DOD deputy CIO rips 'cultural logjam'
- By George I. Seffers
- Sep 25, 2000
In a fiery speech Sept. 21, the Pentagon's deputy chief information officer
denounced those within the Defense Department and the federal government
who resist innovative programs such as the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet.
Paul Brubaker, who oversees the $16 billion 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
latest target date is today.
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, 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," he said. "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
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 said 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 CIO, saying that the original Clinger-
Cohen Act called for an office to be formed and made a good case for doing