Army considers shuffling its systems groups

The change would dissolve one office and shift the responsibilities of the chief
information officer to another, according to an Army memo.


Under the proposed restructuring, the Army would eliminate the Office of the Director
of Information Systems for Command, Control, Communications and Computers (ODISC4). The
DISC4 also is the CIO for the service.


The post has been empty since the retirement last week of Lt. Gen. Otto Guenther as
DISC4. Dave Borland, Guenther's vice DISC4, is now acting DISC4.


President Clinton has nominated Maj. Gen. William Campbell to replace Guenther.
Campbell is the program executive officer for command, control and communication systems
in the Army's Communications-Electronics Command at Fort Monmouth, N.J.


The proposed organization shift would make the assistant secretary of the Army for
research, development and acquisition the service's CIO and give the assistant SARDA
oversight responsibilities for the Army's information resources.


The assistant SARDA post is also vacant. Gil Decker stepped down as assistant SARDA in
May. Kenneth Oscar, Decker's deputy for procurement, is the acting assistant SARDA.


Under the existing setup, the assistant SARDA is responsible for information technology
procurements, and the DISC4 is the military deputy on the acquisitions. Under the plan,
the assistant SARDA would assume sole responsibility for not only systems acquisitions but
information technology management as well.


Sara Lister, assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs, made the
proposal in a June 6 memorandum to Gen. Ronald Griffith, the Army's vice chief of staff,
general counsel William Cole-man III and administrative assistant Joel B. Hudson.


"ODISC4's focus has narrowed somewhat; emphasis and dollars have been diverted
from core information management functions to attend to and fund computers," Lister
said.


ODISC4 was created in 1987 with responsibility for information management. Army senior
management designated the Guenther as the service's CIO last year to fulfill the
requirements of the Information Technology Management Reform Act.


But a recent CIO implementation plan transferred many activities to other Army offices,
ensuring that "these core functions receive warranted attention and funding,"
Lister said.


"In view of the fact that ODISC4 has been divested of day-to-day responsibility
for core information management functions, and given the extensive overlap between ODISC4
and SARDA in the information technology arena, there appears to be no clear necessity to
maintain ODISC4 as a separate, standalone organization," she said.


Lister estimated that by merging ODISC4 and SARDA, the Army could eliminate 10 percent
of the staff assigned to ODISC4 and its field operations.


Although the shift would be "discomforting in the short-term," Lister said,
the move makes sense given the Army's long-term goals.


She recommended that Army Secretary Togo West implement the proposal by Sept. 1. Lister
accepted comments on the proposal from the SARDA and DISC4 offices earlier this month.


The ODISC4, in response to a GCN query, released the following statement through Army
Public Affairs: "The Army is always interested in proposals to improve its efficiency
and effectiveness. Assistant secretary Lister's letter is such a proposal and will be
thoroughly evaluated by all affected agencies. There is always room for open and honest
discussion within the Army."


But the acting assistant SARDA said he doubted the change would take place. "I
don't expect it to happen," Oscar said. "I think [ODISC4] has been working well.
You've got a three-star general, which gives it some clout and some parallelism with the
way DOD is organized. This proposal is a shot out of the blue that wasn't coordinated very
well."


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