DOD leaning more heavily on data standards

The key to business transformation in the Defense Department is the adoption of data standards, as aptly demonstrated by the military logistics community.

That is what Paul Brinkley, undersecretary of Defense for business transformation, told the Defense Logistics 2007 conference in Washington Nov. 27.

Where military logistics has excelled is in the adoption of radio frequency identification data standards.

“In last year, there has been a 65 percent increase in the number transactions supporting RFID and supply chain visibility,” Brinkley said. “There has been a 60 percent increase in the budget allocated to data standardization.”

The budget increase has come from savings from other programs that were designed to drive uniform work processes down through the department.

The development of uniform processes has since been discredited.

“The joint warfighting community isn’t required to adopt the same piece of software or one single enterprise planning resource system,” Brinkley said. “People won't agree to work the same way, but they will agree on data standards.”

The logistics community’s adoption of RFID data standards leads the way for the rest of the department’s business transformation, Brinkley said.

“The key is not to drive how people do their work but how they define their data,” he added.

This approach also allows operational units, as opposed to central headquarters, greater control over their work processes.

Brinkley is seeking to galvanize increased departmentwide adoption of data standards with a detailed transition plan that includes six-month milestones. The department achieved 80 percent of its previous set of milestones.

“The worst thing is to achieve 100 percent of your milestones,” Brinkley said. “You want people to stretch.”

Peter Buxbaum is a freelancer writer in Bethesda, Md.

About the Author

Peter Buxbaum is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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