Pentagon's business systems plan goes global

New version of blueprint arrives as program oversight moves to Defense acquisition office

Designed around thousands of systems, the Defense Department's new enterprise architecture will usher in what some people are calling the biggest IT transition ever undertaken.

The effort, called the Business Management Modernization Program, is nearing a crucial stage. Next month, DOD will release Version 2.4 of its business enterprise architecture and its plan for the transition to using the blueprint, according to officials at IBM Corp., the company designing the architecture under a $100 million contract. When it is released, every business system at DOD'more than 4,000 of them'will have to comply with the new architecture.

The transition to the architecture will happen as oversight of the program shifts from the Defense comptroller to the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

Paul Tibbits, BMMP director, said the move is aligned with the new phase of the program, which is to launch new, or accelerate existing, enterprise programs for DOD.

New standards

'This requires the establishment of more traditional acquisition programs for these DOD-wide solutions, under more formal acquisition program oversight,' Tibbits stated in a status report posted on the BMMP Web site last month.

Further, Tibbits said, most of the business processes and transactions within DOD that must be changed to meet DOD's objectives for delivering services more quickly and achieving a clean financial audit, lie within AT&L's oversight.

Version 2.4 is not the final version of the architecture, but it includes the last crack DOD officials will take at writing requirements for Increment One, which covers business processes that support asset accountability, clean financial au- dits and total force visibility, a Defense spokeswoman said.

The new version includes technical standards, system interfaces and definitions of system functionality.

'The products in the release are integrated so that, for example, the data, business rules and system functionality needed to support a particular process step are clearly identified,' said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Rose-Ann Lynch, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

Defense has spent about $300 million on the BMMP effort, Pentagon officials said. The total bud- get for DOD to operate, maintain and modernize its business systems is $5.2 billion for fiscal 2005.

BMMP's objective is to streamline DOD's business and financial management processes.
'This transformation is the most complex and most significant in scale of any enterprise that has undertaken transformation,' said Linda Marshall, the IBM official responsible for BMMP.

One of the first ways the department plans to test the interoperability of the systems is to generate a clean financial audit opinion, something that was impossible under the old system, which had at least 5,500 separate and incompatible financial and inventory management systems.

Pentagon accountants had trouble accurately reporting the cost of transactions because business systems vary from base to base. For example, one base might call a bolt a bolt, while another base calls it a connecting device. DOD would have no way to determine how much it actually spends on bolts.

BMMP is designed to eliminate such incompatibility. 'The architecture is defining the benchmark for how systems should behave,' Marshall said.

This means every business system at the Pentagon will have to be reviewed. Some will meet the new requirements, others will need to be upgraded and still others will be eliminated or replaced.

For systems that must be replaced, the Pentagon may develop new systems or buy commercial solutions.

A case in point is the joint payroll and human resources system, called the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System. DIMHRS predates BMMP but is closely aligned with the project, said Doug McVicar, program director for Northrop Grumman Corp., which is working on DIMHRS.
The requirements for DIMHRS have evolved over time, and many of those revisions have been to meet the BMMP standards, he said.

The BMMP aims to define a common set of business objects, business functions and data ob- jects for DOD business systems, McVicar said.

An example of a function crossing agency boundaries under DIMHRS is pay garnishment. If a military member's pay is garnished to meet a court order, under DIMHRS and BMMP it is a common object that can be recognized by the payroll system and the agency that is supposed to collect the funds.

Change is difficult

Pentagon officials do not expect the change to be easy.

'With change comes resistance. DOD is no different,' Pentagon of-ficials said. 'Establishing a vision and a plan for business transformation and linking our objectives to warfighter needs will help break down cultural resistance.'

To address these challenges, DOD is tweaking its transition plan. The six domains under which Defense has identified its business operations'accounting and finance, acquisition, human resources management, installations and environment, logistics, and strategic planning and budgeting'are being restructured to focus on business missions, Tibbits said.

'As we move to an implementation mode, the focus now shifts from specific business functions to real, day-to-day business missions'with seamless processes that provide end-to-end delivery of a capability to warfighters and the leaders of the DOD,' he said. 'Instead of acquisition and logistics serving as separate domains, for example, we will have materiel management and weapon system lifecycle management as business missions that seamlessly deliver capability.'

BMMP information is available on the current 2.3 version, but look for significant improvements when 2.4 is released in March, Marshall said.

'What you'll see in 2.4 is something that is complete and well-integrated,' she said. 'It will include not just the architecture but the transition plan content. There are drafts that are a work in progress, but we're really revamping it now'.

About the Authors

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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