Air Force CIO maneuvers

The Interceptors found it odd that the Air Force was so sensitive about referring to Lt. Gen. William "Tom" Hobbins as the service's acting chief information officer. In May, Hobbins was named director of the Air Force's new information technology organization, the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Chief of Warfighting Integration and Chief Information Officer (SAF/XC).

We were careful to say Hobbins assumed the duties as director of SAF/XC per Air Force officials' wishes. He still needed confirmation from the Senate for the new job, but that seemed to be a formality because of his stellar work as deputy chief of staff for warfighting integration, the service's top warfighting IT position.

So we asked Air Force officials last month if Hobbins' name might not be sent to the Senate this summer for confirmation for SAF/XC director or if he could get nominated for another position. The reply to both questions: "Yes."

Our hunch proved true because Air Force officials confirmed last week that President Bush nominated Maj. Gen. Michael Peterson, a top service IT official at U.S. Strategic Command, for his third star and director of SAF/XC.

Peterson was suppose to take over for Maj. Gen. Charles Croom, director of information, services and integration in the Air Force's new IT office. Croom becomes the military's top cyberwarrior next month. We're told Croom will continue to hold that job until the Senate confirms him for SAF/XC director.

The buzz now focuses on Hobbins' next assignment. The Air Force's vice chief of staff job is open because Gen. T. Michael "Buzz" Moseley will become chief of staff, replacing Gen. John Jumper.

Is it time for the Pentagon to put an IT official in the Air Force's co-pilot seat?

Intell for Army IT brass

Not all of the Army's IT workers loathe the service's enterprise consolidation initiative planned for next year. Most of them we spoke to at the Army IT Conference earlier this month in Las Vegas supported it.

"We understand that the Army and the government cannot afford to have servers, circuits and people at every installation," said George Becker, director of the Directorate of Information Management at Fort Riley, Kan. "It makes good business sense to consolidate."

However, changing the mind-sets of possessive Army IT workers will take time. "It's a culture thing," Becker said, explaining that base commanders and employees "like to reach out and touch people" who operate their networks.

The solution to the enterprise dilemma is for the Army's IT leaders to provide better services through the initiative than now offered by IT workers. "It needs to be better, not equal," Becker said. "We need to move forward."

Backwards on data sharing

Just when the United States started making progress sharing top-secret data with U.K. and Australian forces in the war on terrorism, House appropriators slashed more than $10 million from the Multinational Information Sharing initiative in the fiscal 2006 budget.

The new program facilitates an enterprise network standard for the exchange of classified information with foreign nations. Here's their cockamamie reason for the $11.6 million cut in the bill passed June 21: "The recommendation defers a portion of funding for this new start due to lack of justification and the uncertain organization and schedule for the development effort."

Back to "bama

One of the Interceptors' new spies at Gunter Annex, Ala., tells us Frank Weber will soon meet again with Air Force IT workers in the Operations and Sustainment Systems Group and the Engineering and Integration Systems Squadron — the old headquarters Standard Systems Group — to discuss moving 1,250 jobs from Montgomery, Ala., to Boston under the Pentagon's base realignment and closing plan.

Weber, director of the Air Force's new Operations Support Systems Wing, which oversees procurement for the service's business and combat support IT systems from Beantown, promised in May he would return with more answers after tap-dancing around questions from the rank-and-file at the Montgomery IT conference.

Workers and industry officials, whose lives have been turned upside down by the plan, were gracious and showed Weber some Southern hospitality at the soiree at the end of the first day of the show. We trust he'll leave his tap shoes in Boston. If he doesn't have answers, he'd better bring his running shoes.

Valium for vendors

Army vendors are admittedly anxious this month about the service's plans to award contracts for the Army Knowledge Online Enterprise Services and the General Fund Enterprise Business System programs in late June, which are worth about $1.6 billion.

"It will either be a good month or a bad month," one industry official said. n

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