DOD asked to look at centralizing IT

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, wants to know if centralized information technology spending in the Defense Department would solve its data sharing and system interoperability problems.

Levin asked John Grimes, the nominee to be the DOD chief information officer, to submit a report to the committee within 90 days of his confirmation as the military’s top IT official. The report will focus on whether the DOD CIO should have more power over the services’ IT budgets.

Levin said IT spending is one of the fastest growing parts of the DOD budget, but it is not centralized and there are constant references to technical difficulties with military systems.

Grimes said that each service prepares its own IT budget, but DOD has standards in place to ensure interoperability. He agreed to send the committee the report after his confirmation.

President Bush requested that $30.1 billion of DOD’s $419.3 billion budget for fiscal 2006 go to IT spending. The budget request included $10.7 billion for defense agencies, $7.1 billion for the Air Force, $6.2 billion for the Navy and $6.1 billion for the Army.

The committee held a hearing July 28 to consider the nomination of Grimes to head the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration and Chief Information Officer. Last month, Bush nominated Grimes, a Raytheon Co. executive with almost 50 years of experience in IT in the military and industry, to succeed Linton Wells.

Wells has been the acting DOD CIO since early 2004. He took over for John Stenbit, who retired after serving four years in the post.

Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), committee chairman, told Grimes that the Senate would likely vote on his nomination prior to its August recess.

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