Lawmakers seek management change at DOD

Senate, House, differ on Army Future Combat System funding

The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved a $648.8 billion Defense authorization bill for fiscal 2008. It calls for major management reforms at the Pentagon and sets the stage for a showdown with House lawmakers about funding for the Army's Future Combat Systems.

Senators on the committee want the deputy Defense secretary to wear two hats and also act as the department's chief management officer. A deputy would be in charge of overseeing high-risk management problems on a daily basis, according to a May 25 statement.

These high-risk issues include the modernization of business systems, financial management, the personnel security clearance program, supply-chain management and weapon systems buying ? all of which are heavily dependent on information technology.

The senators also want officials at DOD's Business Transformation Agency to carry out a coordinated program aimed at modernizing Defense agencies' financial management systems, according to the committee statement.

In addition, the senators are calling for an acquisition workforce development fund at DOD to help swell the ranks of acquisition professionals, because the Pentagon's spending for products and services has skyrocketed, the statement reads.

The committee bill also would require more competition for Logistics Civil Augmentation Program contracts. Under the program, the military spends tens of billions of dollars on logistics support services from private companies for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Senate committee bill, approved late last week, would fully fund the Pentagon's $3.7 billion request for FCS, adding another $90 million for the program's armed robotic vehicles portion and $25 million for the development of an active protection system. House lawmakers, in their version of the authorization bill, cut $867.3 million from the Bush administration's request for FCS, which means both chambers will have to iron out their differences in a conference committee.

Another provision in the Senate bill would consolidate the Army's Joint Network Node and Warfighter Information Technology Network-Tactical programs into a single Army tactical network program, the committee statement reads.

The committee will officially file its report on the legislation early next month, said spokeswoman Tara Andringa. For the first time, it will personally identify senators requesting funding for projects outside the administration's Defense budget request, the statement notes.

Sebastian Sprenger writes for Federal Computer Week, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

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