November 19, 2004
DoD Management Overhaul?
Articles about the Department of Defense reforming itself are always heartening.
Inside The Pentagon
November 18, 2004
Directive On Wolfowitz’s Desk Promises DOD Management Overhaul
An unsigned management initiative decision on Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz’s desk is expected to bring about sweeping changes in the way Pentagon components are managed and interact with each other, according to defense officials.
The document, known as MID 918, would restructure the Defense Department by dividing its activities into four mission areas: warfighting, business, enterprise information environment and the DOD portion of national intelligence. Each mission area will be governed by a lead organization that will be designated in the document, according to a July 22 Army memo reviewed by Inside the Pentagon.
Based on a draft of MID 918, the memo says the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would take the lead for warfighting; DOD’s chief information officer -- or assistant secretary of defense for network and information integration -- would govern the enterprise information environment mission area; and the under secretary of defense for intelligence would be named the intel area’s lead.
The business mission area, to be led by the Pentagon comptroller, consists of six domains: accounting and finance; acquisition; human resources management; logistics; strategic planning and budgeting; installations and environment. However, some of those are being merged, a Pentagon official said.
The new structure under MID 918, once approved, will impact the various Pentagon components “all the way from the top to the bottom,” Jack Zavin, chief of information interoperability in the NII office, told ITP Nov. 15.
Charters for entities given lead roles under MID 918 likely will be affected, he said. Debate among under secretaries regarding their areas of responsibility is part of the reason the document has not yet been signed and put into effect, he said.
Because MID 918 is “pre-decisional,” Pentagon officials are reluctant to discuss many of the document’s details. However, this week Zavin noted the MID will codify “a rule set” and establish areas of responsibility and working relationships between DOD components. This effort originated in an Office of Management and Budget request for better management by all federal departments, he said.
In 2002, OMB instructed all agencies to submit a five-year restructuring plan aimed at fulfilling President Bush’s “strategy for improving the management and performance of the federal government,” according to the President’s Management Agenda.
MID 918 “codifies how [DOD] is handling the OMB request,” Zavin said. “It’s talking about how the government, in this case the innards of the Department of Defense, are going to interact with each other.” Although the MID has not yet been signed, some defense entities -- including the Army and the under secretary of defense for intelligence -- already are assessing how their policies will be affected, according to documents reviewed by ITP.
“That’s why it becomes very sensitive,” Zavin added, explaining that each lead department is “setting up a mechanism for governing” its respective mission area.
Zavin said he could not say when Wolfowitz would sign the MID, or what changes might be made to the draft before it is approved. However, in a March 22 memo, the deputy defense secretary tasked NII with incorporating new information technology policies “into the DOD Directive System within 180 days.”
MID 918 “is an amplification” of the March 22 Wolfowitz memorandum, Zavin told ITP. The March memo, sent to top defense officials, outlined reforms in the way the Pentagon manages information technology programs (ITP, July 29, p1). Although the March memo specifically addressed information management systems, other lead agencies are expected to unveil policies that will govern their mission areas, a DOD source said.
Management of information technology is integral to all mission areas, Zavin noted. From warfighters in Afghanistan and Iraq to service officials at military installations, everyone throughout the defense community must be able “to discover the information they need to do their job,” he observed. That includes “being able to access it, and then manipulate it, to actually use it to effect mission outcome.”
That might seem simple, but DOD is a huge department, and “those information sources are all over the place,” Zavin said. As an example, he described how it often is easier for him to find a memo distributed by a defense official by searching a commercial Web site than it is to tap into the Pentagon’s information systems.
Such inefficiencies are being addressed by the development of DOD’s Global Information Grid. But for the GIG to be effective, policies and processes must be established for tagging the information uniformly and filing it in libraries for retrieval by the various groups authorized to access it, Zavin said.
“Improved and timely IT investment policies are a cornerstone to enable change throughout the department, assure that we have the right IT capabilities to perform our mission and conduct effective information operations, eliminate outdated ways of doing business and achieve our net-centricity goals,” Wolfowitz wrote in March.
The under secretary of defense for intelligence office is among those that “have refocused on net-centricity,” noted Kevin Meiners, the outfit’s director of intelligence strategies, assessment and technologies. He describes net-centricity as empowering “users with the ability to easily discover, access, integrate, correlate and fuse information and data that support their mission objectives.”
Terms such as net-centricity can be perceived as “fuzzy,” or having different meanings to different people, Zavin said. He explained within DOD information traditionally has been “pushed” in a format “that’s convenient to the pusher, as opposed considering the needs of the end user.”
A philosophical change that will be reflected in the future is “subsumed by this larger vision in the department of being user-centric,” he said. That means DOD entities will no longer find themselves receiving information they did not request, in formats they cannot use, coming at the wrong times.
“There’s been a technology ‘push’ in the department, as opposed to a user ‘pull,’” he said.
MID 918 would establish the enterprise information management mission area and a lead agency to govern such information technology issues.
-- Sharon Brooks Hodge
Posted by Chester at November 19, 2004 6:24 PM
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