Army plan requires 'ruthless configuration management'

The leaders of the Army's nine warfighting and business mission areas must prove that programs within their domains are interoperable or those programs will be cut, according to an upcoming operations plan.

At presstime, Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey was expected to soon sign off on the plan, which also would fold technical control of the Central Technical Support Facility, based at Fort Hood, Texas, into the CIO's office. The facility will be the site where the programs are tested for interoperability.

The CIO's office will take a lead role in overseeing the evaluation of programs that fall into the warfighting and business domains.

'My primary concern is interoperability. Second of all is the total cost of ownership,' said Lt. Gen. Steven Boutelle, Army CIO. Boutelle spoke last week at Army IT Day, sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's Northern Virginia chapter. 'The operations plan defines how we're going to do this.'

The document requires the nine domain leaders in the Army, representing areas such as logistics, intelligence, finance and acquisition, to perform an exhaustive study of what systems they hold in their infrastructures, report whether their systems are programs of record and submit them for interoperability testing at the CTSF.

Boutelle said the outcome of the studies will largely determine which programs the Army keeps and which it will toss.

For mission-critical systems that were developed for unique warfighting missions and are disparate by nature, there is a sunset clause in the operations plan that will ask domain owners to phase the apps out.

The Central Technical Support Facility is charged with rapidly developing, fielding and supporting leading-edge, secure and interoperable tactical, theater, and strategic com- mand, control and communications systems. The facility offers systems integration testing, configuration management and field engineering to Army units.

Although the Joint Interoperability Test Command tests Army systems to ensure interoperability with other military service systems, CTSF is charged with intra-interoperability testing, Boutelle said, to see if Army systems are talking to each other.

Boutelle said the domain leaders will have to answer extensive questions about each system, such as the program's mission, what software it is using and whether it connects to other domain systems.

'This will be very onerous. It will be very difficult. We need to make sure we accommodate the warfighters while we're doing it,' Boutelle said, calling the facility's upcoming work with the domain leaders 'ruthless configuration management.'

'Once you perform configuration management, you know what you've got. This is what the entire joint community needs to do,' he added.

The portfolio management focus from the Office of the Secretary of Defense is driving the Army's move to interoperable domains, Boutelle said.

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