Army consolidating IT management

The Army is putting its chief information officer in charge of tens of millions of information technology dollars and will put one organization — possibly a major command — in charge of operating and maintaining the infrastructure.

The changes — a total of five goals to be achieved by October 2002 — are outlined in a policy memorandum signed Aug. 8 by Gen. Eric Shinseki, Army chief of staff, and Thomas White, the new secretary of the Army.

The changes center largely on the Army Knowledge Online portal and are designed to consolidate the IT infrastructure and its management.

As part of the package, the Army's CIO office, led by Lt. Gen. Peter Cuviello, has been reorganized. As of Aug. 7, Miriam Browning — formerly the Army's director of information management — is the principal director of enterprise integration and is in charge of various directorates.

Browning discussed the Army's goals Aug. 9, shortly before the memorandum was released through the Army's general officer network, the CIO executive board and the Army Knowledge Online portal.

"This document is the strategic transformer not only for the information technology world in the Army but for all those other worlds that use information technology — financial, medical, and so on, all across the Army," Browning said.

The major objectives include consolidating management of the information infrastructure, or infostructure, by putting one organization in charge. The service is considering how best to do that.

In addition, the service also is taking away IT dollars not targeted to acquisition programs, such as tactical command and control systems, and the Army Wholesale Logistics Modernization. Those systems will continue to be funded through the Army's traditional acquisition system, but tens of millions of base operating dollars marked for IT will be placed under the control of the Army CIO.

The five goals outlined in the Army knowledge management guidance memorandum are:

* Adopt governance and cultural changes to become a knowledge-based organization. This includes new policies and management structures, including withdrawing from major commands IT funds not committed to major acquisition programs.

* Integrate knowledge management and best business practices into Army practices. This requires major commands to provide a summary by Oct. 1 of knowledge management initiatives, best business practices and plans to achieve data sharing.

* Manage the "infostructure" at the enterprise level. By Oct. 1, the Army will designate a single authority to operate and manage the Army's servicewide information infrastructure.

* Establish Army Knowledge Online as the enterprise portal by having every soldier and civilian employee registered on the portal by Oct. 1.

* Prepare personnel for functioning in a knowledge organization by providing learning opportunities, career-building tools and mentoring relationships necessary to retain skilled personnel. By 2002, major commands are required to provide the CIO with innovative ideas and initiatives for reshaping the workforce into a network-centric, knowledge-based force.

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