration and storage systems on the Defense Department Intelligence Information System Trusted Workstation.