By Amber Corrin
Army Lt. Gen. Carroll Pollett officially stepped down as director of the Defense Information Systems Agency in a change-of-command ceremony held Jan. 11 at Ft. Meade, Md., where the agency is headquartered.
Taking over DISA’s reins is Air Force Maj. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins.
Pollett has served as the leader of DISA since 2008, and is retiring after a 37-year Defense Department career.
“Every part of DISA has an essential role in the accomplishments and support we have provided the Warfighter over the past three years. Our partners throughout the department, elsewhere in the government, foreign and domestic, and in industry have had critical roles as well,” Pollett said. “I want to thank them for their continued service to their country, and for the hard work they do every day.”
Hawkins returns to DISA after a brief stint at the Pentagon as the Joint Staff's deputy director, command, control, communications and computer systems, a role he has filled since July. Before his Joint Staff assignment, Hawkins was DISA's vice director under Pollett.
“I am honored to assume the directorship of DISA and to continue our critical support to joint warfighters, national level leadership, and mission and coalition partners, providing joint and combined warfighting information technology capabilities,” Hawkins said in a statement.
Posted on Jan 11, 2012 at 3:11 PM0 comments
The Defense Department over the past week has released reminders of ethical behavior for DOD personnel, both civilian and uniformed, with special emphasis on political activity as the election year gets into full swing – and after an incident in Iowa involving a very eager Ron Paul supporter who happened to be in military uniform.
It seems DOD officials want to make sure the guidelines are well understood, particularly in light of the Iowa incident, which took place on Jan. 3, the night of the Iowa caucuses, and involved an Army reservist who publicly spoke at a Ron Paul rally and endorsed that candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.
CPL Jesse Thorsen was not in an active status at the time, but could face disciplinary action, according to a DOD release as well as a local news report that contains video of the incident.
It’s not that DOD brass forbids political activity – in fact, civic involvement is encouraged, the release noted. But there are rules as to how political engagement can take place, and they differ between military members, civilian personnel and Senior Executive Service members.
Service members are allowed to attend political gatherings and rallies as spectators but cannot do so wearing a uniform, they are not allowed to make public political speeches, officially serve on partisan groups or participate in partisan campaigns or events. No political engagement of any kind is allowed while they are in uniform.
Civilian DOD employees’ political activity is governed by the Hatch Act, which applies to all employees of the executive branch except for the president and vice president. Those falling in this category are allowed to be active in political groups and speak at political gatherings. They can serve as officers of partisan groups, but they cannot be involved in fundraising.
Members of the Senior Executive Service come under special rules that depend on certain activities and length of an SES career.
Beyond the political ethics refresher, the DOD Office of General Counsel Standards of Conduct Office released some general housekeeping on Jan. 6, covering issues such as the continuing pay freeze, financial disclosure and key related deadlines (Feb. 15 for confidential, May 15 for public) and a reminder to file those training plans. That release also includes some notes on gifts and more on charitable fundraising.
A lot to keep track of, no?
Posted on Jan 10, 2012 at 12:44 PM1 comments
The warnings were dire and came from the highest echelons of the government and Defense Department well before the Congressional super committee failed to identify $1.2 trillion in federal budget savings by 2021. The impact of sequestration on DOD is hanging over the Pentagon like a dark cloud, the “devastating doomsday scenario” predicted by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta now a reality.
Or is it?
Sequestration’s threat went something like this: If the super committee failed to act by Nov. 23, it would trigger automatic cuts equaling the aforementioned $1.2 trillion across the federal budget. The cuts would be split equally between defense spending and non-defense spending, effective Jan. 2, 2013. For DOD, this means about $600 billion in budget cuts over the next 10 years.
It’s a bit of an exercise in fuzzy math, but according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, that would mean:
The major cuts to the budget lower the government’s interest payments considerably, so in reality that $600 billion is more like $492 billion from 2013 to 2021, divided into about $55 billion per year. Combine that with $450 billion in cuts from the Budget Control Act – the debt ceiling deal from August that established the super committee to begin with – and another $39 billion in cuts ordered by the White House, and DOD is looking at a total reduction in spending of about $980 billion over the next 10 years, beginning with the 2013 budget.
“While this is certainly a lot of money, it represents approximately a 15 percent reduction below the baseline 10-year budget provided by the Congressional Budget Office,” David Berteau, president and director of the International Security Program at CSIS, and Ryan Crotty, a research associate with the CSIS Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group, wrote in a Dec. 2 analysis piece. “Despite the outcry from the Pentagon, the total level of these cuts is less than catastrophic. Even under sequestration, the DOD budget in 2013 would be approximately equal to the base budget in 2007 (adjusted for inflation) and well above the low points of defense spending in the late 1990s.”
The current cuts are also well below historical post-war spending decreases – such as those following the Korean and Vietnam wars – something Larry Korb at the Center for American Progress pointed out in September and was echoed in the CSIS report.
Then there’s the possibility that sequestration might not even happen. For one, by the time it would take effect, the U.S. could have new Congress members and even a new president, and the entire law could be avoided wholesale by simply repealing it. And since the legislation still has more than a year to until implementation, Congress, theoretically, has time to come up with a better idea.
Those are possibilities, but far from certainties.
“DOD will begin taking actions in advance of the deadline, perhaps as early as next June or July. Congress is unlikely to act to change sequestration by that time. In addition, President Obama has said, ‘I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending,’” the CSIS report stated.
So what now?
Berteau and Crotty predict that Congress will revisit previous deficit plans, including those proposed by the Bowles-Simpson commission last year and the Senate’s Gang of Six. And the Pentagon is already undergoing efforts to streamline and trim its budget, having been ordered to do so more than a year ago by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
But for DOD, the biggest impact right now is the uncertainty, and so much hinges on what remains to be seen.
“For DOD, uncertainty means not being able to construct the Future Years Defense Program, which outlines the budget for the next five years and charts a course for the military’s future. Without a realistic FYDP, DOD cannot manage itself as effectively,” Berteau and Crotty wrote. “As the debate on sequestration moves forward, it will be in parallel with congressional action on DOD’s fiscal 2013 budget request, a proposal that will not include sequestration. We will learn more by watching this dual process as it plays out next year.”
Posted on Dec 02, 2011 at 1:22 PM1 comments