DOD drafting financial architecture

The Defense Department hopes to have the draft of its financial management architecture completed within three months, officials working on the project said.

The architecture is part of DOD's Herculean effort to clean up a financial mess. Auditors have said that the architecture is a critical first step toward fixing DOD's matrix of more than 1,000 financial management systems.

DOD in April awarded a contract valued at $100 million to IBM Corp. to develop the architecture.

Initial efforts have focused on DOD business practices and policies rather then on technology, said Betty Sandbeck, IBM's DOD financial management architecture project manager.

DOD has provided 76 people representing the department's business lines to advise the IBM team on the architecture's development, Sandbeck said. The DOD team will advise the development team about changes that are done as a result of legislative requirements as well as the feasibility of changes to business practices.

Once the draft of the architecture is completed, it will be implemented throughout DOD, she said.

DOD awarded the contract to IBM, but the pieces are being doled out as individual task orders under that contract. Tom Burlin, vice president of IBM Global Services' public-sector unit, said that DOD had awarded three tasks so far: one to establish the program office, one to look at DOD's "as is" environment and one to create a repository for the information that the project creates.

The initial stages of such an undertaking are critical, and Burlin said that they have gone very well.

DOD set an aggressive one-year timetable for completing the architecture, which is still feasible, Burlin said.

DOD, because of its size, is largely blamed for preventing the government from being able to balance its books.

Bill Lynn, former DOD comptroller, praised Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for making financial management a priority. While the private sector needs clean books so executives can determine if their company is making money, there are no such criteria within public-sector organizations. Instead, the focus of financial management improvements must be on the good data available to managers for decision-making, Lynn said.

Burlin and Lynn spoke at a forum at the Capitol this week sponsored by Fleishman-Hillard, a communications consulting firm.

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, 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,, 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, 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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