No promotion for Pentagon IT slot

Space Commission Report

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has decided not to elevate the Pentagon's top information technology division to the undersecretary level, leaving the office's fate up in the air for now.

Rumsfeld announced his decision about the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (ASDC3I) on Tuesday while outlining his plans to make space a top Pentagon priority.

Some officials within the office have been pushing to elevate the ASDC3I position to an undersecretary position that would control from 5 percent to 10 percent of the Pentagon's IT budget. But Rumsfeld soundly rejected the idea while delaying a final decision on how to organize the office.

"I have decided not to request legislation to establish an undersecretary of Defense for space, intelligence and information," Rumsfeld wrote in a letter to Congress. "I have asked staff to review the responsibilities and functions of the [ASDC3I] and provide me with recommendations for ensuring appropriate senior-level policy guidance, oversight, and advocacy for space, intelligence and information activities."

Meanwhile, some officials within DOD are considering placing the chief information officer position under the control of the comptroller, according to Paul Brubaker, former deputy CIO in the Pentagon. The department's CIO also serves as the ASDC3I.

Brubaker said such a move would be "a colossal mistake" because it would mean a loss of independence for the CIO and result in a lack of innovation on IT issues.

Rumsfeld's announcement on making space a priority in defense planning came in response to congressional direction to assess space management and organization in support of national defense. That assessment was done by the so-called space commission that Rumsfeld led until taking the job of Defense secretary.

Some of the commission's recommendations adopted by Rumsfeld include:

Establishing a committee for space within the National Security Council, which will provide a senior, interagency forum to develop, coordinate and monitor implementation of White House policy guidance for space activities. Studying the feasibility of establishing an office of space reconnaissance within the National Reconnaissance Office. Making the Air Force the executive agent for space within DOD. The service would have departmentwide responsibility for acquiring space systems and for organizing, training and equipping the military for space operations. Putting a four-star general other than the commander of U.S. Space Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command in charge of Air Force Space Command. At present, one four-star official fills all three of the positions. Making the undersecretary of the Air Force director of the National Reconnaissance Office, which would be designated the Air Force acquisition executive for space and be given decision-making power for space programs.

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