- By George I. Seffers
- Jul 16, 2001
Intell IT: Ka-ching!
Ever wonder how much the oh-so-secretive folks over in the intelligence agencies spend on information technology?
Well, thanks to Joseph Wright, director of the Office of Management and Bud.get during the Reagan years, that closely held figure is now a bit more public.
Wright testified before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee July 11 that the federal government spent $77.6 billion last year on IT projects. Some senators looked a little puzzled, and being quick on the uptake, Wright immediately explained that the more commonly heard figure$45 billion does not include intelligence agency spending on IT. Let's see, so you bring down the point six, and seven minus five is two and....
Really Tough Math
The intelligence IT budget wasn't the only math being conducted during the slew of recent budget hearings. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee's Military Readiness Subcommittee, explained during a July 11 hearing why lawmakers are skeptical of Defense Department accounting. It seems that during earlier hearings on potential outsourcing savings, a Pentagon official reported that DOD saved about $200 million. That doesn't sound half bad, but the Air Force reported having saved $180 million, the Navy $1.2 billion and so on.
"When you add up all those numbers, the services were saying we saved $1.5 billion when the represen.tative for the secretary [of Defense] was saying we saved $200 million," Weldon said. The problem apparently lies in the Pentagon's atrocious accounting systemsofficials are requesting $100 million to fix them.
Note to senior DOD officials: Will you guys get calculators and make sure your figures add up?
That $100 million request for fixing DOD's financial accounting systems is a little hard for some folks to swallow. In the words of one Air Force employee, "Surely not everybody has $100 million to look at a problem and completely redo the software. Who knows? Maybe this time they'll have learned from last time, but I'm not holding my breath."
Mum's Always the Word
Under the leadership of Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, the National Security Agencythat once supersecret spy agency that pretended not to existhas become so press friendly it's downright spooky. They invite you in, buy you a Coke, show you around and answer your questions. They even laugh when someone pokes fun at them in a certain wanna-be humor column. (DISA, take note.)
But some old habits won't die. The agency is preparing to award the contract for the $5 billion outsourcing project known as Groundbreaker, and industry sources are afraid to talk for fear of an NSA backlash. The concept is called "freedom of information."
E for Effort
Last winter, Gen. Eric Shinseki, Army chief of staff, prodded the Army Knowledge Online team to make the portal available Armywide by year's end. There's only one itsy-bitsy problem: Army officials intend to sign up a million users. They are approaching 162,000 and add about 550 each day. At that rate, they'll be lucky to sign up another 100,000 by 2002.
The million users will likely not be there by year's end, but the infrastructure for them will be, said Lt. Col. Roderick Wade, the program chief. You can't blame 'em for trying.
Devil Dog Dare
I offer this to the Marine Corps source who says Intercepts has become too dry and needs spicing up with a little more gossip and innuendo. Go ahead, send me some dirt.
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