DOD creates new office to manage business systems

The Defense Department’s chaotic business system programs now have a new boss.

Earlier this month, DOD established the Business Transformation Agency to centrally manage 18 of its largest departmentwide business programs. In add- ition, BTA will oversee and provide guidance to more than 4,000 business systems managed by the services or Defense agencies.

“This is the right thing to do. It became clear this direction was the best, most consistent with unifying the leadership of the program,” said Paul A. Brinkley, deputy undersecretary of Defense for business transformation. “This agency creates a point of accountability.”

Brinkley and Thomas Modly, the deputy undersecretary of Defense for financial management, will jointly serve as director of BTA until a director is named sometime within the next year.

DOD folded the Business Management Modernization Program office, which was responsible for integrating the department’s business systems, into the BTA structure, Brinkley said.

What senior Defense officials were aiming for was a centralized management structure that could take ownership of DOD’s business and financial systems, including the Defense Travel System, the Standard Procurement System, the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System and the Defense Cash Accountability System.

Some of the current program managers for the 18 initial systems constituting BTA will move into the Pentagon offices of the new organization; others will stay with their military agencies.

“The goal is not to disrupt programs,” said Brinkley. “The goal of the agency is to deliver on schedule the transformation that’s exhibited in the Enterprise Transition Plan.”

In late September, the department’s BMMP office unveiled Version 3.0 of its business enterprise architecture. The BEA includes a transition plan for six Defense agencies: the departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force; the Defense Logistics Agency; Defense Finance and Accounting Service; and Transportation Command. It also outlines a new process for senior Defense officials to evaluate IT systems for compliance with the architecture and includes a plan to centralize funding for DOD-level systems.

Within the past year, BMMP has taken heat from frustrated legislators, who included a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2005 that senior Defense leaders must carefully review all business systems worth $1 million or more to ensure compliance with the BEA.

And as recently as this summer, the Government Accountability Office found redundant systems, little standardization, manual data entry into multiple systems and a total lack of involvement by senior management, concluding that DOD’s enterprise architecture is “incomplete, inconsistent and not integrated.”

But that’s all about to change under the new organizational structure, Brinkley said. Gordon England, acting deputy secretary of Defense, will hold monthly meetings with the BTA director to get updates on the business systems, and Congress will have a single agency, and point of contact, to quickly answer any inquiries.

BTA will be responsible for “business process re-engineering, core business mission activities and Investment Review Board matters as determined, and revised by the DBSMC,” England said in a memo. “The BTA shall also ensure consistency and continuity across the core business missions of the department.”

Dov Zakheim, former Defense comptroller, said the new agency will help the department transform its business processes. He added that the BTA goes beyond BMMP in that it provides senior-level oversight on some of the department’s largest business programs.

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