INTERVIEW: Army sees role for outsourcing

INTERVIEW: Army sees role for outsourcing

James D. Buckner

James D. Buckner in January of last year became chief information officer of the Army Materiel Command, which has 58,000 employees at 285 locations in 40 states and 24 countries.

Whatever a soldier shoots, drives, flies, wears or eats, the command delivers. Buckner oversees all information technology policy, planning, funding and use throughout the command.

Buckner has worked in the government for 10 years, starting as deputy commander and deputy chief of staff for advanced technology and concepts for the Computer Systems Division at the Gunter Annex of Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

He talked with GCN about the Army's plans for outsourcing and programs such as seat management.

Who's In Charge

Lt. Gen. Peter M. Cuviello

Chief Information Officer and Director of Information Systems for Command, Control, Communications and Computers

David Borland

Deputy CIO and Vice Director of Information Systems for C4

T. Kevin Carroll

Program Executive Officer for Standard Army Management Information Systems

Maj. Gen. Steven W. Boutelle

Program Executive Officer for Command, Control and Communications Systems

Miriam Browning

Director of Information Management

Maj. Gen. Robert L. Nabors

Commander of the Communications-Electronics Command at Fort Monmouth, N.J.

James D. Buckner

CIO, Army Materiel Command at Fort Detrick, Md.

Brig. Gen. John P. "Pat" Cavanough

Commander of the Army Signal Center at Fort Gordon, Ga.


(in millions, fiscal 1999)

Brown and Root$518.2
Raytheon Co.$317.2
GTE Corp.$250.3
Computer Sciences Corp.$208.1
Bell Atlantic Corp.$179.5
General Dynamics Corp.$155.4
Boeing Co.$147.6
Lockheed Martin Corp.$145.7
Arinc Inc.$122.7
GTSI Corp.$110.7

Sources for this GCN
Snapshot include the Army and
Input of Vienna, Va.

BUCKNER: We've got to do what's best for the government and the government worker. At the same time, what I'm trying to do as a civil servant and manager is to provide the taxpayer with the best service at the lowest price.

But I also want to get the best service at the best value. If it's a government contractor or a government team that can provide the best work, that's good.

What I need to make clear is that my desires in seat management will not dictate how we do Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76 studies. I'm not trying to push seat management to reduce our number of government workers.

The A-76 effort is carefully orchestrated by Congress, which dictates how you do it. All the things that ultimately dictate the process'the Quadrennial Defense Review, A-76, base closures and realignments'are done at a much higher level.

Capt. David B. Nolan, special projects officer for the Army Communications'Electronics Command's Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate, tests the use of videoconferencing in the battlefield. Aboard a Humvee, Nolan runs Microsoft's NetMeeting 3.01 videoconferencing software and an interactive voice exchange application under Microsoft Windows 95 on an IBM ThinkPad. The command is working on tactical systems prototypes for the Army's battlefield digitization program.

We're pushing seat management because we think it's the most effective way of doing business. We think it's flexible enough to enable us to buy the level of service we need, as provided through the Outsourcing the Desktop Initiative for NASA and the General Services Administration's Seat Management contracts.

The Simulation, Training and Instrumentation Command, our subordinate command in Orlando, Fla., has completed a seat management pilot and used a GSA Seat Management contract for its 1,000 PCs. Litton PRC Inc. is managing the network and the help desk and recently took ownership of the computers. Litton PRC will maintain, refurbish and replace them.

Eventually, we would like to see a cost figure for information technology before and after seat management, as well as a look at systems performance and productivity before and after.

It's all theirs

Seat management is a broad concept. STRICOM has outsourced everything they do. They have a small government staff supervising the contractor. On the other end, we could have a government team that does the technical work, and then turn to a contractor for the equipment. We differentiate that from seat management as leasing because with seat management you're talking about contractor ownership of the equipment.

Computer technology changes so quickly that it doesn't make sense to hold on to products for more than two or three years. So we're not interested in leasing.

My role as CIO is to ensure that contractors we bring in use standard architecture and tools and that we have systems interoperability.

Our facilities are pretty independently run, so we don't plan to bring in a single contractor to take care of any jobs that get outsourced. A single contractor doing everything is a good idea, but it can get to be too large for one company.

Major programs

Army University Online Access'Through this new six-''year, $600 million initiative, the Army will create an online program that will give soldiers stationed around the globe access to college-level and technical certification training via the Internet. A single vendor or consortium of vendors will wire Army barracks with broadband optical fiber, run help desks, and provide equipment and Internet service provider accounts. The service plans to award contracts for by year's end.

Digital Switched Systems Modernization Program'Nineteen vendors are helping the service consolidate its data and voice communications worldwide through a 10-year, $1 billion project. The service is building the system with commercial technology and using Integrated Services Digital Network, asynchronous transfer mode and LAN-emulation applications.

Infrastructure Solutions II'Telos Corp. of Ashburn, Va., is selling hardware, software, servers, peripherals and services to help Army organizations modernize their networking infrastructures through this five-year, $380 million contract.

Reserve Component Automation System'After inheriting the contract through an acquisition from Boeing Co., Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego has taken over the 12-year, $1.6 billion contract. More than 9,800 Army National Guard and Reserve units at more than 4,700 sites communicate and share resources across the RCAS WAN.

Wholesale Logistics Modernization Program'
Computer Sciences Corp. won a $681 million contract in December to take over the Army's logistics programs in Chambersburg, Pa., and St. Louis. The company has hired 218 government employees at the two locations and is replacing the service's applications with an enterprise resource planning system.

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