Intercepts

Leavin' on a jet plane?

The Defense Department's travel and purchase card system woes have been well documented, but officials at the General Accounting Office reported yet another potential flaw in the system last week that could cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

"A weak control environment and breakdowns of key controls over the centrally billed accounts led to millions of dollars wasted on unused airline tickets, reimbursements to travelers for improper and potentially fraudulent airline ticket claims, and issuance of airline tickets based on invalid travel orders," according to a June 9 GAO report.

The problem, agency officials found, is that the systems used for purchasing and issuing tickets are not integrated, so DOD officials cannot track whether people are using the tickets they buy or requesting a refund for those they don't.

And we aren't talking about a few hundred tickets. GAO estimates that 58,000 tickets worth $21 million went unused in 2001 and 2002, money that department officials have not yet recovered.

Precision-guided DARPA

Officials at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Advanced Technology Office are looking to turn one of the oldest munitions in modern warfare into a technological addition to the United States'

precision-guided arsenal.

Artillery specialists have used the mortar as a weapon in war for centuries. To accurately fire a round, they had to account for wind, elevation, air temperature and humidity. A recent solicitation by DARPA is looking to eliminate the guesswork of precisely firing a mortar round.

An official request for proposals for the system, known as the Optically Designated Attack Munitions, is due June 21. Good news for the troops: They can put away their slide rules and azimuths.

ASCP to AeSCP?

The Army enterprise Solutions & Computer Products may become the new name for the Army Small Computer Program (ASCP).

The name better represents the hardware, software, information technology services and performance-based contracting work the organization performs, ASCP officials said.

Meanwhile, Michelina LaForgia will take over as ASCP assistant project manager in late June or early July. The attorney beat out 40 people for the position.

More IT jargon

Military IT officials now use the term "cost avoidance" instead of cost savings.

With the military's transformation and war on terrorism, they say the term "cost savings" could lead DOD and service officials to spend savings to fund the efforts.

Attorneys involved

Army and DOD officials will comb through contracting documents to determine the best way to speed up the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical program.

Service officials awarded contracts to General Dynamics Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. in August 2002 to develop an architecture for the program, which will provide high-speed communications for soldiers on the battlefield. They believe they have spent enough time on the job and are anxious to move ahead.

In fact, the Army has already started equipping soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan with some of the new land, air and space communications technologies, said Army Lt. Gen. Steve Boutelle, the service's chief information officer.

Members of the 3rd Infantry Division are training with some of the new communications gear before they go back to Iraq later this summer.

Army IT rule

Army officials want to drive more business through ASCP, and they don't fear competition.

Starting July 1, Army IT managers must go through ASCP to buy IT items worth $25,000 or more.

The program will give Army IT managers the best price. If they find a lower price from vendors, program officials will allow the managers to make the purchase. They will then figure out how vendors undercut the program, said Col. Tom Hogan, program manager for enterprise infostructure in the Program Executive Office-Enterprise Information Systems.

Linux license

The Defense Information Systems Agency signed an agreement last month with Red Hat Inc. for the company's Linux software.

The Enterprise Software Initiative contract will save military customers 10 percent to 48 percent compared to the commercial price, depending on volume.

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