Congress OKs Defense spending'with IT caveats

What's in the 2005 Defense authorization bill

$4.3 billion for Navy and Air Force development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Navy had asked for $126 million more than Congress OK'd and the Air Force for $134 million more. The program has experienced significant problems, including software integration difficulties.

$2.9 billion for the Army's Future Combat Systems program, which will connect 18 manned and unmanned vehicles on a common network. This decreases the president's earmark by $270 million.

$1.5 billion to continue development of the high-tech DD(X) surface combatant ships, $40 million more than the Navy requested

$75 million for space-based radar, a proposal that would slash funding by more than $240 million

$60.2 million for the Combating Terrorism Technology Support Program, which looks at technologies that may help combat terrorism

$40 million to procure 2,241 movement tracking systems. MTSes are satellite-based communications systems being used in Iraq to give troops real-time vehicle tracking and two-way text messaging.

Congress has given the Defense Department the nod to spend nearly half a trillion dollars next year, but it has put some restrictions on money used for technology projects.

Lawmakers will require military brass to provide details and justification of several major technology projects as part of the $445.6 billion DOD authorization bill.

Starting Jan. 1, no more than $1 million will go to a Defense business system modernization program unless the system complies with the department's business enterprise architecture. Lawmakers mandated that each business systems program office show the recently established Defense Business Systems Management Committee that their system will follow DOD acquisition regulations.

In addition, lawmakers set a Sept. 30 deadline for the Defense secretary to develop an enterprise architecture for all business systems as well as a plan to implement the architecture. The bill also includes a March 31 deadline for submitting to congressional Defense committees a plan for the transition to IP Version 6 and establishing a rapid acquisition process.

'Congress is flexing its muscle,' said Ray Bjorklund, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer at FSI of McLean, Va. 'Defense has always reported to Congress on a lot of major systems. What's a little unusual here is that Congress is getting into a specific kind of technology, for example IPv6, and telling them, 'You've got to tell me how you're going to do it.' '

Bjorklund said lawmakers want to keep a close watch on progress because some programs, such DOD's Business Systems Modernization, are not performing as well as expected.

DOD has said it will move to IPv6 by late 2007. Congress wants to know by early next year how the military plans to convert systems from the current IP Version 4. Congress has ordered DOD brass to provide an implementation schedule and cost of any new networking and security equipment needed for the IP upgrade.

DOD must also detail how networks and security systems will be managed, and submit test results showing how the new protocol fares on the department's networks.

'A lesson learned from the ongoing global war on terrorism is that DOD's current acquisition system cannot respond in a timely manner to urgent requests for combat equipment by commanders in the battlefield,' the bill noted. 'The goal of the rapid acquisition process is that the time from a combatant commander's request to contract award shall be no more than 15 days.' To that end, Congress approved a plan to let the secretary of Defense waive some procurement requirements.

Lawmakers also told the Defense secretary to set up a joint program office to improve the interoperability of battlefield management command and control systems.


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