Aids Military Agencies
By Ed McKenna
The Department of Defense is tangling with a formidable paper tiger as it presses ahead with efforts to streamline operations and adopt the best business practices of the private sector.
Business operations are "literally awash in paper," and the paper glut "is not only driving the business culture, but is choking many essential systems," Pentagon officials say in a comprehensive report released last November.
Contracting documents, for example, are hogging 15 miles of file space at the Defense Finance Accounting Service facility in Columbus, Ohio, according to the Defense Reform Initiative report. That document, commissioned by the secretary of defense, outlined plans to reorganize and upgrade military operations and infrastructure.
Pledging to make the Defense Department contracting process paper free by 2000, Pentagon officials committed in the Defense Reform Initiative to redoubling efforts to use information technology to free the department from traditional paper-based systems. In fact, ad hoc initiatives to move from paper to electronic systems have been under way for quite some time at the Pentagon.
Imaging technology is playing a fundamental role in these and similar efforts throughout the federal government, propelling government spending in this area from $970 million in 1996 to a projected $2 billion by 2001, according to Input, a Vienna, Va.-based market research firm.
The Defense Department is using the technology for a range of applications, including telemedicine and strategic mapping.
Federal, state and local governments are expected to spend more than $1.1 billion on document imaging systems in 2002, twice this year's expenditures, according to International Data Corp., Framingham, Mass. That total includes hardware, services, maintenance and some of the software, but not document management and work-flow software critical to running imaging systems.
This growth is providing opportunities for large government contractors and a growing roster of smaller imaging system specialists. The National Institutes of Health's ImageWorld program, a key source of government business for imaging vendors, now lists 20 prime contractors and more than 200 vendors.
The most conspicuous savings in the shift from paper to electronic-based systems come from lower paper, printing and storage costs.
It is cheaper to buy 50 gigabytes of memory than store paper in cabinets, says Chris Bruno, chief of the information and systems technology group for the Defense Logistics Support Command Information Systems (DLSC-IS), Philadelphia.
With documents available at the same time to many users on the network or via the Web, there is also a rise in productivity, Bruno and others say.
DLSC is now using a contract management system supplied by Universal Systems Inc., Chantilly, Va., which "kind of takes us through the whole loop paper free," says Bruno. The DLSC procures, manages and distributes 4.1 million items for military customers and other federal agencies, as well as allied forces throughout the world.
The DLSC contract management system allows contractors to view and respond to government solicitations on the Internet, Bruno says. The system also manages other documents useful to companies in making bids, as well as the contracts themselves. The contractors are then paid by the Defense Finance Accounting Service, which now can get authorization for payment using digital signatures.
The command is now looking beyond the contracting system to digitizing all of its forms, says Bruno. This fact should cheer USI and other imaging system vendors because of the business opportunities it presents.
In the past four years, USI has garnered more than $10 million from implementing its Documetrix work-flow system within the Defense Logistics Agency, including the DLSC contract management system, says Jim Carroll, vice president at USI. The company, which expects revenues to hit $100 million this year, earns about 25 percent of its revenues from the Defense Department.
Providing work-flow solutions and systems integration, USI has forged strong ties with records management specialist Provenance Systems Inc. and PC DOCS Inc., Burlington, Mass., which offers enterprise document management solutions. Combining tools from those companies with its Documetrix system, USI has created its new ePower system, which is being installed now at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland, says Carroll.
Carroll estimates the company has sold 20,000 units of its Documetrix work-flow product to the Defense Logistics Agency. That number could grow if the company lands a new work-flow contract being bid by the agency.
But the company is not alone. It is getting stiff competition from Oracle Corp., Redwood Shores, Calif.; Kodak subsidiary Eastman Software, Rochester, N.Y., and Keyfile Corp., Nashua, N.H, according to an industry source.
Keyfile, possibly the least known competitor, is a leading provider of work-flow solutions using Microsoft Exchange in government and business applications, with a track record in the Defense Logistics Agency and the military branches.
The Defense Logistics Services Center in Battle Creek, Mich., responsible for tracking 12 million supply items, is now using Keyfile document management and work-flow software to automate its supply request applications.
Keyfile also has installed its work-flow products at the Naval Sea Systems Command Seawolf Submarine Program Office in Arlington, Va., says Marva Bailer, Keyfile federal manager in McLean, Va. That office is using Keyfile software to help track program design changes and decisions through the pertinent Navy offices. RGS Associates Inc., Arlington, Va., provided assistance and systems integration on both programs.
Even with the cost and efficiency gains, barriers to the implementation of document management systems remain. For example, there is culture shock associated with moving to the digital environment, says Carroll.
"There is also a challenge to ensure you have sufficient infrastructure," Carroll says, noting that some Defense Department offices are still using equipment that cannot support the technology.
