BRAC opens IT opportunities for Army

The Army's chief information officer has launched four initiatives to change the structure of the service's IT environment and help accelerate some moves under the Base Realignment and Closure program.

The Army wants to consolidate IT services, develop a single directorate of information management concept, move to a thin-client architecture and adopt wireless technologies, said Gary Winkler, principal director for governance, acquisition and the chief knowledge officer of the Army CIO.

Speaking Jan. 19 at a Washington conference sponsored by the Information Technology Association of America, Winkler discussed the numerous base closings around the country and talked with industry and government executives about how the closings will affect IT.

"Our objective with BRAC is to take advantage of the moves to recapitalize on IT and synchronize it with the rest of the services in the Defense Department," he said.

Lt. Gen. Steven Boutelle, the Army's CIO, has discussed the initiatives with the Secretary of the Army, Winkler said. The objective is to "provide equal or better IT services at the lowest cost," he said.

For the first initiative, the Army is reducing the 200 exit and entry points to its network to six continental U. S. exit and entry points. It also wants to trim e-mail servers from between 3,000 and 10,000 to 800.

Second, the Army will implement a single directorate of information management initiative at each installation, by consolidating desktop support services under one organization and putting one person in charge of IT operations, Winkler said.

Third, the Army will implement a thin-client architecture in which computers in a network will depend on a central server instead of an internal hard drive for processing. The bulk of the data processing occurs on the server.

The Army budget office is "not going to let people spend operations mission money or IT money on buying more computers," Winkler said. "It's becoming commoditized."

For the wireless initiative, the Army first will have to ensure that the necessary security is in place, Winkler said.

Also, users must have the necessary bandwidth to perform major Army operations in a wireless environment, Winkler said.

"We've got to have uninterrupted service during the BRAC moves, and we've got to support the network: storage, applications processing, e-mail accounts," Winkler said. "We must have the same or better services than we have today."

Staff Writer Roseanne Gerin can be reached at rgerin@postnewsweektech.com.

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