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House Panel Slashes Defense IT Budget

The Department of Defense's (DOD) $28 billion fiscal 2004 IT budget number hit a funding stumbling block Friday when a House Armed Services subcommittee voted to cut $2 billion from the request. Rep. Jim Saxton (R.-N.J.), chairman of the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities subcommittee, said the panel was concerned about how well the DOD was managing its IT plans, programs and processes.

Although the subcommittee is primarily responsible for the DOD's counter proliferation and counter terrorism programs and initiatives, it also has oversight authority for defense-related information technology policy and programs. The full Armed Services committee is expected to vote on the funding cuts this week.

"Technology changes and evolves rapidly and its integration is equally complex, thereby raising concerns that if IT programs and investments are not wisely planned with sound best practices coupled with an investment strategy, they are doomed to fail with costs of billions of dollars," Saxton said last month. "This is a critical issue for DOD because its past investments have met with only limited success."

Saxton called the funding request a "sizable amount" and that in the past the DOD has not always properly managed its IT investments.

"The subcommittee is concerned that one reason for this lack of success may be attributed to the fact that DOD does not have a corporate blueprint or enterprise architecture to guide and constrain its IT investments in a manner that promotes interoperability and minimizes duplication and overlap," Saxton said.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has stated on multiple occasions that IT is the enabler behind the defense transformation.

The General Accounting Office (GAO) has recommended that the DOD develop an enterprise architecture and the investment management controls for effectively implementing the architecture. GAO also recommends that DOD should limit its IT investments to four areas: (1.) deployment of systems that involve no additional development or acquisition cost; (2.) stay-in-business maintenance needed to keep existing systems operational; (3.) management controls needed to effectively invest in modernized systems; and (4.) new systems or existing system changes that are congressionally directed or are relatively small, cost-effective, and low risk.

"What is needed today is the ability to leverage the technology to ensure its operational capability in both a business and war-fighting environment," Saxton said. "While the subcommittee recognizes the critical efforts and difficulty of IT modernization, concerns have been raised that there is not sufficient oversight and administration at the Department nor at the service CIO levels to achieve the objectives contained in the Departments enterprise architecture.

DOD is now developing a department wide enterprise architecture that encompasses seven functional areas: (1.) accounting; (2.) collection, accounts receivable, and cash management; (3.) financial and management reporting; (4.) human capital management; (5.) logistics; (6.) procurement, payables, acquisition, and disbursement; and (7.) strategic planning and budgeting.