Editorial

The decision by the Defense Information Systems Agency to move ahead with the systems integration contract on its next-generation network acquisition in spite of a protest is only the latest example of what critics charge is a pervasive Defense Department attitude. Many DOD officials really believe that their agency's needs and mission put them outside the rules that govern the rest of the government.

A couple of examples that support the argument are the agency's well-documented reluctance to follow the General Services Administration Board of Contract Appeals' directives in protests and the abortive attempt to insert language into a DOD authorization bill that would exempt DOD from large portions of the Information Technology Management Reform Act.

Recent procurement reform is based on the belief that if agencies are permitted to behave more like businesses, then government will perform more efficiently and cost less.

Another key element of the reform is management accountability. Agency officials are responsible for measuring the performance of their investments in information technology.

Apparently DOD officials just don't want to have to report to any civilian organization on their performance. Particularly not if it might have budget implications. DOD already exempts itself from many of the processes that other agencies go through in the budget creation process.

The management measures included in ITMRA are essential to the success of reform. DOD, despite its special needs, is part of the same IT world as the rest of the government. The sooner that old attitude dies, the sooner reform has a chance of making a difference.

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