Brubaker blasts 'cultural logjam'

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"Chief concerns"

In a fiery speech Thursday, the Pentagon's deputy chief information officer

denounced those within the Defense Department and the federal government

who resist innovative programs like the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet.

Paul Brubaker, who oversees the $16 billion dollar N/MCI program, spoke

at an awards luncheon in Washington, D.C., on the same day industry sources

found out that the N/MCI contract announcement would once again be delayed.

The target date is now Sept. 25.

Navy officials promised members of Congress months ago that they would not

announce the winner until details of the Defense appropriations bill have

been hammered out, an ongoing process scheduled for completion no later

than Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. The agreement is meant, in part,

to prevent the Navy from announcing the contract and then being surprised

by the outcome of the budget negotiation process.

Brubaker said N/MCI in particular, and information technology in general,

often fall victim to those who prefer the status quo.

"We're really not fundamentally changing the way we do business in the federal

government. We haven't even begun to scratch the surface of potential of

the Information Age," Brubaker said during the luncheon for the Association

for Federal Information Resource Management. "My experience in government

so far is that the culture really kills innovation and change, and we've

got to find some way to really overcome the cultural obstacles that get

in our way."

When it comes to making fundamental changes to the way organizations do

business, Brubaker said, many don't back up their talk with action.

"We've run headlong into a cultural logjam that exists. There are a lot

of people out there who will talk a lot of really good talk about changing

and performing but who aren't really following that up with some action,

and I think fundamentally we've got to look at how the federal government

is structured...and whether we are really ready to enter the Information

Age," Brubaker said.

He cited N/MCI as a specific example.

"The thing I absolutely love about N/MCI is that it sticks culture right

in the eye. If it were up to the culture, the culture would blow down N/MCI,"

Brubaker said. He added that N/MCI lays the groundwork for a solid information

architecture, rather than building an architecture "from the ground up,

ad hoc," as so often happens.

He also spoke of the need for a federal chief information officer, saying

that the original Clinger-Cohen Act called for an office to be formed and

made a good case for doing so.

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