An Army of one network

The Army is putting its chief information officer in charge of tens of millions of information technology dollars and will put one organization or 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 Army secretary.

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. Miriam Browning, formerly the Army's director of information management, on Aug. 7 became the principal director of enterprise integration.

Browning called the memo "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." The major objectives include put.ting one organization in charge of the service's information infrastructure. Just how the Army will do that is still being worked out.

In addition, the service also is consolidating IT dollars not earmarked for acquisition programs, such as tactical command and control systems, and the Army Wholesale Logistics Modernization. Their funding will continue through the traditional acquisition system while the Army CIO will control all other IT funds.

Such centralization is a long-term necessity for the Army, said Dan Goure, senior fellow at the Lexington Institute, a think tank.

"The problem across [DOD] is not too little money; it's too little oversight," Goure said. "The value of moving that money up the chain is that you can do a better job of ensuring IT compatibility."

The official request for information from industry is expected within several weeks. The responses from industry will be combined with economic analyses, Browning said, and officials expect to release a request for proposals early next year. "At present, the Army is not committed to following any IT infrastructure consolidation model," Cuviello said. "We will review and analyze the responses we get and develop an Armywide strategy for the consolidation of our computer and network infrastructure."Transforming IT

In a memo signed Aug. 8, the Army's top military and civilian leader outlined five goals for the service's "infostructure" transformation.

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

* Integrate knowledge management and best business practices into Army procedures.

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

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

* Retain and train personnel to work in a knowledge-based organization. By 2002, major commands must provide the CIO with ideas and initiatives for developing IT workers.

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