Army shifting from targeted system apps

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The biggest challenge blocking the Army's goal of knowledge management is e-government, the service's principal director for enterprise integration said today.

Gary Winkler, who sat on a morning panel during the 2004 Directorates of Information Management/Army Knowledge Management conference, said too many users are developing software applications to suit a very small mission area instead of thinking enterprisewide when building systems.

After the panel discussion, Winkler explained that the mission applications are often stovepiped and that they don't fit into the Army's larger plan of transforming processes to support an enterprise network.

"We're migrating away from those small, targeted, specific apps that don't talk to anything else," Winkler said.

At one time, he said, 'developing an app was the hard part. Now it's really easy to stand up an app to target any one particular problem. We're focusing on the architecture throughout the enterprise."

The Army is getting its enterprise architecture word out in two ways.

First, Army CIO Lt. Gen. Steven Boutelle has a Strategic Partnering Division made up of government, military and contractors who go out to the various directorates (like personnel, training, intelligence, and logistics) to make sure they are developing applications at the enterprise level. The message the division is bringing is that systems need to be developed in a joint fashion and must tie into the Defense Department's business enterprise architecture.

Eventually, programs built in a stovepiped way will face budget cuts, Winkler said.

Second, Boutelle sits on the Army CIO Executive Board, composed of 49 flag officer-level representatives across the organization, which meets quarterly to discuss issues and challenges to achieving an enterprise network. Boutelle also sits on the Office of the Secretary of Defense's CIO Executive Board and reports on the Army's progress.

Vernon Bettencourt, Army deputy CIO, said the Army also plans to look at business cases for wireless solutions at each of its major installations and will examine whether it makes sense to lease some of the capabilities for the enterprise network.

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