Lawmakers call for DOD CIO

Two congressmen recently urged Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to fill the Defense Department's chief information officer position quickly. They also recommended that he not merge the post with the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence.

"It has recently come to our attention that the department is considering merging the assistant secretary of Defense for networks and information integration position with the undersecretary of Defense for intelligence, and giving the undersecretary new CIO responsibilities. We believe this would not be the right course of action given the duties the undersecretary already holds for intelligence issues, and the enormous information technology challenges the department faces," said Rep. Jim Saxton, R-N.J., and Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass., in the Feb. 4 letter obtained by Federal Computer Week.

The two lawmakers, who serve on the House Armed Services Committee's Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities' Subcommittee, said the Pentagon needs a CIO knowledgeable of war-fighting and business IT policies and systems. "Given the difficulties the Department has experienced in controlling information technology systems and programs, a full-time CIO is of paramount importance," said Saxton and Meehan in the two-page letter.

The comment apparently refers to the maligned DOD business systems modernization program. Last month, officials at the General Accountability Office put the multibillion-dollar program on its biannual list as susceptible to waste, fraud and abuse for not establishing an effective structure for controlling business systems' investments.

Linton Wells II now serves as acting DOD CIO. He took over for John Stenbit, who retired from job last March.

Bush administration officials nominated Francis Harvey for DOD CIO position in November 2003, but withdrew his name for the post in September. They then nominated Harvey for secretary of the Army in November and the Senate confirmed the job later that month.

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