Army Materiel Command strives to make service's databases more interoperable

Army Materiel Command strives to make service's databases more interoperable

'If a soldier wears it, eats it, uses it, shoots it, flies it,' Army Materiel Command supplies it, CIO James Buckner says.

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

The Army Materiel Command's chief information officer wants to deploy systems that are more interoperable and distributed, and he's publishing a common operating environment document to guide the organization toward that goal.

The command's legacy systems have performed well but are getting more difficult to maintain, CIO James Buckner said. 'We need more mainstream and robust distributed systems.''

AMC maintains 60 independent databases through its Logistics Supply Activity's Logistics Integrated Database at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., but it is working to merge them into a master database over the next few years, Buckner said.

'It's hard to find information'' through the databases, Buckner said. 'Our challenge is to merge them.'' With a master logistics database, each piece of data would be assigned an owner who would have authority to make changes to that record, so changes would need to be made only one time, he said.

Global reach

AMC's 60,000 employees work in 24 countries and 40 states, and are based at the Army Research Laboratories, the Communications'Electronics Command, and various depots and industrial operations. AMC logistics assistance representatives work in every Army division to ensure that the units get the materiel they need, Buckner said.

AMC spends up to $320 million of its $8.8 billion annual budget on information technology, Buckner said.

Although the Defense Logistics Agency supplies a wide range of products and services to the Defense Department, Buckner said, AMC supports the Army and parts of DOD with readiness supplies. 'If a soldier wears it, eats it, uses it, shoots it, flies it ' we supply it,'' he said.

No duplicates

'We continually have dialogue with DLA to make sure we don't overlap'' in systems development, he said. Buckner adopted DOD's Joint Technical Architecture to AMC and published it during the summer.

Buckner said AMC likes the Defense Information Infrastructure's Common Operating Environment. He is a former chief engineer at the Defense Information Systems Agency, which runs the DII COE program.

'We expanded DII COE and focused and expanded it to AMC's needs'' after testing and certification at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., Buckner said. 'We put a little of our philosophy and put some of our cookbook instructions for how to make it work in our commands.''

Flexible standards

Gen. William Campbell, the Army's director of information systems for command, control, communications and computers, and David Borland, the vice director, are 'allowing us some flexibility in [setting] interoperability standards,'' Buckner said.

'Let's not reinvent the wheel,'' Buckner said. 'We do want to see people share results. If a system works well, let's adopt it for another organization.''

Buckner said AMC managers often tell him they have unique situations that make developing proprietary systems appropriate. But Buckner said he wants to change such thinking.

As part of AMC's logistics modernization effort, Buckner wants the Command Commodity Support System, an acquisition and flow supply processing system, to work with the Standard Depot System for industrial operations. Both systems are more than 20 years old. The mainframe CCSS has 10 million lines of code and 1,200 interfaces, and SDS has 12 million lines of code, Buckner said.

'Many of the capabilities that we need are available in [commercial] products,'' Buckner said. 'There are packages out there that can be used in total or part. We don't need unique code. Today, you've got counterparts in industry doing the same thing.''

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