DOD officials split on IT funding

Defense Department information technology leaders expressed mixed views on whether there is appropriate funding for military information technology programs being developed now and needed in the future.

With the biggest defense budget since the Reagan administration, the services can't keep asking for more money and instead "need to prioritize," said Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Kellogg Jr., director of command, control, communications and computers for DOD's Joint Chiefs of Staff (J-6), during a June 12 panel at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's TechNet International 2002 in Washington, D.C.

Lt. Gen. Peter Cuviello, the Army's chief information officer, agreed and said he believes that there was "more than enough money out there."

"We have to decide what we don't need" and cut programs or systems, Cuviello said. "We don't have to own it or run it for it to support us."

Navy Rear Adm. Nancy Brown, director of the space, information warfare, command and control division, said the armed services should continue to innovate and explore new IT solutions, but they need to "do it smarter." Next month, Brown will take over as vice director to Kellogg in the joint J-6 office.

Although he knows it's not a popular notion, Kellogg said the DOD should at least consider the option of centralizing all its IT dollars. "We should at least explore it."

The day before Kellogg, Brown and Cuviello expressed their views, a panel focused on network-centric warfare was asked if enough money was in the DOD budget to support that effort, which seeks to make data available to those who need it across the organization or on the battlefield. The panelists' answers differed from their colleagues.

Ronald Richard, a member of the business advisory board and former chief operating officer at In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture capital arm, said "wants outpace the needs" in many areas, including bandwidth. He said the intelligence and defense communities are not spending enough on network-centric warfare technologies and are having trouble finding more dollars.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles Croom Jr., the service's director of communications infostructure and deputy chief of staff for warfighting integration, said the DOD's "significant investment in IT" allows the military to restructure its forces and do more with less. But he added that if given more money than is needed, "we'll waste it."

Another panelist, Army Maj. Gen. Steven Boutelle, director of information operations, networks and space in the Army CIO's office, may have crystallized the situation when he said it is a problem of perception. He said the services are good at funding at the platform level but do a poor job of explaining the need for IT to the comptrollers who control the funds.

"We need to fix it or the perception will remain that we're underfunded," Boutelle said.

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