Order from Chaos

The Pentagon is set to release the final blueprint for transforming its <@SM>business and financial systems. Are you ready for the opportunity?<@VM>Breaking down BMMP

Nowhere to hide

The BMMP modernization effort touches:

  • 5.4 million employees, service members and beneficiaries

  • $400 billion-plus in annual spending

  • $700 billion-plus in assets

  • 600,000 buildings at 6,000 locations in 146 countries

  • 1,312 major weapons systems

  • 150-plus federal source laws and regulations

Ricke Steele

"This transformation is the most complex and most significant in scale of any enterprise that has undertaken transformation." ? Linda Marshall, IBM Corp.

Rick Steele

Designed to have thousands of systems run on it, the Defense Department's new enterprise architecture will usher in what some people are calling the biggest IT transition ever done.

The effort, called the Business Management Modernization Program (BMMP), is close to a crucial stage for any systems integrator, vendor or company that provides or works on information technology systems for the Defense Department.

In March, the final version ? 2.4 ? of the new architecture and the transition plan are scheduled for release, said officials at IBM Corp., the company designing the architecture. When it is released, every business system at the Defense Department ? more than 4,000 of them ? will have to comply with the new architecture.

"This transformation is the most complex and most significant in scale of any enterprise that has undertaken transformation," said Linda Marshall, the IBM partner responsible for BMMP.

To date, the Defense Department has spent about $300 million on the BMMP effort, Pentagon officials said. The total Defense Department business systems IT budget is $5.2 billion for fiscal 2005 to operate, maintain and modernize its business systems.

The investment in BMMP likely will be a boon for contractors, said Ray Bjorklund, senior vice president at Federal Sources Inc., a market research firm in McLean, Va.

"Figuring out how to organize and migrate the legacy systems is a formidable challenge," Bjorklund said. "There is a lot of work to be done, so contractors will likely benefit from that."

BMMP's objective is to streamline the Defense Department's business and financial management processes, agency officials said. One of the first ways the department plans to test the interoperability of the systems is to generate a clean financial audit opinion, something that was impossible under the old system, which had at least 5,500 separate and incompatible financial and inventory management systems.

Pentagon accountants had trouble reporting accurately the cost of transactions because business systems vary from base to base. For example, one base might call a bolt "a bolt," while another base may call a bolt "a connecting device." Consequently, the Defense Department would have no way to determine how much it actually spends on bolts.

BMMP is designed to eliminate that kind of incompatibility. "The architecture is defining the benchmark for how systems should behave," Marshall said.

This means every business solution at the Pentagon will have to be reviewed. Some systems will meet the new requirements, others will need to be upgraded, and some will be retired or replaced. For systems that need to be replaced, that could mean developing new systems or buying commercial solutions.

A case in point is the integrated, joint payroll and human resources system, called the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System. The DIMHRS project pre-dates BMMP but is closely aligned with the project, said Doug McVicar, DIMHRS program director for Northrop Grumman Corp.

DIMHRS requirements have evolved over time, and many of those revisions have been to meet the BMMP standards, he said.

McVicar said systems integrators should not fear that BMMP will create requirements completely unknown to IT professionals.

"A lot of the standards are things we would have been doing anyway," he said. For example, the security standard for the Defense Department Information Technology Security Certification and Accreditation Process was going to be done under DIMHRS anyway, and now it's a BMMP standard, he said.

It will be important to keep in mind the BMMP objectives of defining a common set of business objects, business functions and data objects when working on a Defense Department business system, McVicar said.

Pay garnishment is an example of a function crossing agency boundaries under DIMHRS. If a military member's pay is garnished to meet a court order, under DIMHRS and BMMP it is a common object that can be recognized by the payroll system and by the agency that is collecting the funds.

Every contractor working on Pentagon business systems will face the same challenges in bringing those systems into compliance with BMMP standards and requirements.

Still, McVicar regards BMMP as a boon rather than burden for integrators.

"We believe the business opportunity is in systems consolidation and transition. There's going to be business generated from this initiative to help the Defense Department meet the objectives of BMMP," he said. "But in the long run we believe the Defense Department is going to save a lot of money by implementing it."

