Army exec: Let's improve app development prowess

Army exec: Let's improve app development prowess

The Army's T. Kevin Carroll says he wants the STAMIS organization to be able to develop software on time.

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

If T. Kevin Carroll has his way, the program executive office for Standard Army Management Information Systems will become one of the Defense Department's premier software development organizations.

"It's a tough area because software development is notorious for cost overruns and schedule delays," said Carroll, who became the program executive officer for STAMIS in April. He said he wants people to say PEO STAMIS 'is a place where they can develop software at least close to schedule.

Carroll oversees 146 employees and 21 programs, and PEO STAMIS has an annual budget of $500 million, aside from the joint DOD activities it's involved in and the money its customers spend.

"We run the business systems and the support systems that feed into the Army's command and control systems," he said.

Within three years, Carroll wants PEO STAMIS to earn a Level 3 Capability Maturity Model certification from the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.

"We've had successes and failures" in software development, Carroll said. Software development involves repeated processes that let organizations learn from their mistakes, he said.

It is difficult to please users when they have to change software, Carroll said. "People complain any time you change. The new product might not have the same special features as the old one."

Carroll sees the Standard Procurement System contract with American Management Systems Inc. of Fairfax, Va., as typical for joint DOD software development projects'it has been delayed by quality problems. 'Congress was finally hearing the complaints from users six months later, he said. "I think SPS will happen. ' Some users will have to delay SPS implementation a couple of years, probably."

Carroll wants to bring PEO STAMIS customers'such as the recruiters who use the Army Recruiting Information Support System'into the process early. At Fort Hood, Texas, for example, 'soldiers are moving the mouse around and playing with the catalog for the Global Combat Support System'Army," he said.

When Army officials decided to keep PEO STAMIS as a standalone organization and have the position filled at a senior executive service level, Carroll was happy to take the position.

It's more like his previous post as associate director of Communications-Electronic Command Acquisition Center'Washington; it's focused on the information technology business, unlike an earlier acquisitions job he had at Fort Monmouth, N.J., he said.

Half of PEO STAMIS' mission-critical systems are year 2000-ready, while the other half should be ready and fielded by Oct. 1, Carroll said. Officials at Fort Lee in Virginia and Col. Skip DeCantor, the deputy PEO STAMIS who was acting PEO when Carroll came in, did most of the readiness work, he said. "All of our logistics and personnel [systems] are fixed. They're all in the fielding process or completed" with it, he said.

Despite some criticism of the Total Army Distance Learning Program, Carroll said it doesn't need a major overhaul.

The systems are being delivered and the classrooms set up. We're working together to make sure we don't duplicate activities" by consolidating deployments, for example, Carroll said.

Government Technology Services Inc.'s STAMIS II indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract is back on track, Carroll said, adding that the Chantilly, Va., company had suffered some delivery problems. Products delivered through the contract had a year 2000 readiness problem that has been resolved, he said.

Results first

When STAMIS II comes up for recompetition, PEO STAMIS officials may draft the contract as a blanket purchasing agreement, Carroll said.

Carroll wants to try performance-based contracting, which would pay a vendor based on the delivery of predetermined results, but he does not have any particular contract in mind that would be appropriate.

"I appreciate [the concept] and now I want to use it. The only dilemma I run into is the control of funds" for paying the vendor based on performance, he said.'

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