Lawmakers plan to shave Defense IT authorization

Proposed cuts to requested funds

Distributed Common Ground Systems, $26m

Business Management Modernization Program, $53m

Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System, $10m

Defense Message System, $13m

Defense Technical Information Center, $8m

Information Technology Rapid Acquisition program, $5m

Base Level Communications Infrastructure and Combat Information Transport System, $135m

Future Combat Systems, $400m

Rep.Duncan Hunter

The Defense Department should prepare for a cut in IT funding for fiscal 2006. No matter if the House or Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act'or, most likely, some combination of both'becomes law, a number of high-profile technology programs will face reductions.

The House and Senate armed services committees passed their own versions of the National Defense Authorization Act earlier this month; both bills are headed to the floor of each chamber this week.

The House struck $253 million from DOD's $30 billion IT budget, while the Senate withheld full funding from specific programs.

The Senate committee earlier this month approved a $441.6 billion defense authorization bill for fiscal 2006'a $21 billion increase over the 2005 authorization. The committee said the full Senate would take up the bill this week, as well.

The committee has been 'steadily increasing the modernization budget, but it does little good to pump more money into these accounts if the cost of weapons systems are growing exponentially faster than what the federal treasury can possibly or reasonably provide for modernization,' said House committee chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) after lawmakers approved the legislation last week.

Rep. Jim Saxton (R-N.J.), chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities, which shepherded the IT budget through the process, said the reduction was less draconian than the billions in IT cuts it has previously imposed.

On the block

The IT cuts are targeted at programs including the Business Management Modernization Program, IT rapid acquisition and human resources systems, he said.

Over the last three years, the subcommittee has tried to better manage DOD's IT and weed out unnecessary costs, he said.

'The committee is taking a clear policy position intended to force a number of programs to be re-evaluated with a new set of metrics while rethinking how we design, develop and field next-generation systems,' Hunter added.

The uthorization bill includes a joint war-fighting science and technology plan.

According to a Democratic staff member, among the IT projects targeted for cuts in the House bill are:
  • Distributed Common Ground Systems. DCGS hopes to weave together more than two dozen systems for capturing and reviewing intelligence data that the services would then use to identify and hit enemy targets.

  • Business Management Modernization Program. Lawmakers have become in- creasingly frustrated by DOD's slow progress in modernizing its business systems. In April, high-ranking members of the Senate Armed Services Committee introduced a bill, S 780, to establish a DOD deputy secretary for management to solely manage the consolidation effort of more than 4,700 business systems.

  • Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System. DIMHRS has been touted as one of the world's largest HR systems. It will replace 88 legacy systems across the services with a single database for active and reserve units. Recently, the Marine Corps said it would hold off transitioning to DIMHRS until DOD could prove the system is superior to the Corps' HR system.

  • Defense Message System. DMS lets users sign messages with digital signatures and the software allows users to trace each step a message takes from sender to receiver. DMS replaces AUTODIN, the 50-year-old bulk messaging system through which users ship electronic memos.

The Senate was more generous in its version of the bill.

In the $21 billion increase over 2005, lawmakers allocated several increases for Defense's IT programs. Lawmakers earmarked:
  • $3.4 billion for the Army's Future Combat Systems

  • $10.9 billion for DOD's Science and Technology programs, including $50 million to develop and transition technology to the warfighter, such as unmanned systems

  • $5 billion for the Joint Strike Fighter program.

Not every IT initiative received increases, however. The Senate committee also proposed reducing the Army's Joint Tactical Radio System program by $308 million because of 'concerns over program execution.' Lawmakers cut $200 million from the Transformational Communications Satellite Program and $75 million from the Space Radar Program.

Members also included a provision to increase the number of acquisition personnel by 15 percent and require the Defense secretary to assess the current workforce and develop a human resources plan.

A second provision would prohibit DOD from spending funds on financial audits until it 'establishes a detailed, comprehensive plan to improve the department's financial management systems.'

GCN staff writers Dawn S. Onley and Jason Miller contributed to this story.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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