Budget request supports future DOD warfighting plans

$30.5 billion proposed for business and force transformation

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 3:10 p.m. Feb. 13, 2006, to reflect that the Defense Department, not the Army, may shift funds from financial and personnel systems to battlefield systems by the time the military budget is completed next month.

The Defense Department envisions a future with a highly mobile, lightweight force that relies on information systems to interconnect a variety of communications systems that constitute the Global Information Grid, according to documents released last week.

The proposed 2007 Defense budget and the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) plan for a network-centric warfare environment that uses information as an asset and transforms the fighting force for the 21st century.

The QDR and 2007 budget envision a radical change in DOD business and acquisition practices, parting from “a service-centric approach [that] will give way increasingly to joint capability portfolios,” said Gordon England, DOD’s deputy secretary, in a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies earlier this month. The QDR views information as an asset “to be shared and as a weapon system to be protected,” which emphasizes the importance of “speed, agility, precision and lethality,” England said.

Budgeting for business and fighting force transformation has created confusion on how to divide the proposed $30.5 billion DOD IT budget, said an official in the DOD chief information officer’s office familiar with the budget process.

The 2007 budget documents state that the new Defense Business Transformation Agency will develop enterprisewide business processes and use IT to increase DOD asset visibility and eliminate organizational barriers to efficiency.

The Army, for example, has strongly embraced business transformation, and the service plans to spend $2.4 billion on financial and personnel systems in 2007. So has DOD, but it may shift some of those funds back to battlefield systems by the time the overall military IT budget is completed next month, the official said.

Defense industry sources say they are confused because some of the communications systems cited by the QDR as critical to treating information as a weapon system are behind schedule and over budget.

Those systems include the troubled Joint Tactical Radio System, hit with stop-work orders last year, and the Transformational Satellite (TSAT) project now in “spiral development due to technology challenges, including laser satellite cross-links,” according to QDR. The 2007 budget asks for about $950 million for JTRS and $867 million for TSAT.

“The military will need to continue to rely on commercial solutions, which are not 100 percent but very capable, until TSAT and JTRS are ready,” said Dan Heinemeier president of the Government Electronics and IT Association, which forecasts the DOD budget annually.

“The QDR and the 2007 budget are a little puzzling,” said Ray Bjorklund, vice president and chief knowledge officer at Federal Sources, adding that the DOD IT picture will become clearer when the IT budget details are available in March.

But Bjorklund said global communications and business transformation are points of emphasis in the QDR and 2007 budget request. He said competition will be stiff for the $30.5 billion requested in DOD IT spending, and vendors must show discipline in bidding on those contracts and meeting expectations on the contracts they win.

On the logistics side, President Bush’s budget request emphasized the importance of radio frequency identification technology to track supplies, stating that by the end of 2007, RFID will be operative throughout the supply chain.

Combating bioterrorist threats and pandemic viruses are priorities of the QDR, and DOD plans to enact a $1.5 billion, five-year project to develop medical countermeasures and advanced detection and deterrent systems.

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