Innovation, mobility drive DOD budget

Government Electronics and Information Technology Association home page

A push for innovation, mobility and real-time battlefield awareness will

drive the Defense Department IT budget over the next five years, according

the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association.

DOD spent $22 billion on IT in fiscal 2000, with the Air Force leading

the way at $4.7 billion, according to numbers compiled by GEIA. The organization

estimates that DOD IT spending will grow 1.1 percent annually over the next

five years, reaching $24.3 billion by 2005.

GEIA presented the estimates in advance of its 2000 Vision conference,

which will be held Oct. 31-Nov. 2 in Crystal City, Va. The event will be

the organization's 12th five-year IT forecast conference.

Spending will stem from the military services' need for "real-time situational

awareness of the battlefield at any given time," said Mike Kush, GEIA defense

agency forecast chairman and vice president of business development at VGS.

"They are not satisfied with several days or several hours. Now they want

it in 30 minutes, and that will drop by next year."

Kush focused his discussion on the Navy and Marine Corps, where budget

dollars will be funneled to the Navy Marine Corps Intranet program and "people

costs," with information assurance and retaining personnel the main drivers

of change.

Depending on the success of NMCI — a contract potentially worth $6.9

billion — other military services may explore similar ventures to outsource

major IT projects to industry.

Kush said the Navy and Marine Corps message to industry was a simple

one: "NMCI absolutely will change the way they do business," he said. They

want industry to "get rid of "old think' and be innovative."

That message carries over to the other branches of the military, especially

the Army, which is undergoing a massive transformation, Kush said.

"The Army wants to be a mobile, deployable force that can be airlifted

rapidly, and that is going to mean the redesign of equipment — smaller,

faster, lighter IT equipment," Kush said.

Another factor in DOD budgeting is a change in reporting that affects

the Defense Information Systems Agency. DISA had an overstatement in its

budget this year — reporting $3.2 billion in IT expenditures in fiscal 2000,

said Mary Freeman, GEIA budget forecast chairwoman and market research manger

at Verizon Federal.

"I expect the size of the DISA budget next year could be drastically

different, as small as $500 million" because of changes in budget reporting,

Freeman said.

The explanation for the huge dropoff is that DISA gets credit if another

service uses one of its contracts to purchase IT equipment and services.

For example, if the Air Force uses a DISA contract to make a procurement,

DISA gets credit. That practice will cease in future reporting, Freeman

said.

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