Navy to propose IT command

Connecting Technology conference

The Navy could launch an information technology command in the coming months, a Navy official confirmed Tuesday.

Adm. Vern Clark, the chief of naval operations, plans to recommend to newly confirmed Navy Secretary Gordon England an IT command that would be headed by a three-star admiral, said Michael Dominguez, the CNO's assistant director for space, information warfare, command and control.

The command would operate the Information Technology for the 21st Century program, the Navy's effort to upgrade networking systems on its ships, Dominguez said, speaking at the Navy's Connecting Technology conference in Virginia Beach, Va., in place of his boss, Vice Adm. Richard Mayo, the CNO's director for space, information warfare, command and control.

The command also would oversee the Navy's computer network attack and defense work through IT-21 and the Navy Marine Corps Intranet procurement with Electronic Data Systems Corp.

"So far we've gotten enthusiastic approval and support," from the commanders of the Navy's fleets and its systems commands for the idea, Dominguez said. The fleet commanders operate the Navy's airplanes and ships, and the systems commands prepare materiel and technology for the fleets to operate.

"This shows how important information technology has become to the Navy," said Marv Langston, the former Navy Department chief information officer and a Falls Church, Va.-based consultant. He said that the proposal could take a year or longer to put into place and that Congress would probably get involved in overseeing the matter. It's also uncertain who would serve as the commander of the new organization, he said.

The new command is related in spirit to the Navy's effort to implement a military occupational specialty field for information technology. "That would build a cadre of information technology specialists," in the service, just as there are surface warfare specialist and submarine officers, Langston said.

"I would be very concerned if I were [program executive officer for information technology]," a Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command official said when asked what effect the initiative would have on his command.

Joseph Cipriano, the Navy's PEO for IT, oversees NMCI, and it's unclear what his organization's role would be under the three-star technology command.

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