Army to cast more critical eye on enterprise networking programs

LAS VEGAS?An Army general today provided a rather candid critique on the service and its failure to achieve enterprisewide networks and services.

Maj. Gen. Dennis C. Moran, the director of architecture, operations, networks and space for the Army CIO office, warned an audience assembled at the Army Small Computer Program's annual IT conference that they might not like what he had to say, but that IT budgetary dollars in 2006 and the out years would be closely linked to how well a program's requirements are defined and whether the program is being built to service the whole enterprise.

"You're not going to get as much money as you did before. We're evil people at the Pentagon," Moran said to scattered laughter from the crowd. "Why? Because we have bills to pay in the department and the only way to [ensure programs get adequate funding] is to generate efficiencies and effectiveness."

Moran also sharply criticized Army leadership for its failure to provide direction to soldiers on how the Army will get to common voice, video and data networks and services.

"The number one thing we've got to do is change the mind-set. We need your help. We have already demonstrated that we're inept," Moran said during his keynote address, discussing Army users' reluctance to move to a consolidated enterprise and the lack of senior-level guidance in steering the service in that direction.

Moran was recently chosen as the new vice director for command, control, communications and computer systems for the Joint Staff and is expected to begin working in his new role within the next two weeks.

The Army is pushing for an enterprise approach to buying hardware and software and procuring services, in part guided by numerous billion-dollar contract vehicles. Still, the service needs to give up the legacy apps and networks to benefit the larger organization, Moran said, adding that once the Army resolves itself to an enterprise approach, there will be increases in effectiveness.

Moran said the Army must begin its push to enterprise services through grassroots efforts, driven by the directors of information management, program executive officers and major command officials.

One of those commands, Fort Hood, Texas, could be a leader in the Army if soldiers would force themselves to see the larger picture, Moran said. "Fort Hood has the wherewithal to be the shining star of the enterprise," he said.

Standing in the way, however, is strong resistance to change. At Fort Hood there are 96 domains on the NIPRnet alone, Moran said, adding to the base's significant security problems with protecting critical combat information. But when senior Army leaders began pushing the base to focus on enterprisewide solutions, they ran up against resistance.

"I can't tell you the resistance we faced at Fort Hood to make it an enterprise," Moran said. "It demonstrates what we have to prepare ourselves for. We'll try to put the policies in place and the contract vehicles, but I need you to start thinking big enterprise."

Dawn S. Onley is a staff writer for Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

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