Army plans for satellites, knowledge site

The Army is developing its defense plan for the future, and it will include funding for a new commercial satellite communications program and Army Knowledge Online (AKO), according to the service's top civilian information technology official.

The service's 2005-2009 Program Objective Memorandum, due later this fall, will budget for the new communications acquisition initiative because the Army buys commercial satellite time ad hoc and warfighters increasingly need bandwidth. It also includes a first-ever line item for the popular, 2-year-old AKO, said Dave Borland, the Army's deputy chief information officer, speaking today at a Federal Sources Inc. breakfast meeting. AKO is currently funded by money taken from other areas.

"When requirements come along, we go find money," Borland said, adding that the Army can better manage IT dollars by knowing where it spends them, he said.

The Army's 2005 tech budget is $5.7 billion, a 1.8 percent increase from its $5.6 billion in 2004. The Defense Department's 2005 tech budget is $28.2 billion, a 1.1 percent increase from its $27.9 billion in 2004, according to a Federal Sources forecast.

Borland's Army memo admissions follow a departmentwide strategy in 2005 to better communicate how it spends IT dollars. Under pressure to provide lawmakers with better information on technology spending, the department will break its IT budget into two categories: warfighting and business, Defense Department CIO John Stenbit said in an Aug. 25 interview.

Department officials have a difficult time explaining and justifying how IT funds are spent each year, according to a House Armed Services Committee report released May 16 on the fiscal 2004 National Defense Authorization Act.

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