Army begins work on IT 'transformation'

The Army set up a new organization this month to spearhead an effort to update and integrate its various information systems into a comprehensive infrastructure.

The Army Enterprise Information Systems office has divided its work into three areas — requirements, architecture and acquisition — and set up teams to focus on each. The integrated process teams include representatives from all of the Army's major commands.

T. Kevin Carroll, formerly program executive officer of Standard Army Management Information Systems, was tapped earlier this month to head the new organization.

The project, known as the Army Enterprise Infostructure Transformation, is intended to reduce the cost of maintaining information systems, while improving access to information and applications across the service.

"This is an opportunity to approach things in a truly enterprise manner, which is a really big change," Carroll said, adding that the office may grow by adding other areas later.

The requirements team began work last week, with the goal of developing a statement of objectives for the project by May, if not sooner, Carroll said. That "team will feed data to the architecture team, which is looking at the Army's 'as is' architecture and, to move forward, 'needs' requirements," Carroll said.

As a baseline for their work, the integrated process teams are using the "golden nuggets" mined from 65 industry responses to an Army request for information last year seeking ideas on how to build a "network-centric, knowledge-based environment."

Those responses, combined with subsequent interviews of Army senior information technology leaders, helped form a consensus to move forward, Carroll said.

The requirements and architecture teams will feed the acquisition strategy unit, which will look at factors including whether the transformation project will be done in phases and whether a new contract is necessary. "There may or may not be an acquisition out of this," Carroll said.

Ray Bjorklund, vice president of consulting services at Federal Sources Inc., said the Army's use of integrated process teams is a good way to get personnel at all levels on board.

"If the [teams] are truly integrated, it's a great tool to get more buy-in from the different areas across the Army, from ...technologists to the warfighter," he said.

He added that an acquisition team will help provide "a realistic view of what needs to be purchased, what can be done in-house and what [might be] needed from new contracts."

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Teamwork is Key

The Army Enterprise Information Systems office brings together two related, but previously independent, units:

* The Program Executive Office Standard Army Management Information Systems, which provided business and combat support systems, as well as logistics, personnel and medical systems support.

* The Office of the Deputy for Systems Acquisition for the Communications-Electronics Command, which provided communication infrastructure, including support for the Pentagon information technology renovation effort.

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