Army begins IT consolidation

The Army has taken the first step in its effort to consolidate and centrally manage its vast information technology architecture.

In early August, the service began to consolidate IT systems operated by individual installations in the Military District of Washington, which extends from New York to Virginia.

Army officials hope regional management of the district's IT infrastructure will guide them as the service implements sweeping changes outlined in an Aug. 9 policy memorandum by Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, and Thomas White, the Army secretary. The memo outlines five goals for Army Knowledge Management (AKM), an effort that emphasizes better information sharing and faster, more informed decision-making.

"Army Knowledge the Army strategy to transform itself into a network-centric, knowledge-based force. This effort is an integral part of Army transformation," Shin.seki and White wrote in the memo. "AKM is intended to improve decision dominance by our warfighters and business stewards in the battlespace, in our organizations and in our mission processes."

The Washington district is "small enough we can get a handle on it" and will "allow us to do some testing and help us frame the larger enterprise issue," said Miriam Browning, Army principal director of enterprise integration.

Army Knowledge Online, the service's Web portal, is the centerpiece of the knowledge management effort. Officials expect all functional areas — personnel, finance, logistics, command and control, and medical — to "streamline and 'Webify' their applications and link them to Army Knowledge Online," Browning said. And by October, the service will have the infrastructure in place to allow all 1.2 million service members and civilian employees to log on to the portal.

In April, the Army formed a chief information officer executive board, consisting of CIOs from all of the major commands and Army headquarters agencies. Lt. Gen. Peter Cuviello, Army CIO, is the chairman. Among other things, the executive board will review major IT initiatives and decide which will have funds centrally managed by the CIO office.

Col. Jim Whitehead is the strategic planner responsible for consolidating the Army infrastructure. He and Col. Philip La Perla, CIO for the Military District of Washington, will jointly lead the effort.

Dan Goure, senior fellow at the Lexington Institute, applauded the Army's move as a way of improving oversight and ensuring that the service purchases systems capable of sharing data.

"In the end, it is a necessary move for the Army," Goure said. What's included Military District of Washington installations include:

* Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.

* Fort Myer, Va.

* Fort Belvoir, Va.

* Fort A.P. Hill, Va.

* Fort Meade, Md.

* Fort Hamilton, N.Y.


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