Defense to update Congress on business process management progress

More than 20,000 people descended on the Washington Convention Center for the 30th edition of the FOSE trade show to see the latest and greatest wireless gadgets, servers, storage arrays and other IT devices.

The Defense Department will present an updated plan to Congress next week outlining how it has fared since last September in meeting the milestones laid out to transform its business processes.

Thomas Modly, deputy undersecretary of Defense for financial management, said the department's Business Transformation Agency met 92 percent of the milestones. Modly said he was pleased with the results, but added that the BTA still had its work cut out in meeting future milestones, including a plan to re-evaluate the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System and come up with new baselines for that program.

It is not the department's much-ballyhooed past goal of achieving a clean audit by 2007 that is driving business systems transformation, according to Paul Brinkley, deputy undersecretary of Defense for business transformation. Nor is the need to pare down more than 4,700 business systems solely pushing this departmentwide effort.

Interoperable business systems will ultimately improve the department's support to the warfighter and push a culture of continuous business process improvement, Brinkley said. "We are establishing a significant amount of momentum," he added.

"Every six months over the next 10 years, things will get better," said Brinkley. "I don't think this stuff ever ends. We continue to improve."

Brinkley and Modly were luncheon speakers today at the FOSE trade show sponsored by PostNewsweek Tech Media, the parent company of GCN.

The department is spending $4.2 billion a year on business systems, Modly said. The aim is to get a better accounting of the systems and programs that are receiving the money and to ensure that those systems are interoperable with the business enterprise architecture the department is building.

In September, DOD unveiled Version 3.0 of its business enterprise architecture in compliance with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2005. The BEA included the department's first transition plan for six Defense agencies: the departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force, the Defense Logistics Agency, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, and the Transportation Command. The plan also outlined a new process for senior Defense officials to evaluate IT systems for compliance with the architecture and includes a plan to centralize funding for DOD-level systems.

In addition to turning in the transition plan and BEA, DOD also established the Business Transformation Agency last fall to centrally manage 18 of its largest departmentwide business programs.

For years, DOD's business systems have faced intense scrutiny from the Government Accountability Office. Last October, Congress upped the ante when it said Defense leaders could be held in violation of Title 31 of the Antideficiency Act and face jail time and fines if they fail to review all business projects worth more than $1 million to make sure agency initiatives are aligned with the BEA.

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