Finger-pointing leads to Army IT portfolio plan

Tired of generals not taking responsibility for their systems, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker has ordered the service’s chief information officer, Lt. Gen. Steve Boutelle, to devise a servicewide governance strategy for information technology.

Due in 45 days, the plan will inventory all Army systems, place them in groups called domains or portfolios and assign people to manage them. Service and industry officials say it will finally give the Army what it’s been lacking in recent years: IT portfolio management.

“I got a mandate from the chief of staff of the Army to fix all the systems in the Army,” Boutelle said at last week’s Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems Industry Day.

Schoomaker wants Boutelle to put policies in place to support interoperability.

An industry official said the management problem has persisted for years. “In June 2003, former Army deputy CIO Dave Borland called for centralized IT governance,” the official said.

Borland confirmed that he and Peter Cuviello, formerly the Army’s CIO, pushed for IT portfolio management. “You can’t manage the money you get in if you don’t have a portfolio to make business decisions,” said Borland, who retired last year and now works as an IT consultant. “It is hard to make investments if you don’t have a portfolio.”

During spirited discussions the weekend of March 12, Schoomaker told Boutelle to improve the management and interoperability of Army systems. A problem with a logistics system in Iraq that weekend caused the Army’s top officer to take action to address technology issues.

Boutelle declined to discuss the incident. “This falls within the area of ongoing operational matters,” he said in a statement.

When devising the Army’s IT portfolio strategy, Boutelle said he will apply four principles that the new domain leaders should follow. They are:

* Is the system part of the Army’s IT repository?

* Is the system part of your enterprise?

* If a system is temporary, or will it become permanent?

* If it becomes permanent, has it undergone integration testing at the Central Technical Support Facility at Fort Hood, Texas?

Army officials must organize their systems into portfolios because the service cannot continue managing systems in the current manner, Boutelle said.

“The domain manager must manage his own enterprise and determine which programs belong in the enterprise,” he said in the statement.

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