DIA will centralize IT management

DIA will centralize IT management

PHILADELPHIA--The Defense Intelligence Agency will soon control the IT spending of 10 unified combatant commands to achieve economies of scale and centralize the management and upkeep of defense information systems.

The move is part of a two-phased transformation. On Oct. 1, DIA will assume operational control and central management of IT at the commands. A year later, on Oct. 1, 2006, about 800 military and civilian workers across the military services will become DIA employees. They include system administrators, IT specialists and engineers.

Mark F. Greer, vice deputy director of information management and deputy CIO at DIA, said the move is analogous to building a world-class company. The commands will go about their main mission of warfighting while DIA handles IT operations with five globally dispersed help desks and enterprise software licenses. The commands currently run nine help desks.

Greer said the move will not thwart creativity, however. If a command unit has a process that works well and is scalable to all 10 commands, the process will likely remain where it is.

"It's not principally about efficiency in our minds, it's about effectiveness," Greer said yesterday during a panel discussion at the 2005 Defense Department Intelligence Information System Worldwide Conference here. "We're going to manage your IT assets using best business processes that we've learned from industry. There's no intent to centralize creativity. The more transparency we have, there's a better chance to leverage those capabilities across the enterprise."

Michael Pflueger, the intelligence agency's CIO, said his office would begin to narrow the commands' myriad IT operations and maintenance contracts. Pflueger's office will also look at ways to consolidate warehousing and storage services and will study various analytical tools and content tagging technologies.

"Our adversaries have a tremendous advantage over us," Pflueger said. "They are incredibly agile. We need to get our IT assets agile. We really don't individually run our pieces of the infrastructure very well. It can't be the end state." For example, one northeast regional service center was running 25 servers for Microsoft Exchange, and DIA got that number down to five servers in just the last two weeks.

"That's one of the problems of not being an enterprise," Pflueger said of the redundancy.

Some panelists voiced concern over the move. Army Brig. Gen. John Custer, director of intelligence at the U.S. Central Command, said employees there have two main concerns about the transition. First, Custer said, the implementation plan had not been laid out well. Second, some people are worried about their jobs.

"CENTCOM can't afford chaos, plain and simple," Custer said. "I'm concerned we can be a little bit aggressive. I'm happy DIA is making efficiencies, but we're fighting three wars."

Greer said no government civilian employee would be fired or forced out by the transition. But when someone retires DIA would decide whether to fill the vacancy or use the money in another area.

Pflueger said he and Greer will visit each of the 10 commands over the summer to explain the new process.

"Every single person needs to understand what this means," Greer added. "We will talk to people and ask what are the three to five things" that concern them.

DIA's Directorate for Information Management is seeking to transform the way analysts use and share information. DIA is also modernizing its desktop computers and moving to common e-mail, collaboration and storage systems on the Defense Department Intelligence Information System Trusted Workstation (DTW). Analysts use the workstation to access the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System, the global communications backbone used by all intelligence agencies for data and video. JWICS is the secret, encrypted element of the Global Information Grid.

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