Intercepts

Navy IT food fight. My old-town San Diego mobile unit has picked up strong signals that Rear Adm. John Gauss, the new Spawar commander, has ambitious plans to corral most— if not all— of the Navy's IT budget.

This plan, I'm told, includes Spawar absorbing the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Command— a move that makes a lot of sense from the business and operational perspectives.

I'm told that Vice Adm. Walt Cebrowski, the Navy's cyberczar, has signed on to this plan, which might be a fait accompli except for some very strong resistance by Monica Shepherd, the Atlantic Fleet N6. Shepherd, the first civilian ever to hold a top N6 job, believes that warfighting commands such as the Atlantic Fleet should have direct control of IT dollars.

This resistance also may reflect some paranoia by the Atlantic Fleet folk over the Navy's IT-21 project, which originated in the Pacific Fleet and seems to have a real westward tilt.

The plain PKI truth. The Pentagon has embraced software encryption and public-key infrastructure for commercial transactions for simple economic reasons, according to Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre.

"We just don't need a Fortezza card to wrap around a $120 travel voucher,'' Hamre said in a speech at last week's AFCEA electronic commerce conference. Hamre said he wants industry to provide commercial encryption products for DOD's EC program for another simple reason: "We don't want to specify a solution [because] if we do, we'll be wrong.''

DOD desperately needs to switch to EC, Hamre said, because the Defense Finance and Accounting System processing center in Columbus, Ohio, "disburses $43 million an hour using 1930s technology.''

Standards dictator needed. Interoperability problems among Army, Navy and Air Force systems result not from a lack of standards but from too many of them, according to Lt. Gen. William Campbell, the Army DISC4.

Campbell, speaking at last week's Software Technology Conference in Salt Lake City, said, "Interoperability problems result from an egalitarian standards process. Joint publications let anyone define a standard who wants to. That's why you can define location in 20 different ways [on DOD systems],'' Campbell said.

Sounds to me like DOD needs to recruit my old sergeant from 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines— Herbierto Gonzalez— as a standards czar. He believed standardization extended to how his worker bees folded their undershorts.

Bad travel planning? Patricia Sanders, DOD's director of test system engineering and evaluation, has oversight of all of the Pentagon's test ranges, and she recently completed a swing through the Pacific, complete with a one-day stop at the Navy's Barking Sands range in Kauai, Hawaii, and a two-day layover at the Army's Kwajelein Island test site in the Marshall Islands.

Sanders commented that on her next trip she might like to reverse the ratio between the two.

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