Army hunts more bandwidth

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As the Army continues to consolidate and centrally manage its immense information technology infrastructure, the service is calling on the private sector for help in managing its bandwidth.

Miriam Browning, the Army's principal director of enterprise integration, said that as the Army continues to sign new accounts onto its Army Knowledge Online portal, bandwidth, and lack thereof, is a problem that won't go away. The portal has more 609,000 accounts and is expecting more than 1.2 million before completion.

"We're looking for solutions on bandwidth," Browning said Oct. 23 during her luncheon address at the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association's Vision Conference in Alexandria, Va. "As we look at enterprise management of the Army, one of the core technology architecture issues we have to solve is more ubiquitous, high-speed bandwidth across the Army."

Browning said the bandwidth problem is not unique to the Army, but is an infrastructure problem for the entire country, where only about 5 percent of homes have high-speed bandwidth access. She said that unlike other IT initiatives that have gained greater prominence since the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, bandwidth management has "always been a high priority."

Browning heads six directorates in her new role, which she assumed on Aug. 7 as part of the reorganization of the chief information officer's office: Army Knowledge Management, strategic outreach, chief technology office, human capital management, strategic partnering, and policy and governance.

With regard to the Army's overall enterprise IT plans and knowledge management goals, Browning said the service would like to reduce its "IT footprint because it's less secure and more costly than we would like it" to be.

"Knowledge sharing horizontally across agencies is a behavior we're not used to, and frankly, we're uncomfortable with it," Browning said, adding that a culture must be established to get it done.

To aid that effort, the Army is "undergoing studies" and debating options for a single information management/information technology organization and management authority for the service. Personnel in that office would act as "operators for the CIO," but no deadline for implementation has been established, Browning said.

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