IT projects get a boost in DOD spending bills

IT projects get a boost in DOD spending bills

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

The Army's Force XXI digitization program, Defense Department information security and the Navy's Information Technology for the 21st Century initiatives received hearty budget increases in both House and Senate fiscal 2000 Defense appropriations bills.

The Senate passed a $258 billion Defense appropriations bill on June 8, the earliest reported date in 36 years.

The success of NATO's Operation Allied Force in Kosovo and the need for military readiness for the 21st century, when quicker movement of smaller units of troops will likely be necessary, spurred the committee to act swiftly, senators said.

The House passed its $288 million DOD appropriations bill two days later.

Members of the House Appropriations Committee expect to go to conference committee later this week, said Elizabeth Marra, a committee spokeswoman.

The Senate Appropriations Committee plans to meet by the end of the month to consider the resolved Defense appropriations bill so the House and Senate can vote on a final version of the fiscal 2000 funding bill before next month's congressional recess, said Ashleigh Roberts, a committee spokeswoman.

The House Armed Services Committee weighed in on the Army Materiel Command's controversial plans to modernize its wholesale logistics processes, through which nearly 500 jobs will be outsourced at the Communications-Electronics Command's Industrial Logistics System Center in Chambersburg, Pa., and Logistics Systems Support Center in St. Louis. The wording of the section may give federal employees at the two centers more job security.

CECOM issued a request for proposals for a contract this spring, and the command is requiring bidders to provide employment for all affected employees at the sites for at least a year. In the National Defense Authorization Act, committee members are calling on the secretary of the Army to 'provide the computer centers with an opportunity to establish their most efficient organization,' no later than May 31, 2001.

They also want civilian DOD employees to work with the selected vendors to ensure a smooth transition between the old computer system and its replacement.

The Senate Armed Services Committee added $120 million to President Clinton's request for DOD information assurance programs, projects and activities. They also gave $35 million more to enhance computer security at Energy Department laboratories for intrusion detection, early warning, reporting and analysis capabilities.

It's a gift

The Defense Logistics Agency would receive a $50 million gift from Senate Appropriations under a plan for its Automatic Document Conversion System, even though the president's budget did not request funding for the project.

The committee added $45 million to Clinton's request for Army Base Communications Information Systems to bring the total to $102 million for that program.

Lawmakers also added $12.5 million to the Army Information Systems Security Program, bringing that total to $41.3 million, and the committee approved the requested $100 million for Army base communication LANs.

The Army Force XXI Warfighting Rapid Acquisition Program at Fort Hood, Texas, would receive $15.3 million for its digitization training efforts to create the Army's first digitized division by the end of next year.

The Army's Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade and Below program's plans to buy 3,000 ruggedized, vehicle-mounted computers for the 4th Infantry Division's First Brigade received strong support, with $21.7 million added to give the program $65.9 million. The program received $27 million for this fiscal year.

The Senate committee tacked on $3.5 million to the Navy's Information Systems Security Program, to bring the proposed total to $67.6 million.

It also approved a budget of $470 million for IT-21, said Rear Adm. Richard May, the Navy's deputy director of space and information warfare, command and control, although IT-21 does not appear as a separate budget line item.

The Air Force would receive $122.8 million for the service's Base Information Infrastructure program, as well as $14 million for the Defense Message System.

The service would receive $71.2 million to purchase systems equipment and $28.4 million for its Base Level Data Automation program.

The National Guard and Reserves will also receive $300 million for unspecified equipment for modernization under the committee's plan.

The money will likely come in handy for the Army National Guard and Reserves, which is set to receive $83 million for the Reserve Component Automation System. Congress appropriated $108 million for RCAS this fiscal year.

The Defense Information Systems Agency would receive $20.9 million for its Information Systems Security program, as well as $28.3 million for DMS, both in line with Clinton's requests.

Senate Appropriations also approved the president's $102.8 million request for the Marine Corps Common Computer Resources program.

Kosovo dough

The Special Operations Command would receive $86.8 million for communications equipment and electronics under the budget.

Clinton reportedly assured House Armed Services Committee members that he would submit to Congress a supplemental fiscal 2000 budget for Kosovo peacekeeping operations, to ensure that readiness programs are not affected.

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