Brubaker blasts 'cultural logjam'
- By George I. Seffers
- Sep 22, 2000
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.