Enterprise e-mail may be temporarily paused, but it still offers financial clarity and is pushing defense IT innovation, the deputy Army CIO said.
The Army’s enterprise e-mail program offers financial transparency that has long eluded Defense Department IT, according to Army Deputy CIO/G-6 Mike Krieger.
Although in the past it was difficult to determine exact spending, the new program, hosted by the Defense Information Systems Agency, is staying on track in terms of costs, allowing DOD officials to better account for money spent, he said. Krieger spoke Feb. 21 at the AFCEA Emerging Technologies Symposium in Washington.
In the past, “we really struggled figuring how much we were paying for e-mail. We had no idea. We guessed. We did some analytics and did some sampling and came up with the [cost] as somewhere between $150 to $190 per user, per year,” Krieger said. “Today, you can look at the President’s budget and see how much we’re paying DISA for e-mail.”
He didn’t offer a figure for the current projected costs for each user, but last year a DISA official estimated it to be roughly $52 per user, per year.
Krieger said the costs of enterprise e-mail match estimates given by DISA in a business-case analysis that has been submitted to Congress.
“The cost has not gone up on enterprise e-mail,” he said.
Account migration under enterprise e-mail is currently on hold pending a congressional review of an analysis mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), but is scheduled to restart around March 17, Krieger said.
The analysis, which has not been released, also contains a report on the use of competition in the enterprise e-mail program, as ordered in the NDAA.
Krieger said there has been significant competition in enterprise e-mail support services, but those contracts have been moved over to DISA and are no longer being handled by the Army.
He stressed the partnership between DISA and the Army as being integral to the success of enterprise e-mail, which has seen some problems since it first began the migration process last year.
“Enterprise e-mail is a fantastic government-to-government partnership. The Army couldn’t ask for a better partner,” Krieger said. “You can do things in government-to-government that you can’t do government-vendor. You can resolve problems differently.”
To date, more than 300,000 accounts have been migrated, with roughly 1.5 million expected to migrate eventually. Krieger did not give a completion date, but previous Army CIO/G-6 statements have estimated migration would finish in spring 2012. It’s not clear if that target is still on track given the latest freeze on the program’s activities. In the past migration has been halted to deal with technical issues.
For now, the Army is focusing on enterprise e-mail’s role as a driver for change across DOD.
Krieger said the program is acting as a forcing function to unify DOD communications beyond just e-mail.
“Enterprise e-mail has little to do with e-mail. It’s opened the door for future enterprise services. Everything in the Army is about joint solutions. There are no Army solutions,” Krieger said. “The service is called DOD enterprise e-mail; the Army’s the beta tester. That is the way DOD is going and everything the Army is doing is aligned with that.”
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