DOD slated for scant raise over 2001 budget

DOD slated for scant raise over 2001 budget


President Bush's fiscal 2002 budget proposal of $310.5 billion for the Defense Department takes a wait-and-see attitude, offering minimal increases over last year's budget until DOD completes a strategic review.

Meanwhile, Defense agencies and the services continue to struggle with an array of information technology headaches, from systems modernization setbacks and work force shortages to security weaknesses and cost overruns.

Although the 2002 budget is far from a done deal, DOD chief information officer Arthur Money said, each year the department's IT programs lack the funds to remain current and competitive.

Balancing act slows IT

'In general, the information technology area and information assurance area don't get as much play from the services ... as I would like,' Money said. 'It's a balancing act between a ship, an airplane, a tank or a new vehicle in the Army vs. this kind of stuff. So I think information technology has gone slower because of that.' Money will leave DOD next month (see story, Page 7).

DOD acquisition practices are inefficient, Marine Gen. James L. Jones says.

Before committing to more funding, Bush has asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to define a mission for the department in the 21st century.
Military officials have said they need a budget increase of more than $50 billion a year to modernize forces. The Bush 2002 plan comes in at $14.2 billion over this fiscal year.

The administration has touted the need for an up-to-date infrastructure that can wage traditional and information warfare.
But Rumsfeld and another high-ranking military official said they understand the president's cautious stance'even calling it responsible management.

No one can disagree with Bush's call for a review, especially in light of DOD's urgent need for business and acquisition practice reforms, said Gen. James L. Jones, the Marine Corps' commandant, at a recent lunch meeting in Washington.

'There's an inability to produce things quickly ... or economically,' Jones said. 'I'm so discouraged in getting involved in the acquisition process because it's so stove-piped. We have to ask ourselves, 'Are we trusting people to do the right thing?' '

The burden of proof is on the services' shoulders, he said.

At a recent Pentagon press briefing, Rumsfeld also backed the president's plan: 'He preferred to follow through on things he mentioned during the campaign that he believed needed to be looked at. It seems to me a perfectly responsible thing to do.'

Bush has asked Rumsfeld to review:

Military strategy to determine needs for an updated national security approach

War deterrence requirements

Quality of life for military personnel.

Bush is open to amending the 2002 DOD budget, but he wants to 'engage the brains before the taxpayers' pocketbooks,' Rumsfeld said.

The president's proposal would allocate an additional $1.4 billion toward military pay and allowances. Another $400 million would help improve the quality of housing or reduce out-of-pocket housing expenses for military personnel and their families.

Recruiting and retaining qualified personnel, especially for information technology positions, has been a challenge for the military, as well as civilian agencies. Lucrative private-sector IT jobs have lured troops away from military service.

The budget also proposes spending $2.6 billion on new technology R&D, which could cover weapons and intelligence systems, improvements to Defense laboratories and testing facilities, and funding for the missile defense system.

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