'Devastating' DMS Report Readied

The Defense Department's inspector general will soon release an audit report on the Defense Message System that at least one insider says could be "devastating" to the program.

DMS is designed to support secure communications worldwide, and despite some past cost and performance problems, the program is on schedule to replace the aging Automatic Digital Network (Autodin) when it is shut down Sept. 30, said John Stenbit, DOD chief information officer and assistant secretary of Defense for command, control, communications and intelligence.

But a former Air Force and electronics industry official familiar with both Autodin and DMS said the forthcoming audit report includes charges that the Defense Information Systems Agency, which oversees DMS, violated the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996, though the source would not provide specifics. DISA officials had seen a draft copy of the report, the now-retired official also said.

Officials from the IG's office confirmed that the audit exists and would be made publicly available within 90 days, according to a spokesman.

"The final DOD IG evaluation of the Defense Message System has not been released," according to a DISA official. "Comments related to the contents of the DOD IG inspection report on the Defense Message System cannot be addressed until a final report has been received by DISA."

Stenbit said he had no knowledge of the report, but did say that any time his office reviews a program, "multiple people" focus on ensuring it complies with Clinger-Cohen, which provides guidance on all aspects of developing and deploying major information technology systems.

Air Force Cyber Nightmares

The Air Force chief information officer wants the service's organizations to be held more accountable for the data available on their networks. The concept is part of John Gilligan's top five priorities for the Air Force's use and management of information technology.

The Air Force has a draft information management policy that will be presented "in the next couple [of] months" to the Air Force secretary and chief of staff, Gilligan told The Interceptor last week following an executive breakfast hosted by Input in Falls Church, Va. "It will formally charge organizations with data stewardship so they're accountable for what's on the network, its quality and timeliness."

Elsewhere, noting that the Air Force will have completed 90 percent of its consolidation efforts by the end of this fiscal year, Gilligan said he supports "capping" funds for common-use systems and programs throughout DOD. He said he believes there is enough funding in place now to do the job, but it must be reallocated to garner better efficiency.

In addition to information management, Gilligan said cybersecurity gives him "nightmares" because despite the Air Force's best software and tools, there is still much room for improvement, and he called on industry to help in that area by producing products that require fewer fixes.

Some people dream of falling, while others have cyber nightmares.

Army's New Command

The Army is establishing a command focused on "interdependent" research, development and engineering activities, as part of the military's effort to get technologies into soldiers' hands faster.

The Research, Development and Engineering (RD&E) Command was provisionally established in October 2002 and will officially launch this Oct. 1, said Maj. Gen. John Doesburg, commander of the Army's Soldier and Biological Chemical Command. He said he is the "transition team director" for the new command. His involvement after the official launch has not been determined.

The new command will tie together all of the service's research and development facilities, laboratories, training, and testing and evaluation commands.

The RD&E command is taking a "system of systems" approach, looking across all of the service's efforts in Army labs, with academia and industry, as well as at what is being done in the other military services, Doesburg said.

"We want to bring in the right minds to analyze the problem, and then go to the proper R&D center and say, 'Make us a prototype,' " he said. "Then, we bring those minds back together to make sure [it's] what we need, quickly test it, and if the soldier wants it, go into production."

The location of the new command's headquarters has not been determined, but the staff will eventually include about 150 people who rely on a virtual collaborative environment to communicate and make decisions, Doesburg said. He is already conducting executive sessions twice a week with senior leaders at the various RD&E organizations, and the command's staff is working on products supporting the war on terrorism.

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