Army delays portal consolidation

Lack of funding forces Defense Knowledge Online to take a gradual approach to its rollout

If you have something set up that is working well, you don't want to mess with a good thing. Even if there are potential savings.'

' Kevin Carroll, Army

The Defense Department's plan to begin consolidating at least five of the service's portals into the central Defense Knowledge Online will have to wait a little longer than originally planned.

Kevin Carroll, the Army's program executive officer for enterprise information systems, said the funding to move the Army Knowledge Online portal to the new architecture all at once this fall is not available, so it will have to be done in steps. AKO is to be the foundation for the Defense portal.
The Army awarded Lockheed Martin Corp. a $152 million contract last July to run the AKO Portal, taking over from CherryRoad Technologies of Parsippany, N.J.

Lockheed, which would not comment on the AKO contract, has begun transition work and formally takes over the portal Oct. 1.

The company will by the end of June submit a proposal to implement the new architecture in segments, Carroll said.

'I'm not sure if this will cost us more,' he said. 'My instincts tell me so, but we will have to see.'

Carroll said the reason for the budget shortfall does not have to do with money being funneled out of Army programs for the war on terror, but because AKO has not been a program of record. He said that for the fiscal 2008 budget request, AKO is, for the first time, going through the formal request process in which it competes against other programs to be included in the final request that goes to Congress.

'It always has been a struggle to get money,' Carroll said. 'Lt. Gen. [Steven] Boutelle [Army CIO] has done a great job to get support for us. There is not a lot of money hanging around, however.'

Carroll said AKO received about $60 million in 2006 and he expects to receive the same amount in 2007.

In the meantime, he said, DOD still hopes to get some pieces of DKO up and running as soon as possible'maybe even this fall.

But bringing the department's services and agencies together under one portal could be like herding cats: They all like the idea of coming to a central location, but want to come on their own terms and when they are ready.

Different areas of focus

Each service has developed its own portal over the past several years, but with different areas of focus: the Army's has been e-mail; the Navy's has been logistics; the Air Force's portal concentrates on applications such as e-learning or personnel; and the MarineNet portal provides servicemen with online learning applications.

'All the services took a different tack, and that is the way they grew,' said Carroll, whose office is in charge of herding the portals into the new Defense Knowledge Online. 'The transition over to one portal is conceptually different, so if you have something set up that is working well, you don't want to mess with a good thing. Even if there are potential savings.'

One DOD portal

The Army and the Defense Information Systems Agency are moving forward with the vision of a single enterprise service online portal for all of DOD.

Along with representatives from the Navy, Air Force and other military agencies, the Army and DISA are leading the working groups to create the initial requirements and standards, and figure out what existing components can be reused, said Skip Harborth, the chief of future operations for AKO.

Peg David, NKO program manager in the Naval Education and Training Command, said the Navy shares DKO's goals of improved collaboration, coordination and the saving of resources.

'The Navy certainly has a vested interest in potential savings across the services,' she said, 'especially in the technology arena to lessen duplicative efforts.'

Carroll said the Army, DISA and the Joint Forces Command would be the first to come together under DKO, with the Navy and Air Force coming later. 'No one will be forced to move to DKO,' he said. But 'the benefit will be that [users] can use everyone else's portal.'

DISA CIO John Garing said building the Defense portal has some challenges, among them scaling it to support the number of users a Defense-wide portal would have, and that its contracting language is appropriate.

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