Status of Pentagon IT office under review

Space Commission Report

With the future of the Defense Department's top information technology position uncertain under a Pentagon reorganization plan, military and industry officials are urging the department to tread lightly in considering whether to restructure the office. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld decided not to elevate the Pentagon's office of assistant secretary of Defense for command, control, communications and intelligence (ASDC3I) to the undersecretary level, as some proponents had recommended. Instead, he said the office's functions are being reviewed. Rumsfeld announced his decision May 8 while outlining his plans to make space operations a top DOD priority.

"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."

"My recommendation is to be very careful in what you do and recognize the importance of that office in tying together the department's overall information picture," said Duane Andrews, corporate executive vice president for federal business at Science Applications International Corp., who formerly served as ASDC3I.

Andrews served on the space commission whose report led to Rumsfeld's reorganization plan. According to Andrews, commission members unanimously agreed the ASDC3I should be promoted to the undersecretary level. He said, however, that the position should not have control of IT dollars because the added duties might distract from the office's policy and planning duties.

Some experts speculate that the Pentagon might try to separate the office's intelligence duties from its command, control and communications functions, creating two separate positions. DOD officials tried to do that a few years ago, but the outcry from C3I experts led to the office actually being given more duties and power.

Maj. Gen. Brian Arnold, Air Force director of space and nuclear deterrence, said he likes the office the way it is. "In my view, it's worth keeping it together for the synergy that you get vs. separating it," he said.

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