Officials ponder DMS' future

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Defense Department information technology officials are conducting an "open, senior-level dialogue" about the Defense Message System, a senior Pentagon official said. Those talks could open the door to other messaging systems rather than mandating Defense agencies use DMS.

There are certain areas, especially in military operations, where "DMS has let us down in its present version," said Owen Wormser, principal director for spectrum, space, sensors and command, control and communications in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (C3I).

"There are those that are...saying [DMS] is not the environment of the 21st century," he said during an Aug. 8 breakfast with industry representatives sponsored by Input, a Chantilly, Va.-based market research firm. Some people are pushing for the ability to do chat rooms, secure e-mail, or secure Extensible Markup Language via browsers.

DMS is the secure messaging system that is replacing DOD's Automatic Digital Network, commonly known as Autodin.

Those people are saying that DOD should move away from DMS' structured directories.

Wormser stressed that it is unlikely that DOD will ever kill the multimillion-dollar DMS.

"I don't think you will see a clear decision," he said. "I think what you will see is an opening of the door that says, 'Why do I keep doing DMS?'"

Therefore, DMS' advocates have to come forward and address user concerns such as undelivered messages, he said.

"The opening of the door is important. We haven't had a open, senior-level dialogue about what we are doing in a long time," he said. The discussions should be a "comprehensive dialogue about what are we doing, why are we doing it, how much are we spending, does it add value, what performance metrics are we using. — That will have to take place."

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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