Pentagon CIO office staying put

The entire office of the chief information officer at the Pentagon will stay in place under the new Bush administration, enabling the Defense Department to continue its efforts to improve warfighter support using technology.

The nominee for Defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has issued several priorities for the department, all focused on adapting to the 21st century. And much of that adaptation will happen through better understanding of the use of information technology, said Paul Brubaker, deputy CIO at Defense, speaking Thursday at a luncheon of the Association for Federal Information Resource Management.

The Pentagon's CIO office priorities for 2001 include:

Improving the department's IT infrastructure. Changing many of the old processes by implementing financial management, human resources and other enterprise resource planning systems. Updating the IT investment process. Addressing many workforce issues. Convincing department personnel to accept changing the way things are done. "We're couching all of these as readiness issues because they are," Brubaker said. "If you can't get the right information to the right people at the right time...then you're behind the eight ball."

The department's IT infrastructure will be a priority, because the technology in place simply cannot support the necessary real-time mission data. "It is fragile, it is less than assured...we just do not have the infrastructure to support the Information Age," he said.

A proposal to give the CIO more political power within the department by elevating the office to an undersecretary position is not assured. Nevertheless, the CIO must get control of 10 percent to 20 percent of the IT budget to put in place the needed infrastructure across the services, Brubaker said.

New financial management and human resources systems must be part of that infrastructure, he said, adding that the department also must commit to accompanying process changes instead of "tinkering at the edges."

The five-year budgeting process and system is just one of the things that must be updated to get IT investments through while they can be effective, Brubaker said.

The office will address various workforce issues, including the standard problem of not having enough skilled personnel. Brubaker said there will be training for the many people within DOD management that do not understand the technology available and what it can do for them.

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