DOD e-commerce strategy knocked

The Defense Department took hits in two major information technology-related areas—management of systems modernization and information security—in the General Accounting Office's Performance and Accountability Series report released Jan. 17.

GAO estimates the Pentagon spends $20 billion annually in IT to support military business functions and operations, such as logistics, finance and accounting and health services, and tens of billions more on technology embedded in sophisticated weaponry.

But GAO found that the management of systems modernization efforts "continues to challenge DOD and remains a high-risk area."

GAO hit the Pentagon especially hard on its inability to implement an effective electronic commerce strategy. The report faulted DOD's chief information officer, Art Money, and the Joint Electronic Commerce Program Office for being unable to reach agreement with the military services and agencies.

"In lieu of a common and integrated approach, DOD is allowing the joint program office, the military services and three of the larger Defense agencies to develop separate plans," the report stated.

Those plans, according to the report, are to be merged into one departmentwide plan sometime in the future, but no date has been established, "which means the Defense Department components are addressing architecture development within their respective stovepiped organizations."

The report also criticized the department's computer security and information assurance efforts. The department has made progress since GAO reported such weaknesses in 1997, but the "huge population" of unclassified networks in need of additional safeguards remains a concern, according to the latest report.

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