Defense provides new business modernization plan to Congress

DOD's Michael Wynne says the department far exceeds in size corporations such as IBM and Ford that have spent years integrating systems under a single architecture.

Henrik G. de Gryor

The Pentagon's top acquisition authority has a plan to get the Defense Department's business systems modernization back on track.

Michael Wynne, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, submitted a detailed strategy to the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee detailing how the Defense Department is modernizing and transforming its administrative systems.

Lawmakers, frustrated by the department's slow progress in modernizing its business systems, last year threatened fines and possible imprisonment for the comptroller if the department continued to sign off on systems that do not comply with DOD's business architecture. Defense has since shifted the oversight of modernization to Wynne's office.

In the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2005, Congress ordered the department to submit an annual progress report.

Wynne submitted a 13-page document last month to Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, detailing a new governance structure for the Business Management Modernization Program. The plan outlines an aggressive timeline for delivering key aspects of the program.

For years, lawmakers working on Defense budgets have demanded that DOD shape up its business systems by developing interoperable applications that do not duplicate existing systems.

Under the authorization act, lawmakers mandated that Defense impose funding cuts on programs that do not comply with the business enterprise architecture.

If the department authorizes funding of $1 million or more for any noncompliant system, Wynne could be found guilty of violating Title 31 of the Antideficiency Act and receive hefty fines and even imprisonment, beginning Oct. 1, Congress said.

The Antideficiency Act makes it illegal for government agencies to use funds for projects outside authorized purposes. To date, the department has spent approximately $300 million on the BMMP effort, Pentagon officials said. The total budget for DOD to operate, maintain and modernize its business systems is $5.2 billion for fiscal 2005.

In his letter to Warner, Wynne said the job of building a business enterprise architecture, with which thousands of systems will have to comply, is far from easy.

'Large corporations such as IBM, General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Oracle and others have been actively engaged in business transformation over extended periods of time. IBM, for example, is still transforming its business operations more than 10 years after it first began,' Wynne wrote. 'This protracted length of time suggests that even the most respected, technologically driven companies achieve business transformation through a series of interim accomplishments.'

DOD is establishing data standards to improve system interoperability. To this end, the program has published an initial Standard Financial Information Structure for the coding of financial data.

Officials are using BMMP to control investments in business applications through the newly created Defense Business Systems Management Committee.

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