BRAC recommends merging some IT operations

"Arrangements pretty much designed for the Cold War must give way to the new demands of war against extremists and other evolving 21st century challenges." | Donald Rumsfeld

Olivier Douliery

The Defense Department is trying to use its latest round of recommended base closures and realignments to consolidate operations and support Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's transformation goals.

In May, the Defense Department released recommendations to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, and for the first time included suggestions to consolidate around functional areas including technology, intelligence, education and training.

Among the recommendations to close 33 bases and realign 29 others, is a DOD plan to reduce from 18 to seven the number of Air Force and Naval centers that provide command, control, communications and computers, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.

In all, the Defense Department would lose more than 29,000 civilian and military positions, and Rumsfeld said it expects to save about $48.8 billion over 20 years. The four previous BRAC rounds were in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995.

Along with the functional areas, the Pentagon proposed closing the Army base in Fort Monmouth, N.J., which houses several technical programs.

Additionally, the Defense Department would consolidate 21 Defense Finance and Accounting Service facilities to three large centers and realign two others.

A BRAC commission of eight members, led by former Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi, will review the suggestions and make its own recommendations to President Bush by Sept. 8. Bush then will have until Sept. 23 to accept or reject the recommendations in their entirety.

If accepted, Congress will have 45 legislative days to reject the recommendations in their entirety or they become binding for the Pentagon. The past three commissions have changed about 15 percent of the Defense Department's suggestions.

"The Department of Defense again is in need of change and adjustment," Rumsfeld said. "Current arrangements pretty much designed for the Cold War must give way to the new demands of war against extremists and other evolving 21st century challenges."

The challenges include reorganizing how DOD performs similar functions. Defense officials looked at seven cross-service areas and made recommendations to improve coordination and collaboration between and among the services.

"These Joint Cross-Service Groups were key," said Michael Wynne, defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics. "They each were chaired by a senior executive or flag officer, with representation from each of the military services, from the Joint Staff and from the relevant defense agencies involved."

Consolidating the cross-service areas would give Defense Department a common battlespace awareness capability with a joint program management office, as well as research, development and acquisition, and test and evaluation domain centers for land, maritime, air and space, the report said.

"If the point was to focus on centers of excellence in particular research or warfare areas, that is a good thing," said Ken Beeks, vice president for policy of the Business Executives for National Security. "I can't say to what extent they are addressing mission overlap or over capacity in terms of infrastructure, but that would be the idea behind these moves."

Jason Miller is a senior writer with Government Computer News. He can be reached at jmiller@postnewsweektech.com.

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