AF will name systems czar to develop infrastructure

AF will name systems czar to develop infrastructure

Secretary F. Whitten Peters says the service needs full-time help for the part-time CIO.

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

The Air Force has created a Senior Executive Service position overseeing systems development and funding'a systems czar of sorts who will report to the chief information officer.

This is the first step toward implementing a standard information technology infrastructure, said Air Force Secretary F. Whitten Peters at a recent Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association luncheon.

The civilian position, which would rank in the chain of command at the three-star general officer level, 'is full-time help for our part-time CIO,' Peters said. The service's CIO, Lawrence J. Delaney, is also the assistant secretary for acquisition.

Now, the service must fill the job, he said. It has begun advertising for the post, deputy assistant secretary for business and information systems management.

By creating such a position, service officials want to 'ruthlessly enforce standards,' Peters said. He cited a major Air Force command that has 1,400 servers at 40 bases, a single wing with 47 separate LANs and a single base with 353 network gateways.

What's more, Peters said, the service recently discovered that one of its product centers has 80,000 security holes, he said.

'Through decentralization of purchasing and system design, we have created an environment where our IT infrastructure is inappropriate for the work we are trying to do and the number of trained personnel we have to do that work,' he said.

Systems star

The new deputy assistant secretary for business and information systems management would take charge of Air Force headquarters systems, command and control support systems, and all administrative systems, Peters said.

Brig. Gen. Anthony 'Bud' Bell, deputy commander for the Air Force Communications and Information Center, said the service's management wants to mandate that bases and installations use the same software configurations, which would reduce training costs and increase interoperability.

It is difficult for the service to standardize on products, however, because of vendor protests and because of the decentralization of budget appropriations, he said.

But the new systems czar would control a large budget and could help officials at the Communications and Information Center and the Standard Systems Group mandate product use throughout the service, Air Force officials said.

'This position will be responsible to the CIO, the chief of staff and myself for establishing an overall IT architecture' and ensuring that existing systems migrate to that architecture, Peters said.

The deputy assistant secretary would also control the service's IT budget, 'including the budget for both classified and unclassified networks, and the network infrastructure that supports our command and control, business and combat support systems,' he said.


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