"Probably a bigger issue is the question of what to keep," he says. "If you have 20,000 files, it adds up to millions of sheets of paper - and digitizing them would cost millions of dollars, and that's a pretty hefty expenditure."
The Naval Sea Systems Command is grappling with that question as it prepares to implement a document management system for its headquarters in Arlington, Va.
"We have large back files, and I don't think we have the time or the money to do all the conversion using imaging, so we may have to just resort to vault storage," says Bill Pruitt, NAVSEA headquarters chief information officer. It is now performing triage on files as it looks toward the paper-free system and a move to the Washington Navy Yard in 2001.
After exploring document imaging solutions for several years, NAVSEA last year chose Lockheed Martin Federal Systems off the ImageWorld contract vehicle to perform an assessment. "We used them to do the analysis, and we've got a fine assessment of where we need to go, and right now we're trying to figure how to get there," says Pruitt.
While it has not yet identified a prime contractor or products, NAVSEA headquarters did issue system standards last September to govern imaging initiatives at the Program Executive Office level at the Crystal City headquarters.
Issuing standards was the right move, according to Laurance Den, vice president of information systems at Vredenburg, Reston, Va. Without funds for an enterprisewide system, "they said, 'Look, let's follow these standards and then we'll figure out the interconnectivity," rather than mandating using certain systems, he says.
Vredenburg has installed and is maintaining document imaging repositories for several NAVSEA groups, including the Program Executive Office for undersea warfare, Den says. All the systems use client/server technology and Lanham, Md.-based Highland Technologies Inc.'s HighView software to perform the digital conversion. The effort is part of a larger, five-year support contract worth about $5 million to Vredenburg.
The success of NAVSEA in assigning standards for its headquarters is not reflected in the bigger picture. "They're having a hard time coming up with a joint standard for the military branches," says Larry Turner, general manager of Bell & Howell's Defense Department Systems unit in Skokie, Ill.
Centralized standards are necessary for the services to achieve the goals of having joint supply systems and shared logistics, he adds.
Bell & Howell has implemented its PC-based document imaging system, Image Search for Windows, at about 100 Air Force bases. Because the Bell & Howell product can work with legacy systems, it allows the bases to continue using their systems while they transition to new ones, says Turner.
Bell & Howell, which set up its Defense Department Systems unit in 1996, is aggressively pursuing Defense Department business. And most of that business comes off the General Services Administration schedule, Turner says.
"We're a small business unit right now," Turner says, noting that the Defense Department unit expects $5.2 million in revenues this year, up from $3.7 million in its first year.
While most document management projects are aimed at bottom-line results, imaging systems are also playing a role in the services' search for the source of Gulf War Syndrome, an unexplained illness that has affected hundreds of Persian Gulf war veterans.
Begun in 1995, the Army Gulf War Declassification Project was designed and integrated by prime contractor CACI International Inc., Arlington, Va. and is now being headed up by VGS Inc., McLean, Va. This project calls for industry to capture operational memos issued during the 1991 war and search for health-related documents that might resolve questions surrounding the syndrome, says Greg Mallon, a principle with CACI, the systems integrator and consultant for the project.
In three years, project officials have scanned almost 2.4 million images, with the main scanning effort concluding around December 1997, says Lonnie Manning, project manager of the Gulf War Declassification Project at VGS. The system is being retooled to comply with Army requests for new document control fields and overhauling how the documents are stored in the document management system.
The CACI system also uses Eastman Software Imaging for Unix and Eastman Workflow for Unix as well as Vienna, Va.-based Excalibur Technologies' RetrievalWare. In the future, the project may be used to process more gulf war memos and possibly papers from Bosnia, says Manning.
In addition to document management, military officials plan to use imaging technology to provide telemedicine services to soldiers at distant outposts and even the battlefield.
Two contractor teams, lead by IBM Corp. of Armonk, N.Y., and Ridgefield, N.J.-based Agfa, were selected late last year to compete for work under the Digital Imaging Network Picture Archiving and Communications System. The system, which will be implemented over the next few years, will allow medical experts at U.S. facilities to examine digital X-ray images from troops in clinics overseas.
Total Document Imaging Market(In Millions)
Worldwide spending on all hardware, software, services and maintenance
|998 ||1999 ||2000 ||2001 ||2002 |
|$3,325 ||$4,015 ||$4,830 ||$5,790 ||$6,935 |
|Total Market by Category, 1998 |
|Hardware ||22% |
|Software ||29% |
|Services ||43% |
|Maintenance ||6% |
Total Government Market(In Millions)
|1998 ||1999 ||2000 ||2001 ||2002 |
|535.3 ||646.4 ||777.6 ||932.2 ||1,116.6 |