Cohen plan splits C3 & intelligence

Six months after a major review of Defense Department operations Secretary of Defense William Cohen last week announced a sweeping reform of DOD that will dramatically alter how the department manages information technology as well as bolster major Defense IT initiatives. While the Quadrennial Defense Review released in May analyzed the structure of Defense forces the Defense Reform Initiative focused on streamlining the Office of the Secretary of Defense supply- and service-oriented Defense agencies and similar DOD field and related organizations and freeing up money for much-needed force modernization.

Among other changes the reform will strip away the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command Control Communications and Intelligence splitting up its functions between two other organizations and tapping the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and technology (USD A&T) as the chief information officer. That position recently was filled by Jacques Gansler who was confirmed on Nov. 5.

The initiative also calls for DOD to consolidate automate or outsource altogether a broad range of other functions slashing manpower across DOD headquarters and support organizations by more than 31 000 people or 22 percent.

In turn the department will undergo what Cohen called a "fundamental reform in how the Defense Department conducts business " including the development of "paper-free" systems for buying major weapons systems weapons support and logistics.

In his introduction to the plan Cohen cited the need for a "focused modernization effort" that will position the department to respond to emerging and future security threats even as it continues to respond to crises across the globe. "This balance can be achieved only if resources are reallocated from overhead and support activities to our fighting forces " Cohen wrote.

Questions Remain

While supporting Cohen's goals DOD observers sharply questioned many aspects of the reform initiative.

In particular ex-DOD officials questioned Cohen's decision to transfer ASD C3I's intelligence functions into a new ASD intelligence office while transferring C3 and information management into the A&T organization under Anthony Valletta now deputy CIO and deputy USD A&T. Valletta will manage those functions as part of a new office called C3 Systems.

According to the plan "This initiative provides a more effective organizational arrangement for the execution of OSD intelligence and C3 functions. In addition it strengthens and enhances the chief information officer function by assigning it to the USD [A&T]."

However some former DOD officials disagreed. Duane Andrews a former ASD/C3I from the Bush administration and now senior vice president of Science Applications International Corp. said he found it "regrettable" that Cohen decided to split intelligence off because DOD "needs to integrate intell with the information side."

Emmett Paige Jr. who resigned as ASD/C3I earlier this year called the move a "bastardization" of the CIO office and contrasted this structure of power with the strong CIO position advocated by the Clinger-Cohen Act. That legislation which Cohen helped write while he was in the Senate called for agencies to better manage their IT systems.

Still Paige Andrews and others said they believed Cohen had the potential to make the new organization work. A secretary of Defense needs to "create an organization that is responsive to his particular style and needs " Andrews said. "If this reorganization fits the needs of Secretary Cohen then it will probably work for him."

Going forward one of the main challenges for Cohen and Gansler will be putting many of the initiatives into effect particularly in the area of consolidation and outsourcing of IT activities. People familiar with the initiative noted the lack of specific time lines for many goals including the further consolidation of the Defense megacenters from 16 data processing facilities to six.

Gansler has been a major proponent of consolidating and outsourcing data processing functions leading a Defense Science Board study last year that pinpointed these activities as a potentially big opportunity for savings.

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