BTA sets standards for transformation

Defense agency says it must move quickly to prove its value to DOD business operations

Business Enterprise Architecture & Enterprise Transition Plan

One year after its formation, the Defense Department’s Business Transformation Agency (BTA) is eager to prove that it can produce results. DOD created the agency in October 2005 to coordinate departmentwide business system modernization efforts.

Demonstrating results will be easier in 2007 as BTA integrates common data standards into its activities, said Paul Brinkley, deputy undersecretary of Defense for business transformation. For example, the agency expects to speed its adoption of industry data standards for supply chain transactions, which will give DOD greater control of its materiel management activities, he said.

The goal is to create a business culture that resembles the private sector’s, Brinkley said.

The agency achieved more than 80 percent of the milestones in its 2005 enterprise transition plan, said Thomas Modly, deputy undersecretary of Defense for financial management. BTA officials want to build on those results and add projects and responsibilities in fiscal 2007, Modly said during a recent briefing on the agency’s new business enterprise architecture and enterprise transition plans for DOD.

Those plans describe the department’s approach to business transformation and define the priorities that DOD will use to manage major information systems and transform human resources, materiel supply, property management, weapons system development and financial management programs.

The agency issued its first enterprise transition plan in September 2005 and delivered an interim report to Congress in March. The fiscal 2007 plan moves some projects forward and brings others under the BTA umbrella. In 2007, the agency will oversee implementation of the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System (DIMHRS), a personnel and pay system for all the military services.

DIMHRS’ status was uncertain last year, Modly said. But after completing an assessment of the program, DOD decided it will implement the system in the Army and Air Force by 2008, he said.

The agency expects to begin using business value-added measures to track its progress on the transformation initiatives. Officials hope to bring DOD in line with private-sector standards of financial awareness by spring 2007.

“For the first time ever, the department will have high-level visibility into what’s happening with the financial information,” Modly said.

A new project in the agency’s expanded portfolio is the Federal Voting Assistance Program, which enables deployed warfighters to vote in U.S. elections. Agency leaders are eager to demonstrate that they can accomplish their goals by accepting such high-visibility projects, Modly said. “When we have an opportunity to prove our mettle like that, we’re not going to shy away from it.”

The agency was asked in June to help improve contracting and stabilization operations in Iraq, so it plans to develop recommendations and plans for new contracting policies and procedures.

Transformation leaders said DOD users will see only minimal changes in business enterprise architecture requirements in 2007. The Business Enterprise Architecture Version 4.0 document closely resembles last year’s version, Modly said. With only a few changes, DOD components will have time to comply with the existing structure and minimize complexity, he said.

The agency expects to begin releasing its architecture updates annually rather than twice a year so components can more easily keep pace with the changes. “You have to give these programs the time to understand and to catch up with what it is you’re imposing on them,” Modly said.

Independent analysts such as Input give the agency credit for its progress in streamlining DOD’s business processes. But Input reported in August that many DOD components perceive BTA to be disorganized and struggling to define itself. Its success, according to the Input report, will depend on its ability to gain support from DOD components while maintaining its momentum from the previous year.

The agency must do that while receiving less funding. The fiscal 2007 Defense Appropriations bill, passed in September, cut the BTA budget by $28 million, from a $179 million request to $151 million.

DOD programs in the transformation pipelineThe Defense Department’s Business Transformation Agency has assumed responsibility for 18 major DOD programs and activities that have extensive information technology components, including these four.

  • The Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System, a fully integrated personnel and pay system for the Army and Air Force.

  • The Defense Travel System, an automated Web-based system for managing all aspects of official travel.

  • DOD’s EMall, an e-procurement portal that is the single entry point for people buying commercial and government products online.

  • The Federal Integrated Acquisition Environment, a secure business environment for government and industry that facilitates the acquisition of goods and services.
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