From the top down

Various factors have played a role in making transformation a driving force at the Pentagon, including the maturity of the technology, an administration with heightened business acumen and the demonstrated successes of such measures in real-world situations.

But the key change has been at the top, observers say, beginning with Defense Department Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his ability to sell the department on his vision.

"The new leadership is saying that we have to change," said Anthony Valletta, vice president and director of command, control, communications and intelligence (C3I) systems for SRA International Inc. Valletta, former acting assistant secretary of Defense for C3I, added, "He's at the point where they are able to really push it."

"I think the secretary of Defense had a clear understanding in his mind that he wanted to transform the military," said retired Air Force Gen. James McCarthy, whom Rumsfeld appointed last year to lead a group that made broad recommendations about transforming DOD.

"It has taken awhile for the department to understand that he really intended to do this, see the results of his commitment," said McCarthy, a professor at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Under Rumsfeld, transformation has become the mantra for DOD, and department officials stress that they are making a significant commitment to the effort. Many mention retired Navy Vice Adm. Arthur Cebrowski's appointment as director of the new Office of Force Transformation as a significant step.

But the Bush administration also seeks to fund transformation programs. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee's Defense Subcommittee, said that transformation programs, in one form or another, account for more than $20 billion in the Bush administration's proposed DOD fiscal 2003 budget.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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