Committee: Cut jobs, raise salaries

Committee: Cut jobs, raise salaries

Former deputy CIO Paul Brubaker says the committee's idea to cut the Marines out of NMCI is 'utter nonsense.'

Thousands of Pentagon acquisition workers could lose their jobs if a provision passed by a key House committee is approved by Congress this fall.

In the sweeping legislative document accompanying the fiscal 2002 Defense authorization bill, the House Armed Services Committee called for 13,000 acquisition jobs to be slashed. The recommendation makes the committee's focus clear: Increase pay and quality of life for uniformed employees by downsizing the technical civilian work force.

The measure is in the document's executive summary under the heading, 'Eliminating Waste and Reforming DOD's Organization and Business Practices.' It is one of many information technology recommendations the committee voted on this month.

Despite congressional efforts to reform the Defense Department's acquisition process, the report said, expenditures are still high and more flexibility is needed for supplying combat mission areas. The committee wants DOD to reduce its acquisition work force by 13,000 positions in fiscal 2002.

There are roughly 120,000 systems engineers, program analysts and contract officers in DOD. A decade ago, there were more than 300,000.

Twenty years ago

Although the committee voted to reduce jobs, it also favored a $33 billion pay raise for military personnel and called for millions of dollars in construction improvements to military housing and offices. If approved, the pay increase would be the largest since 1982.

The committee made several other recommendations:

  • Cut the Marine Corps out of the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet and slash 2002 funding for the project by $120 million. The committee slammed NMCI's 'lengthy program delays' and questioned the Navy's funding and budget strategies [GCN, Aug. 13, Page 17].

  • Establish an Office of Transformation in DOD to identify concepts and technologies for meeting the military's future needs.

  • Allocate $113 million for technological components of the Missile Defense program.

  • Require DOD to include an electronic copy with all reports it submits to Congress.

  • Encourage the armed forces to use technology more efficiently. The committee proposed several ways to increase IT efficiency, such as reviewing science and technology programs to ensure that military research efforts do not duplicate work in the commercial sector.

    It also recommended that the Air Force develop a reprogrammable, commercial system for signals intelligence based on an open architecture. The system should be nonproprietary and upgradable through changes in software rather than hardware, the committee said.

    By far, the most controversial recommendations are the NMCI proposal and the acquisition work force cuts, which one Defense expert described as a potential brain drain on the government.

    Paul Brubaker, former Defense deputy chief information officer and president of electronic government systems at Commerce One Inc. of Pleasanton, Calif., said the committee's NMCI proposal would have drastic ramifications if approved.

    'This is utter nonsense,' Brubaker said. 'They ought to let the Navy run it and get out of the way. Here's a program which actually has a good chance of succeeding if they would just leave it alone.'

    Through NMCI, the Navy plans to integrate voice, video and data communications by consolidating 200 networks into one intranet linking more than 360,000 desktop PCs.
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