Among those companies that plan to go after BMMP-related business is IBM Corp., the designer of the architecture.

"IBM wants to participate in implementations to the degree that the Defense Department decides it needs to make systems changes," Marshall said.

Consequently, as IBM helps develop the BMMP architecture, the company is being careful not to create conflicts that would keep it from competing for implementation projects, she said.

For example, because all the documents and information on the BMMP project are publicly available, the playing field is even for all contractors, IBM officials said. Information can be found at the project's Web site (www.dod.mil/comptroller/bmmp/


For contractors and systems integrators hoping to land business connected to the BMMP transition, the process of working with the Defense Department is not expected to change much.

[IMGCAP(2)]"The best way to prepare is to stay actively involved in the acquisitions process," Marshall said. "As things evolve, I know each of the acquisition officers will do everything they can to make sure the contractors understand what's coming about."

Contractors would be wise to study the BMMP project updates, so they understand the architectural concepts, Bjorklund said. Developing prototype capabilities that adhere to the architecture would also be beneficial, he said.

"If you're not preparing to respond to any solicitation that invokes these standards, you many not have the best concept on how to respond," Bjorklund said. "It could lead to a weak response."

The Pentagon's BMMP office sponsored an Industry Day in 2003 to educate government and industry partners on the program. More than 240 organizations attended, Pentagon officials said. Another Industry Day is not scheduled yet, and defense officials are not certain whether or not another one will be held. If another event is planned, the details will be posted on the BMMP Web site.

Besides the IT side of the Defense Department's transition, contractors also will have to examine the roles people play at the department.

As part of the effort to reduce redundancy, contractors and integrators will have to know how Defense Department workers get their jobs done and how that will change under BMMP.

Pentagon officials do not expect the change to be easy.

"With change, comes resistance. DOD is no different," Pentagon officials said in a statement. "Establishing a vision and a plan for business transformation and linking our objectives to warfighter needs will help break down cultural resistance."

The transition will be implemented across six business domains: accounting and finance, acquisition, human resources management, installations and environment, logistics, and strategic planning and budgeting, defense officials said.

While BMMP information is available on the 2.3 version, look for significant improvements when 2.4 is released in March, Marshall said.

"What you'll see in 2.4 is something that is complete and well integrated," Marshall said. "It will include not just the architecture but also the transition plan content. There are drafts that are a work in progress, but we're really revamping it now."

Staff Writer Doug Beizer can be reached at dbeizer@postnewsweektech.com.
The program: The Business Management Modernization Program is the Defense Department's initiative to modernize and integrate all of its business systems. The program aims to streamline all the Pentagon's poorly integrated, stovepiped business processes, practices and systems. Defense officials expect to save money and provide war fighters with critical information. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld identified BMMP as a "top 10" priority.

When do we see it: Launched in 2001, the final version of the new architecture and the transition plan are expected in March.

What contractors and systems integrators need to do: Experts agree the best way to prepare for BMMP is to study the details and updates at the Defense Department's Web site: www.dod.mil/comptroller/bmmp/pages/index.html.

Goals: A clean audit in 2007. Performing an overall audit under the existing business systems at the Defense Department is impossible because of the lack of integration and standards.

A related goal is total visibility and assessing the value of all the department's assets, another task impossible using current systems. Under this goal, the department will account for its operating materials and supplies; inventory; and property, plant, and equipment assets.

Another goal is to achieve total personnel visibility, including military service members, civilian employees, military retirees and other personnel, in a theater of operations including contractors and other federal employees.

The new architecture:The overall framework for the new architecture requires that it be:

  • Integrated and interoperable across joint and multinational organizational boundaries

  • Comparable across business operations, systems and technical architecture environments.

Upcoming events:

Feb. 25: A BMMP official is to present a briefing on Integrating Enterprise Architecture and Capital Planning at the Digital Government Institute, Cafritz Conference Center, George Washington University, Washington.

March 15-16: The Military Technologies Conference in Boston, BMMP will showcase its goals and objectives. More information at http://mtc05.events.pennnet.com/.

March 22-24: BMMP officials will attend the Navy League's Sea-Air-Space Conference 2005, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, Washington. More information at www.sasexpo.org/2005.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Washington Technology.

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