New agency to centralize management of Defense business programs

The Defense Department has established a new business agency that will centrally manage some of the department's largest business programs.

The idea for the Defense Business Transformation Agency (BTA), officially established on Oct. 7, was approved by the Defense Business Systems Management Committee in late June. Eighteen of the DOD's business programs, systems and initiatives?including the Defense Travel System, the Standard Procurement System and the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System?will be transferred to the BTA by the end of November.

The BTA will eventually be headed by a service two-star general or an equivalent Senior Executive Service official, said Gordon England, acting deputy secretary of Defense, in a memorandum he sent to service secretaries. Until then, Paul A. Brinkley, deputy undersecretary of Defense for business transformation, and Thomas Modly, the deputy undersecretary of Defense for financial management, will jointly serve as director.

The BTA will be responsible for "business process re-engineering, core business mission activities and Investment Review Board matters as determined, and revised by the DBSMC," England said in the memo. "The BTA shall also ensure consistency and continuity across the core business missions of the department."

Dov Zakheim, former Defense comptroller, said the new agency will help the department transform its business processes. He added that the BTA goes beyond DOD's Business Management Modernization Program, which is responsible for integrating roughly 4,700 business systems across the department, in that it provides senior-level oversight on some of the department's largest business programs.

For months, legislators and the Government Accountability Office have pushed the concept of the Defense Department hiring a chief management officer who would be solely responsible for managing DOD's business systems.

"This is going to be the business agency of the department," said Zakheim, who is now a vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. of McLean, Va. "GAO has called for a COO or a CMO and I have, too, in the past."

Last month, the department's BMMP office unveiled Version 3.0 of its business enterprise architecture, in compliance with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2005. The BEA includes a transition plan for six Defense agencies: the departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force; the Defense Logistics Agency; Defense Finance and Accounting Service; and Transportation Command. It also outlines a new process for senior Defense officials to evaluate IT systems for compliance with the architecture and include a plan to centralize funding for DOD-level systems.

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

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