Gilligan to DHS?

Air Force chief information officer John Gilligan dismissed rumors circulating last week at the Government CIO Summit in Florida and the Montgomery Information Technology Summit in Alabama that he's leaving the service for a position at the Homeland Security Department.

"There's no plan to leave the Air Force," Gilligan said. "There's no deal to go to DHS. The rumors are not true."

But the Transportation Security Administration's CIO job at DHS is opening up with the departure of Patrick Schambach May 31.

Gilligan left the Air Force in the late 1990s to take the Energy Department's CIO post and clean up the information assurance mess at agency laboratories. He successfully established an enterprisewide computer security plan and returned to the Air Force early this decade.

However, DHS most resembles a military environment in the civilian government and that possibly could be an attraction to Gilligan somewhere down the road.

Big resellers bitter

Big resellers don't like the Air Force's new desktop, laptop and server purchasing strategy issued in January.

According to the policy, service officials prefer to buy hardware from four big manufacturers — Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Gateway Inc. and MPC Computers LLC — and two small resellers, to be determined this summer. This leaves big resellers, such as CDW Government Inc., out of the picture.

"Someone always gets left out," said an official on the Air Force's IT Commodity Council, which formulated the new policy.

Service leaders want to review vendors' performance annually instead of issuing blanket purchase agreements that typically last for five years. But the service can change the policy if it does not work, according to the official.

Another Air Force council

Following the success of the IT Commodity Council, Air Force officials have decided to create a Standards Council.

Started last July, the IT Commodity Council studies and recommends policies for identifying standards and buying hardware and software. The Standards Council will further refine standards across the Air Force.

GIG-BE Octoberfest

The Defense Information Systems Agency will test equipment this month for the Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion program at four military installations across the country.

But the first big GIG-BE system implementation will occur in October, said Dawn Meyerriecks, DISA's chief technology officer and manager of the GIG Enterprise Services portfolio.

DISA cancelled a December party for the Defense Message System rollout, so maybe agency officials will consider an Octoberfest celebration for the first GIG-BE installation.

Mongers of fear

The Defense Department's wireless policy is sure to cause consternation as the various commands determine how best to implement it. Pentagon officials have 180 days from the April release date to report on their implementation policies and timelines.

But several industry experts think it could take far longer than that, and even then the policy could be a shell of what its creators intended. Even officials within DOD think there will be more resistance to the policy than has been anticipated.

"If we aren't using wireless in a smart way, we'll be the only ones who aren't. There are a lot of fearmongers out there," said Capt. Sheila McCoy, team leader for information assurance with the Navy Department's chief information officer, speaking at AFCEA International's TechNet International 2004 conference earlier this month.

Little did McCoy realize that one of those mongers of fear was sitting right next to her.

Navy Cmdr. Laurie Boehm, chief information assurance engineer at DISA, laughed off the title of fearmonger, but she said she worries about DOD's wireless security.

"I'm not a fearmonger per se," she said. "But I am more cautious and advocate a more cautious approach."

Will wireless advocates and fearmongers within DOD pull so hard in opposite directions that they stall the department's foray into this technology?

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