Transformation driving DOD IT

Driven by Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's vision of transformation, the Defense Department's fiscal 2003 information technology budget is more than $26 billion and should grow steadily at 5 percent for the next five years, according to the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association (GEIA).

DOD's transformation activities affect "every nook and cranny of the services" and are the main driver of IT budget dollars, said Mike Kush, director of public-sector marketing for Identix Inc. and GEIA's DOD IT forecast chairman. He added that the DOD should be receiving an increasing amount of IT funding in the future, "but the percentage is not necessarily going up."

The Army and Navy's IT budgets are more than $5 billion each, the Air Force's is more than $6 billion and the rest of the Defense agencies' budgets combined total more than $9 billion, said Ken Kato, Air Force accounts director at Rockwell Collins Inc.

Speaking Oct. 30 at GEIA's annual budget forecast conference in Tysons Corner, Va., Kush said GEIA conducted more than 80 interviews with DOD, intelligence and Capitol Hill personnel in order to analyze the budget numbers, identify trends and suggest the best opportunities for industry to help.

Kush's forecast team outlined those areas for the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Defense Information Systems Agency and the intelligence community, and some common themes emerged, including demands for:

* More efficient bandwidth use.

* Wireless solutions with security.

* Interoperability, horizontal integration and data fusion.

* More Web-based capabilities.

The DOD and intelligence communities are also facing a shortage of skilled IT personnel, which will have an impact on future funding, according to GEIA's DOD IT forecast team.

Alan Blandamer, manager of business development at AT&T, said the intelligence community's overall IT budget is estimated to be about $30 billion, which includes the CIA's budget of $3 billion to $5 billion and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency's at about $1 billion. The National Security Agency will see a major increase, he said.

Blandamer said the development of standards with its industry partners is No. 1 on the intelligence community's wish list. Those agencies want to use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions, but with government off-the-shelf (GOTS) add-ins, he said.

"Security is the key" for vendors looking to help the DOD and intelligence community meet its IT needs, Kush said, adding that "pro-active, agile companies will win."

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