Defense IT: Preparing for the worst and other survival strategies in 2012

“We have to set and enforce our priorities,” he said. “We’ve done the hard work with that part, and now we have to stick to them as funding gets cut.” Lennox said his office has coordinated with other agencies to get a view of requirements and capabilities across the Army so officials can modernize, integrate activities and avoid duplicating efforts. In some cases, that means working with other services to share costs — as was the case when the Army partnered with the Air Force on the C-27J cargo plane and with the Navy on joint high-speed vessels. The military must manage procurement at the pace of modernization, rather than fielding trucks, for example, to the whole Army because by the time the last one goes out, a new one is already needed, Lennox said.

2011 concluded with a lot of uncertainty about Defense Department spending, and we can expect 2012 to be a rocky ride. The failure of the congressional supercommittee to identify $1.2 trillion in budget cuts triggered, at least in theory, the sequestration process that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned would be a “doomsday” scenario.

Those cuts won’t go into effect until 2013, but they pile on top of $450 billion in spending reductions already under way at DOD, greatly exacerbating the existing budget pressure.

Predictions range from the cuts being palatable to catastrophic. One thing is certain, though: This won’t be the same kind of budgetary drawdown that followed past wars.

“The last time defense spending was reduced, everything was different,” said Dan Goure, vice president of the Lexington Institute. “There were fewer threats, the year-to-year budget declines were much more modest, and the reductions came after significant increases in acquisition. That’s not the case now.”

It’s critical to get the best plans and policies in place now for training and modernization while keeping future austerity in mind, said Lt. Gen. Robert Lennox, the Army’s deputy chief of staff.

“Not only do we have to get it right today, but we have to get it right tomorrow,” Lennox said. “And traditionally we don’t get it right tomorrow. So in a budget-constrained environment, how do you make sure you have a modernized Army? It can be smaller, but it has to be equipped and it has to be trained.”

Lennox outlined what he called seven key commandments that could help the Army weather the painful budget cuts to come, which could serve as guidelines for the broader DOD community as well. They are:

Prioritizing.

Revalidating and adjusting requirements. In the case of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, requirements were tweaked several times to avoid requirements creep and establish the most efficient program. “It’s been eight or nine months of hard work and asking tough questions in order to bring down the costs,” Lennox said. “Now we’ve got a program that’s the way ahead.”

Taking a holistic approach.

Focusing on affordability. “Affordability should be the independent variable,” he said. Costs should be part of the portfolio and the grounds for fully auditing any program.

Eliminating redundancies and inefficiencies.

Taking advantage of commercial offerings. Mature commercial technologies can be quickly fielded and replaced — and they can save money.

Using incremental procurement.

However, it’s not all bad news. Analysts say federal IT spending remains in good shape, and considering DOD’s still-sizable budget, it’s safe to predict that defense IT will face less of a drop-off in funding than other areas that might fall victim to the budget ax.

“We’re not seeing the same growth as earlier in the decade, but there’s still a lot of money being spent in new ways, and there are still opportunities,” said Brian Haney, senior vice president of member services at Deltek. “It’s about innovation. IT spending is outpacing other segments because it’s being looked at as an enabler. [Defense IT] is not a sky-is-falling type of market.”

Enterprise services

As DOD looks for ways to save money, enterprisewide IT services are becoming increasingly attractive.

The Defense Information Systems Agency has already taken a leadership role through various efforts, such as hosting the Army’s ambitious (though embattled) enterprise e-mail program that will eventually consolidate more than 1 million e-mail accounts and programs currently housed in various servers, enclaves and installations across the Army.

DISA is also slated to act as an access point for other DOD enterprise services, such as internal file sharing and a DOD marketplace for mobile applications and widgets. Furthermore, under a new “DISA first” strategy, the agency will be the go-to provider for IT infrastructure as DOD shuts down and consolidates thousands of its data centers.

Don’t expect the enterprise services juggernaut to slow anytime soon, though. DOD CIO Teri Takai recently released an aggressive, 48-page road map for consolidating IT services across the department, effective immediately. Among other things, the plan calls for dramatically consolidating business systems across the department and reducing the costs associated with managing the systems and their data. At present, DOD has an inventory of nearly 3,000 systems, which cost close to $7 billion annually to maintain.

Other targets include identity and access management, voice- and video-over-IP networks, and help desks.

Cyber defense collaboration

Cyber warfare picks up speed every year, and 2012 will be no different. The U.S. Cyber Command and its Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy components have all launched relevant operations. And sources say they can expect to be even busier in 2012 as partnerships among cyber adversaries evolve their own techniques and technologies.

The military is well into its efforts to train forces to operate in cyberspace, and in the next year, those programs will continue to grow as demand for their graduates skyrockets.

In 2012, look for increased collaboration between DOD and the private sector. Before stepping down as deputy defense secretary, William Lynn outlined the Defense Industrial Base Cyber Pilot program, which is bringing together military and industry leaders to share knowledge and best practices in fighting cyber threats.

That collaboration between the military and the private sector is critical given that more than 90 percent of military communications infrastructure, platforms and programs are built on commercial software and networked devices.

ISR investments

DOD’s efforts in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance were recently dealt a blow with Iran’s proclaimed capture of an RQ-170 Sentinel drone, just one in the military’s arsenal of unmanned aerial systems. But don’t expect that incident to stem investment in ISR capabilities.

Intelligence community leaders have said they expect to be subject to budget cuts as much as other agencies. But given the wealth of threats facing the United States and ISR’s agility versus old major weapons systems, investment in unmanned aircraft and other ISR technologies will continue in 2012, with billions budgeted for research, development and deployment.

A quick look at the fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act shows at least $13 billion in ISR-related funding, but significantly more could be spent. According to the Government Accountability Office, ISR spending is not necessarily transparent due to its complex management and poor oversight.

ISR money is divided among a number of agencies and programs, including the Military Intelligence Program, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and various intelligence components within the military services. All of those and others have been allocated ISR funding for fiscal 2012.

Going green

As the Pentagon seeks ways to save money, energy efficiency is looking increasingly attractive. Numerous efforts are under way as services, agencies and offices implement programs that take aim at energy consumption.

One of the most prominent examples is the massive data center consolidation effort, which Takai said in November had exceeded initial goals with the shutdown of 59 data centers expected by the end of 2011. According to a recent report, DOD will save $58 million in energy costs per year because of the closures.

DOD’s website touts a number of efforts to “go green.” They include the development and use of biofuels, investments in solar and wind power, implementation of energy conservation programs, and strategic partnerships with the Environmental Protection Agency and others.

The military’s interest in energy efficiency has jumped in the past year, with more efforts popping up every month. Most of the programs are fairly new, but if they prove to be true money-savers, we can expect energy efficiency to be a good-news trend that takes off in 2012.

Read about gov 2.0 in 2012 or more forecasts for government IT.

NEXT STORY: Blue Button ready for all feds

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.