Panel gets opposing views on DOD's business transformation plans

The Senate Armed Services Committee on Feb. 7 heard an optimistic report on the Defense Department's business transformation programs from a deputy under secretary of Defense. However, Comptroller General David Walker pointed out problems with the programs.

Paul Brinkley, deputy under secretary of Defense for business transformation, praised DOD's Business Enterprise Architecture (BEA) and Enterprise Transition Plan (ETP), while Walker noted what is missing in the transformational elements.

The BEA, essentially a modernization blueprint, "has allowed us to establish clear benchmarks for the alignment of business systems to the department's future business environment," Brinkley said. "It has also allowed us to make important and measurable progress."

Walker said "DOD continues to update its business enterprise architecture," but added that the department "has not achieved the full intent of the legislative requirements"  for the programs.

Updates to the BEA "are not complete enough to effectively guide and constrain business system investments across all levels of DOD," Walker said.

Walker also criticized the Army's decision to invest $5 billion over the next several years in its General Fund Enterprise Business System, the Global Combat Support System-Army Field/Tactical, and the Logistics Modernization Program.

The service's approach "did not include alignment with an Army enterprise architecture," Walker said. The Army "runs the risk of investing significant resources in business systems that do not provide the desired functionality and efficiency," Walker added, unless the service updates its investment management approach to include a high-level, enterprise view of the capabilities being sought.

The ETP provides "internal and external stakeholders a comprehensive view of the systems and initiatives that will transform the largest business entity in the world," Brinkley said.

"The ETP reflects the strategic and tactical partnership between the enterprise and component levels by providing a big picture view of defense business transformation efforts at every level within the business mission area," he added.

However, Walker said the ETP does not "address DOD's complete portfolio of information technology investments" and "does not include system investment information for all the defense agencies and combatant commands."

Walker acknowledged that the department is trying to address problems with component coordination through a strategy to federate, or extend, its architecture to the military departments and defense agencies.

However, he added, "In our view, much remains to be accomplished before a well-defined federated architecture is in place."

About the Author

Peter Buxbaum is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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