DOD to revamp IT management

DOD to revamp IT management

By Christopher J. Dorobek

GCN Staff

The Defense Department has a plan on the drafting board to create a powerful systems management team that would hold the purse strings of the department's information technology budget.

The plan, being prepared for signature by Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, would create an Information Superiority Board to oversee systems management departmentwide. The board is a component of the Office of the Secretary of Defense's Global Network Information Enterprise initiative [GCN, May 10, Page 1]. Through GNIE, the secretary wants to establish a single DOD systems architecture.

The Information Superiority Board would be co-chaired by deputy secretary John J. Hamre and Gen. Joseph W. Ralston, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. DOD deputy chief information officer Marvin Langston would be the board's executive secretary. CIOs from throughout the department would also participate in the board.

According to the draft, the board would oversee all IT infrastructure issues, said Army Materiel Command CIO James D. Buckner. The ultimate goal is to build on the Defense Information Infrastructure's Common Operating Environment and forge a common systems infrastructure.

Buckner said the board would also have budget authority, which has been a critical concern of many Defense IT executives.

'We have tried as CIOs to build a common architecture'a platform on which all the activities can ride. We've had some difficulties with that because funding sources are aligned with functional programs,' Buckner said.

The fallout of this approach, he said, is that individual programs buy their own servers and create their own LANs. These networks follow DOD's architecture guidance, but the departmentwide guidelines are somewhat broad, Buckner said.

'You end up with a program building its own application infrastructure,' and the infrastructures vary slightly from program to program, Buckner said. 'Later you realize that you need interoperability [and] you find that they aren't quite compatible.'

The creation of the board would address a perpetual concern of many CIOs: They have a lot of responsibilities but not control of the money associated with those responsibilities, Buckner said.

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