Army CIO says bandwidth, not personnel, should be top priority

Army CIO says bandwidth, not personnel, should be top priority

Lt. Gen. William Campbell says outsourcing will become commonplace.

Lt. Gen. Campbell, set to retire in July, says outsourcing will help counter IT recruitment problem

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

Army systems managers at a service conference last month pressed the Army's chief information officer to discuss recruitment and retention problems.

Lt. Gen. William H. Campbell, during his speech at the Army Directorate of Information Management Conference in Houston, emphasized bandwidth demands, infrastructure needs and data security.

But the audience kept pushing him on personnel issues.

'We can't hire them or train them,' an Army civilian told Campbell, the Army's director of information systems for command, control, communications and computers. 'The system is broken.'

The Army official said it sometimes takes his organization six months to hire information technology workers. If Microsoft Corp. had to operate under the constraints the Army does, it would go out of business, he said.

Help on the way

Miriam Browning, director of information management at Army headquarters, is working on the personnel issue, said Campbell, who will retire in July. Campbell also gave the e-mail addresses of key Army officials who report to him and asked audience members to send in information about problems they have filling vacant jobs.

An official from the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., told Campbell that security clearances overly delay the hiring process. Another official said she had considered joining the contractor with which she works because of her low salary and problems with the service's technology infrastructure.

In his speech, Campbell noted that outsourcing will likely become more common, which could counter some recruitment problems.

In discussing the service's Wholesale Logistics Modernization Program and its contract with Computer Sciences Corp., he said he senses 500 software development employees at Army facilities in Chambersburg, Pa., and St. Louis 'feel they've been treated fairly.' Most will become CSC employees July 1.

Campbell acknowledged that he had not visited either facility but said that Maj. Gen. Robert L. Nabors, chief of the Communications-Electronics Command, had. He said the decision to outsource the project was directly related to personnel. Materiel Command officials did not think they could replace 30 million lines of code in two major logistics systems with in-house resources, Campbell said.

Outsourcing jobs and the use of Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76 reviews to determine which jobs to outsource 'are a reality,' Campbell said.

'In the information technology world, there will always be a combination of someone wearing a green suit and contractors,' he said.

Although personnel retention has become a prominent issue throughout government, Campbell said, achieving more bandwidth remains the Army's most pressing concern.

He encouraged systems managers to persuade their commanders in chief and commanding officers to make infrastructure upgrades the No. 1 IT priority.

He noted that bandwidth is a priority among Pentagon brass.'Defense Department IT chiefs are promoting infrastructure as the fundamental element of the Global Information Grid, a plan to create interoperable, secure networks connecting everything from satellites and sensors to desktop PCs, he said.

A civilian said improving infrastructure and getting more Defense Information Systems Network bandwidth isn't easy. She said that at her organization, the wait for additional circuits from the Defense Information Services Agency is often lengthy.

Come together

Campbell recommended that organizations at installations work together to leverage their demands and receive better service.

Part of the problem with service delivery is related to the pricing policy for DISN, he said.

Through DISN, users at remote installations and locations outside the United States receive voice, video and data service for the same price as U.S. users, he said.

Campbell said he has recommended a two-tier pricing model for DISN: one for worldwide connectivity and one that would reflect actual costs for continental U.S. services.

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