AKO might not be model for DKO

Editor's note: This story was updated Aug. 24, 2006, to correct Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Croom's first name.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Defense Knowledge Online, the enterprise portal of the future, may not be wholly based on the Army Knowledge Online portal, as was widely expected. Facing opposition and competition from the other services, the Defense Department is taking a hard look before deciding how to move forward with the program.

DKO is DOD’s effort to provide an Internet-based entry point for all qualified department users to access all information on DOD networks.

In April, Army Lt. Gen. Steven Boutelle, chief information officer, told a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee that “senior Army and Defense leaders have identified an opportunity for synergy and agreed to develop the Defense Knowledge Online based on the Army's IT portal.”

The AKO portal currently serves 1.85 million users and is the most comprehensive enterprise portal in use today.

But there’s another option, Lt. Col. Skip Harborth, chief of future operations for AKO, told attendees at the Army’s LandWarNet Conference here. Harborth is also the Army’s program manager for DKO.

The alternative to adapting AKO into DKO is to build a small portal, independent of AKO, and build capabilities around it, Harborth said.

The Defense Information Systems Agency’s team leader for DKO, Dana Swedish, confirmed that the portal’s future is not determined. “We’re looking at other options besides just adopting AKO and AKO applications,” she said. “We’re looking at other portals.”

DKO intended to follow the Army’s model, but other services began to advocate the use of their solutions, Swedish said. Although other portals are not as widely used, they have capabilities in areas such as content management or security that might be preferable to their AKO counterparts.

One main issue is the use of service-oriented architecture, which most experts agree is preferable. Currently, AKO is not based on such architecture. The Air Force enterprise portal is already on a SOA foundation.

Integration problems are common anytime a program attempts to join efforts from different services, Swedish said. “There’s a lot of people not wanting to give up what they have today,” she added.

The deployment of DKO is being delayed as a result. “We tried to be fair, and being fair, we lost a lot of speed.” Swedish said.

The DKO Board of Directors will ultimately decide the path. The board is led by Boutelle and Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Croom, director of DISA, both of whom have expressed praise for the AKO model. Their next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 7.

DKO is not a program of record in DOD and therefore has no appropriated funding and no acquisition authorities. It operates under a general agreement between Boutelle and Croom, using AKO money. Lockheed Martin holds the $152 million AKO Enterprise Services contract, awarded last summer.

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