DOD details IT wish list

The Defense Department is seeking a significant boost in information technology spending for fiscal 2003, in part to help fund its goal of becoming a network-centric department.

DOD, which detailed its IT budget wish list late last month, is requesting $26.4 billion for IT and national security systems in fiscal 2003, up nearly 12 percent over fiscal 2002, according to an analysis by Federal Sources Inc., a McLean, Va., market research firm.

"The requested increase is pretty dramatic — even for the Defense Department," said Payton Smith, an analyst with Input, a market research firm in Vienna, Va. The increase is not surprising given recent events, he noted.

The budget proposal makes clear the importance of the armed services' ability to respond to problems that may come their way, he said.

While the budget document includes only unclassified systems, the numbers might be even higher if classified systems are included, analysts said. Richard Turner, chief information officer at the National Security Agency, speaking at a breakfast with vendors on March 27, said that NSA was seeking a 15 percent increase for fiscal 2003.

The budget sends several clear messages, said Ray Bjorklund, a vice president at Federal Sources. "You see the trans.formation message coming through," he said, referring to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's overarching initiative to modernize the armed services.

That focus on transformation is clear in the budget numbers, the programs that are getting support and the emphasis on joint programs that can be used departmentwide, Bjorklund said.

The budget also signifies greater power in DOD's command, control, communications and intelligence (C3I), which is taking on a larger role in managing and controlling investments across the department, he said.

John Stenbit, assistant secretary of Defense for C3I and DOD's CIO, has repeatedly stressed the importance of having a network-centric department.

"That document has pretty clear messages about how the military departments and agencies are aligning with network-centric warfare and the need to share information across the organization," Bjorklund said. "There is a slightly enhanced sense of jointness."

"This is something that has been percolating along for at least the last four years," said Michael Kush, senior systems engineer for Vector Research Inc. and chairman of the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association's defense agency budget forecast team.

Input's Smith also noted that the budget proposal would increase spending on IT infrastructure while cutting back somewhat on functional areas. That reflects a governmentwide mind-set of looking at infrastructure and securing networks against potential attacks.

If Congress approves the budget, the Navy and Air Force would see the most significant budget increases of 16 percent and 13 percent, respectively, according to Federal Sources.

The fiscal 2003 budget provides the Navy with a big increase for its enterprisewide network effort across its shore-based facilities. Spending for the Navy Marine Corps Intranet coincides with a significant spike in its implementation schedule. By the end of fiscal 2003, EDS, NMCI's lead vendor, will complete its rollout, reaching more than 411,000 seats.

DOD also is requesting an increase for its Defense Message System to $314 million, up from $286.8 million in fiscal 2002.

There is also significant funding for DOD's Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS), which actually is more of a computer with a radio front end. The radio will permit communications across DOD services. DOD is requesting $172 million for JTRS in fiscal 2003, up from $165 million in fiscal 2002.

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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