DOD questions House's final '99 authorization bill

Provisions in the House Defense authorization bill would diminish the role
of the Defense Department chief information officer, hurt interoperability efforts and
hinder year 2000 initiatives, DOD officials told lawmakers recently.

In an appeals package sent to Capitol Hill last month, Defense brass urged the House
National Security Committee to delete provisions that they said would weaken DOD programs.

Congress is in recess until after Labor Day, when House and Senate conference committee
members will meet to reconcile differences in the House and Senate bills.

Defense officials are especially opposed to a House provision that would give more
responsibility to service and agency-level CIOs, the appeals report noted.

Under the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996, Defense Secretary
William Cohen in June 1997 delegated the department’s IT responsibilities to the
Defense CIO. He relegated service and agency CIOs to the position of advisers to the
department CIO.

“The proposed language would assign to the CIOs of the military departments the
responsibilities to eliminate duplicate information technology and to coordinate with the
Joint Chiefs of Staff,” DOD said in its report. “It would thus dilute the
authority of the secretary of Defense by countermanding direction he provided to implement
the Clinger-Cohen Act within DOD.”

The report also said the language would have a detrimental effect on DOD’s ability
to achieve information superiority and implement its long-term joint systems plans. DOD
officials also suggested that the bill would lead to duplicative systems efforts within
the department by fragmenting systems oversight.

DOD also objected to $298 million in cuts the bill seeks in Army, Navy, Air Force and
Defense-wide operations and maintenance accounts. The House reduced O&M funding
earmarked for replacing legacy systems.

“The House cut of $298 million will significantly reduce funding flexibility
needed during fiscal 1999 to ensure that software is year 2000-compliant,” the report
said. “In addition, it will damage other software initiatives such as information
security requirements.”

The House also wants to cut $33.2 million from DOD’s fiscal 1999 request for the
Joint Continuous Acquisition and Lifecycle Support program. DOD argued that the money is
needed to field JCALS at 97 sites by 2000 and the cuts will hurt the program office’s
support of 16,000 existing JCALS users.

“This reduction will impair DOD’s ability to use JCALS infrastructure to
achieve a paperless environment, thus reducing savings in acquisition overhead,” the
DOD report said. “A delay in fielding and completion of JCALS will force the
department to maintain and to upgrade inefficient, non-year 2000-compliant legacy systems
well into the next century.”

Defense officials also oppose a House provision that would define a smart card program
as including all forms of automated identification technology (AIT).

The bill wants to give AIT program and funding oversight to the Smart Card Technology
Office (SCTO) of the Defense Human Resources Field Activity.

“DOD is opposed to the House provision because it limits the department’s
ability to obtain the greatest and most cost effective benefits from this new
technology,” Defense officials wrote. “AIT is not a subset of smart card
technology. Rather, the reverse is true.”

DOD wants to use ID technologies such as bar codes, optical memory cards and radio
frequency devices to track military equipment and parts along cargo routes (see story, Page 56).  


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