New Defense CIO will weave IT, buying

Gansler, former director of Tasc Inc. of Arlington, Va., was sworn in Nov. 10 as DOD's
new acquisition and technology chief. The same day, Defense Secretary William Cohen
announced plans to implement DOD reforms, including a reorganization of the office of the
assistant secretary of Defense for command, control, communications and intelligence that
gave Gansler CIO responsibilities as well.


Cohen directed that the office of the ASD(C3I) be split into separate components for
intelligence and C3, and that the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and technology
assume all CIO and acquisition duties previously assigned to the ASD(C3I).


"This transfer enhances the significance of the CIO position in the department and
aligns the closely related Defense acquisition executive and CIO responsibilities under
one jurisdiction," Gansler said last month at an Armed Forces Communications
Electronics Association luncheon in Washington.


Gansler pointed out that the information technology environment has changed
dramatically in the 12 years since DOD created the C3I organization.


"Information systems are part of every weapons system and business application, so
it makes sense, from both an efficiency and budgetary standpoint, to incorporate
information technology into the overall DOD acquisition and technology framework," he
said.


Gansler said his goal over the next few years is to achieve dominant battlespace
awareness for U.S. forces. His shop must make sure that DOD systems provide the right
information to the right place at the right time, he said.


"If we are able to see, prioritize, assign and assess relevant data, our forces
will be able to improve situational awareness, decrease response time and make the
battlespace considerably more transparent," Gansler said.


DOD is planning a three-pronged IT acquisition strategy:


"During the last decade, when we put off modernization, our procurement account
dropped by more than 70 percent.


That's simply a path we cannot continue on," Gansler said.


Defense currently spends about $10 billion annually to develop and modernize its
systems and $15 billion to sustain existing C4 systems. But finding the money for IT
modernization in this era of shrinking Defense budgets will not be easy, he acknowledged.


As DOD's acquisition chief, Gansler said he wants to focus on two things: what DOD buys
and how it buys. DOD must embrace commercial buying methods and take full advantage of
management lessons learned by industry, Gansler said.


"The area that has received the most neglect over recent years is DOD's logistics
system, which today is largely based on the World War II model," he said.
"Focused logistics will help us to achieve much faster response at much lower
cost."


Re-engineering the process to take full advantage of advanced information systems is
the key to the transformation, Gansler said.


In one of his first moves as DOD acquisition chief, Gansler issued a policy memo to the
military services laying out an implementation plan for collecting and using contractor
past-performance information.


The policy is mandatory for all services and goes into effect Feb. 1. It stands in
marked contrast to the one-size-fits-all approach for evaluating how well a vendor has
performed on previous contracts--as is the case with current federal acquisition
regulations.


Under Gansler's policy, DOD will set different dollar thresholds for past-performance
based on business area: $5 million for systems, $1 million for services and IT, and $5
million for operations support.


A five-level rating scale--exceptional, very good, satisfactory, marginal and
unsatisfactory--will be used for all business sectors except construction and
architect-engineering.


Gansler has directed DOD's Life Cycle Information Integration Office to conduct a pilot
that will define interfaces to existing systems that gather past-performance information.


"Automation of collection and retrieval of PPI is critical to the full
implementation of this policy," Gansler said.


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