Stenbit explains DOD IT spending to lawmakers

'The real problem here is that IT is a buzzword for various' programs.

'John Stenbit

Henrik G. de Gyor

It's not always easy for Congress to oversee Defense Department systems buys because lawmakers sometimes are unsure which programs are part of the $28.7 billion military IT budget and which fall under other funding umbrellas.

So CIO John Stenbit is spelling it out for them'and, he said, helping DOD become more organized in the process. To clarify what systems go where, he has created a guide for Congress to use as it works through DOD's fiscal 2005 request.

The guide breaks down spending into four areas:
  • Business applications

  • Systems for warfighting and national security systems

  • Shared infrastructure and information assurance

  • Other technical activities.

In its 2005 proposal, DOD is asking for $14.8 billion for information assurance, $7.8 billion for warfighting and national security systems, $5 billion for business IT and $1.1 billion for other technical services. (See charts at end of this article.)

'The real problem here is that IT is a buzzword for various' programs, Stenbit said. The distinction in IT programs is 'bureaucratically important because we in the department treat the acquisition oversight differently in general, although there are exceptions.'

If he had his way, the proposed 2005 Defense IT budget would be just $5 billion and the remaining $23.7 billion would be seeded into other program accounts. Just because a project has an IT component does not mean the funding should come through the IT budget, he said.

Murky areas

The Clinger-Cohen Act provides a prescription for how agencies should oversee administrative systems projects, Stenbit said.

But managing the oversight of fire control software in a weapons system, which is clearly IT, is murkier, for example.

'It's communications, it's processing, it's storage, it's software, it's display,' but, Stenbit said, DOD brass does not think the principles underlying the Exhibit 300 business cases represent the best way to manage IT-driven weapons systems acquisitions.

He pointed out examples of the types of programs often lumped into the IT category but that don't really fit. For example, Stenbit said he doesn't consider the Joint Tactical Radio System'a program to build software-programmable radios that provide multichannel voice, data, imagery and video communications'an IT program.

To complicate matters, other programs that would seem to involve IT, such as the Transformational Satellite program, which 'is certainly an infrastructure,' don't fall under the IT budget at all, he said.

The Clinger-Cohen Act set guidelines for DOD and other agencies to follow regarding how they acquire, manage and use IT. The law's objective was to streamline acquisitions.

The law, which Stenbit said is designed to support business processes, 'is not an appropriate way to think about running the JTRS program.'

Fiscal 2005 Defense Budget Proposal, spending by category

(amounts in billions) 2003 2004 2005

Business applications
$5.36 $5.21 $5.03

Warfighting and national security systems
$6.38 $7.01 $7.78

Shared infrastructure and information assurance activities
$14.57 $15.05 $14.83

Other IT
$1.01 $0.96 $1.08

$27.33 $28.24 $28.72
Source: DOD CIO ' ' '

IT and National Security Systems Spending Breakdown by Service

(amounts in billions) 2003 2004 2005

$6.23 $5.51 $5.45

$5.59 $6.63 $6.59

Air Force
$5.25 $5.71 $6.40

$10.27 $10.40 $10.28

$27.33 $28.24 $28.72
Source: DOD CIO ' ' '


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