Strategic change: Army means business

Strategic change: Army means business

'Right now we have many enterprises. We're getting everyone to understand there's only one enterprise, and that's called the Army.'

The largest and oldest military service branch is beginning to resemble a business, and Army Lt. Gen. Peter Cuviello says he thinks this is a good thing.

Much like a corporation, the majority of the Army's budget'60 percent'goes for salaries, business programs and systems, said Cuviello, the service's CIO. The remaining 40 percent goes to warfighting and weaponry.

Like most businesses, the best way for the Army to run, Cuviello said, is as one enterprise. Army officials are getting rid of the disparate systems that don't speak to one another as part of an expansive transformation.

The Army is adapting to an environment where 'everything is on the Web,' Cuviello said, 'instead of client-server, which is what we're used to.'

Through this transformation, the Army plans to beef up its network to handle 1.5 million military and civilian users. By consolidating its IT infrastructure, the service expects to cut costs and improve its operations both on and off the battlefield.

Can't beat 'em,

To function like a business, the Army is turning to the private sector for guidance. The Army recently received 65 responses from IT vendors to a request for information about the architecture the service will need to consolidate its command and control systems. It also sought feedback from industry on whether to issue a single request for proposals for the project, put out multiple requests or negotiate blanket purchasing agreements.

Cuviello said the Army is reviewing the feedback and will decide which way to proceed by late spring. The service plans to finish its enterprisewide systems realignment by next October, he said.

A key component of the transformation is the agency's enterprise e-mail portal, Army Knowledge Online. Each of the 1.2 million uniformed personnel is under orders to get an account on the portal.

'A lot of good things are going on,' Cuviello said recently at a luncheon held by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

'We are going to manage the infrastructure as an enterprise.'

The Army has also reorganized its headquarters. The assistant secretary for acquisitions, logistics and technology is now responsible for command, control, communications and computer acquisitions. That had been the Army Materiel Command's responsibility.

So join them

The Army is centralizing systems management at about two dozen major commands under Cuviello's office.

The service has begun consolidating IT systems in Washington, D.C., into a servicewide enterprise. The district includes installations from Virginia to New York.

To ready for its transformation effort, an Army executive CIO board has been visiting several commands to discuss the best ways to conduct operations, Cuviello said.

'Right now we have many enterprises. We're getting everyone to understand there's only one enterprise, and that's called the Army,' he said. There won't be any 'islands of enterprises out there. The Army realized we really have to maintain from the top to the bottom.'

He said the Army has learned by watching the Navy roll out the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet.

NMCI is an enterprisewide, managed system for voice, video and data communications that will merge 200 networks into one Navy intranet, linking more than 360,000 desktop PCs. The Navy chose Electronic Data Systems Corp. for the $7 billion outsourcing job.

'Industry did a lot of comparisons for us on what NMCI is doing and what we could adapt,' Cuviello said. 'When I think about it, the day that contract was signed, the Navy had configuration control. We're still trying to get to that point.'


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