DOD maintains stake in key IT programs

Marking its first increase in spending since the end of the Cold War, the Defense Department made a concerted effort in its fiscal 2000 budget proposal to strike a balance between immediate personnel and readiness concerns and the need for investment in future information technologies.

Although DOD's $268 billion budget included healthy investments in IT, such as more than $100 million each for desktop computer initiatives in the Marine Corps and the Navy, Defense Secretary William Cohen said the central goal of the fiscal 2000 budget was "to preserve America's military strength."

In addition, Cohen said continuing with the elements of the department's Defense Reform Initiative, such as paperless contracting and commercial best practices, was a key factor in DOD's fiscal 2000 plans.

According to Cohen, DOD's efforts to streamline its business practices are "imperative" to freeing up funds needed for critical modernization programs and personnel issues. In one such effort, DOD plans to compete up to 229,000 base operating support positions throughout the department—a move that will save the department $11 billion through fiscal 2005, Cohen said.

However, DOD pumped the bulk of its funding increases into its uniformed personnel by funding pay raises and "quality of life" initiatives designed to improve working and living conditions.

DOD needs to make these investments to retain key personnel, including IT professionals, who may be lured by high salaries into industry, according to Adm. Jay Johnson, chief of naval operations.

But the Navy also must "shape a career path" to retain talented technology professionals, Johnson said. In fact, the Navy's retention record is so poor, Johnson said, that "we'd get fired in industry for throwing people away."

Air Force: Comm Takes Back Seat

Fiscal 2000 budget constraints prevented the Air Force from attending to all of its global communications and base-level command, control, communications and intelligence infrastructure needs, according to a senior Air Force official.

While the Air Force still plans to upgrade the underlying network systems at bases around the world, the fiscal 2000 budget shifts money to boost salaries and take other steps to maintain manpower levels. The Air Force also needs to carry out another round of base closures, as required by the Defense Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1990, while still buying the equipment needed to maintain an adequate force.

The Air Force began its Global Grid program in 1997, earmarking $1.2 billion over five years to fund the installation of fiber-optic cabling, Asynchronous Transfer Mode switches, hubs and routers at up to 108 bases. This year, the Air Force's $79 billion budget includes $123 million for base information infrastructure, only $2 million more than the fiscal 1999 budget.

"We didn't get to do fiber [optics] to the desktop," a senior Air Force official said. The Air Force plans to put "the very next dollar" that becomes available in future budgets toward infrastructure, the official said.

Navy/Marines: IT-21 Focused

The Navy won a $135 million funding increase for its Information Technology for the 21st Century project, designed to provide high-speed networking to major ships and key bases.

This funding "will keep us on track for full IT-21 installations on our deploying Carrier Battle Groups and Amphibious Ready Groups," said Adm. Archie Clemins, commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet and the architect of the IT-21 project. "The remainder will be spent toward the establishment of a Navy-wide corporate intranet by the fall of 2001."

A Pacific Fleet spokesman said the funding increase includes $80 million for shipboard local-area networks and automated digital network control systems, $14 million for satellite terminals and $20 million for shore installations.

Johnson said IT-21 already has started to provide operational payoffs to the Navy. Speaking to the West '99 conference last month in San Diego, Johnson said that Rear Adm. Bill Putnam, commander of ships in the USS Lincoln Carrier Battle Group, which recently returned from operations in the Persian Gulf, reported that IT-21 provided him with "speed and ease of planning [that] changed what he was able to that it was the centerpiece of his post-deployment report."

Johnson said the capabilities provided by IT-21 must be extended servicewide and believes that "the Navy-wide intranet will increase performance, decrease costs and improve security."

The Marine Corps plans to begin funding an initiative to field common computing equipment across the service as part of its fiscal 2000 budget.

The budget proposal reflects the Marines' new "enterprise" strategy for acquiring and deploying IT that was announced in December by Debra Filippi, deputy chief information officer for the Marine Corps. The Marines Corps, Filippi said, has embraced the Navy's IT-21 standards, which provide a common computing environment based on commercial products for Navy systems on ships and on shore.

Out of the $470 million earmarked for communications and electronics, the Marines have asked for $102 million for common computer equipment. The budget also includes $77 million for base infrastructure upgrades and $24 million for the Tactical Data Network, which will extend the Corps' information infrastructure to deployed forces.

Army: Digitizing the Battlefield

Advanced networks are at the core of the Army's operational vision and strategy to achieve "full spectrum dominance based on information superiority," according to the introduction to the Army's budget.

The Army has asked to have a large portion of its IT dollars fund its Force XXI battlefield digitization program, which relies on network and computer technology to transmit tactical data to troops and commanders throughout a battle theater. A total of $2.8 billion—a $200 million increase from fiscal 1999—is spread across procurements, R&D and operations and maintenance budget lines.

The budget provides for upgrades to Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles with systems that will allow them to tie into the Force XXI battlefield network.

The Army budget provides $72 million in funding for the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below Command and Control System, which the service described as the "cornerstone" of its digitization efforts.

The Army also plans to increase spending on tactical command and control systems in fiscal 2000 to $285 million, up from $236 million in 1999. Upgrades in base communications system continue with a strong funding line: $193 million in fiscal 2000, up from $150 million in 1999.

In a speech last year, Paul Hoeper, assistant secretary of the Army for research and development, said the new digitized systems will allow commanders to develop "situational awareness" of friendly and enemy forces, allowing commanders to pierce "the fog of war" that has historically clouded battlefield decision-making.

DOD Budget Authority (dollars in billions)

AccountFY 99FY 00
Operations & Maintenance $98.1$103.5
Research & Development$36.6$34.4

Procurement Highlights (dollars in millions)

Service/ProgramFY 99FY 00
Information Systems Security$33.6$28.8
Local-Area Networks$10$100
Base Comms (Information Systems)$84.3$56.9
Global Broadcast Services$5.9$10.9
All Source Analysis System$30.8$56.5
Air Force
Information Systems Security$18.3$20.9
Automated Data Processing Equipment$34.3$71.2
National Airspace System$14$54.4
Strategic Command & Control$10.8$22.1
Information Transmission Systems$11.1$14
Base Information Infrastructure$120.6$122.8
Base Comms Infrastructure$27.8$41.6
Info Systems Security $45.8$64.1
GCCS-M Ashore Equipment$4.5$9.4
GCCS-M Tactical/Mobile Equipment$23.9$7.1
Ship Comms Automation$90.3$220.7
Marine Corps
Common Computer ResourcesN/A$102.8
Comms Infrastructure Support$89.9$81.8


  • Workforce
    White House rainbow light shutterstock ID : 1130423963 By zhephotography

    White House rolls out DEIA strategy

    On Tuesday, the Biden administration issued agencies a roadmap to guide their efforts to develop strategic plans for diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA), as required under a as required under a June executive order.

  • Defense
    software (whiteMocca/

    Why DOD is so bad at buying software

    The Defense Department wants to acquire emerging technology faster and more efficiently. But will its latest attempts to streamline its processes be enough?

Stay Connected